Snow-Blind to Our Own Talents

~by Shannon Modrell

Are you snow-blind to your own talents?

In the 80’s my husband Brent worked for a family who owned a popular restaurant chain in Houston TX.  J.R., the man who trained Brent for his managerial position, taught him to start each day by walking the perimeter of the restaurant to look for anything amiss that might need to be addressed: an overlooked soda can sitting on a ledge, a board coming loose, dead flowers in the landscaping, etc.

He stressed the importance of seeing with fresh eyes each day because of our human tendency to get snowblind to those things that are in the environment that we become accustomed to. Brent jokes that after a few weeks of training he used to rib J.R. because he often caught things that even J.R. had overlooked.

This is a great analogy for what we tend to do with our talents and creative gifts.

We are often completely snow-blind to the true magnitude of our special gifts because we are so close to them.  They are so much a part of us and feel so normal to us that they just flat seem insignificant!

All my life I thought everyone could sing acappella because it came very naturally to me.  I sang to myself constantly and automatically everywhere I went: the grocery store, work, home, the mall – everywhere.  It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that people started commenting on how amazed they were that I could do this, always declaring “That’s such a hard thing to do!”  I would think “What on earth are they talking about?  It’s the easiest thing in the world – everyone can do this!”  Finally, after hearing it from enough people I started realizing that, no, not everyone could easily sing acappella.

But as much of a revelation as this was, I still thought that surely all singers could sing acappella.  After all, I was a singer, so I thought that must be why it came so easily to me and not everyone else.  But in time I found out that no, not all singers – even great singers – can sing acappella.  I’d always taken it for granted because it’s so much a part of who I am.  It took an outside perspective for me to see it as anything but an every day run-of-the-mill activity.  (Though I do maintain that everyone can sing if properly taught (yes, even you!), not everyone has the same set of abilities when it comes to singing – but that’s another article!)

I know a young man from a very chaotic and dysfunctional family – we’ll call him Steve.  Steve has never done well in school, has ADHD and struggles with severe depression.  Besides being quite intelligent and creative he also has the ability to see – literally see – complicated math problems and their solutions in his mind’s eye as if they are written out on a screen.  It comes so easily to him he doesn’t understand how others don’t see math as he does.  Low self esteem plus the ease in which it comes to him keep him from seeing it for what it is: a very special ability that not everyone has.

Another thing about Steve; he gets so focused on traits and abilities in others that he does not have, (good grades, good social skills, organization), that he is snow-blind to his own gifts.

Most of us do this with our own talents. Has someone ever expressed how impressed they are at an ability they see in you or with something you did and your immediate thought was “What?  There’s nothing special about that!  All I did was….”  Has it maybe happened several times throughout your life in regards to the same ability or set of abilities?  Or do people ever say “You’d make a good_____!” or “You’d be great at_______!” and you immediately wonder how in the world their judgment could be so off-base?

Is it at all possible that they are actually on to something?  Something you cannot see?

We all have multiple talents and abilities.  And I know – I KNOW – that all of us have talents and abilities that still lie dormant.  And they are often connected to those things we do every day and take completely for granted.

 It doesn’t even have to be anything grand or flashy – I know people who’s very being makes others feel comfortable just as they are. Whenever they are around, others just feel a sense of emotional safety and feel like they are accepted for who and what they are and that they can just be themselves.   That is a gift!  And it just emanates from them naturally without their doing anything!
So what are some of the things that come easily to you, things that you often don’t give a second thought?  Maybe even things you’ve done since childhood.
The next time someone comments on an ability they see in you and your first thought is “Are you crazy?!?”, what if you stepped back from that thought and considered that they just might be seeing the seeds of greatness within you….
In love and support

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  Nationally known award winning vocalist, composer and speaker Shannon Modrell travels the US singing music to Encourage, Empower and Inspire. Her one-of-a-kind performances receive standing ovations on stages at international conferences and holistic events from coast to coast.

If you want to be Encouraged, Empowered and Inspired to live the creative fire within you, sign up for  a FRE*E subscription to her ezine Gifted U by emailing .  Visit Shannon’s website at:


When Being Positive Doesn’t Work

~by Shannon Modrell

Those of us in the various positive thinking movements spend a lot of time looking for a way to find the upbeat side of everything. Armed with our affirmations we strive to stay optimistic through good and challenging times because we know that our thoughts determine our experience of the world.

But 21 years of trial and error with this stuff has taught me that, like anything else, there is a time and place for this approach, and that trying to use positive thinking as a panacea cure-all gets us out of balance in a hurry.

Don’t get me wrong, learning to turn negative thoughts into positive ones IS a very effective tool. If our negative emotions are the result of habituated negative thinking, then yes, replacing the negative thought with something more positive is a powerful way to interrupt that pattern. I believe this so much that I have built a career around writing songs that help people do that very thing.

However there are also times when negative outlooks and unhappy moments spring up from something much deeper than just negative thoughts, and trying to use affirmations to fix it is like slapping a band-aid on a festering wound.

Sometimes when we are feeling stuck or blue, it’s because we have some need that isn’t being met or some unresolved pain to grieve.

If we don’t take the time to find out what need is within us, or allow the pain to have a voice, we will continue to be miserable, no matter how many affirmations we slather on it.

(Actually, the need to grieve unresolved pain is – well, a need – so we’re really back to the first idea: some need within us is asking to be met)

Sometimes we need to stop focusing momentarily – on the positive and spend a little time with our shadow and be willing to temporarily feel some pain. This is how we give it an opportunity to move out (emote, e-motion) and be healed, which eventually brings us back to homeostasis: balance, peace and harmony. (I write songs that facilitate that process, too.)

Once we know what the need is, we can begin to take steps to fill it, THEN we can begin using all of our other tools of affirmation, visualization, focusing on gratitude, etc. to improve our direction.

And it’s important to remember that this is a process. I sometimes have to remind myself of this, too. It’s natural to want to avoid pain, but if we can allow ourselves to get quiet and listen to the needs our spirit is whispering to us, pain resolves itself more quickly and we are better able to use all of those wonderful tools that make for a blissful outlook on life.

 Peace and Blessings,


  Want to use this article in your Ezine or Website?
Please do – just be sure to include the following blurb in it’s entirety:

Singer, Songwriter, Motivational Speaker Shannon Modrell changes lives and mindsets by performing transformational healing music at international conferences, holistic events, and at Unity and United Spiritual Centers all over the USA.
If you want to be inspired, encouraged and empowered to live the creative fire within you, you can sign up for a FREE
subscription to her Ezine Gifted U by emailing:
Visit Shannon’s Website at
Want to read more articles like this one?  Visit Shannon’s blog at:

Why It’s Never What You Expect ~by shannon modrell

~by Shannon Modrell

Wonderful creative soul, the truth is you won’t be able to give birth to your heart’s desire exactly the way you envision. Every creator holds a vision in his or her heart’s eye that is rarely exactly realized. It’s true, you may not have all the talent or smarts and energy you wish you had. You know what? It doesn’t matter. What does matter is you keep moving forward on what you most treasure. What is born and most importantly, the process of birthing your heart’s desire, contains all the meaning and joy and renewal you crave.”                  ~Jennifer Louden

 People who don’t think of themselves as creative (and there are LOTS of them) are always surprised when I tell them that most of the things I create – whether artwork, jewelry, songs, speeches, even these articles – never turn out like I originally picture them or hear them.  All they see is the finished product and they assume I have some grand ability that they do not possess. 

They don’t realize what a moment-by-moment process it is to produce something out of seemingly nothing and they automatically compare my finished outcome to the lack of a complete vision in their own head. 

 Or they may have a fantastic mental picture about something they want to create, but become frustrated when their results are less than they had envisioned on the first go-round.

But as most any author, artist, songwriter, speaker, builder or event coordinator will tell you – nothing ever goes exactly as planned – no matter how extensively you plan it before hand. 


Because once you step into the realm of “yes” by taking an action in the direction of your intention, who you are changes with each step.  Each moment of the journey is entirely new. 

 This is one of those odd phenomena that can only be understood through experience! 

 The richest and juiciest writings, songs, performances, speeches, classes, humanitarian undertakings, etc. come about when we ride the waves of inspiration that flow through us and we allow ourselves to be guided and directed into a larger vision than anything we ourselves never imagined. But this is usually only revealed to us one stepping-stone at a time, and only fully gains momentum when we say “yes” and then take action.

So I propose we all agree to let go of comparing our efforts to those of others AND to the expectation we may have in our own minds and try to simply enjoy the process – the step-by-step journey of creation – trusting that it will be revealed to us one piece at a time. We cannot fully know the outcome because with each new moment of the process what we see, how we see it, and what we are ready to experience is continually evolving.

 Peace and blessings,


Want to use this article in your Ezine or Website? 
Please do – just be sure to include the following blurb in it’s entirety:

Singer, Songwriter, Motivational Speaker Shannon Modrell changes lives and mindsets by performing transformational healing music at international conferences, holistic events, and at Unity and United Spiritual Centers all over the USA. 
If you want to be inspired, encouraged and empowered to live the creative fire within you, you can sign up for a FREE
subscription to her Ezine Gifted U by emailing:  
Visit Shannon’s Website at
Want to read more articles like this one?  Visit Shannon’s blog at:

The Secret to Having Unstoppable Impact ~by Shannon Modrell

You have something important to share with the world – A gift, a viewpoint, a piece of the puzzle of life that only you can share.  Or maybe it’s a song, a book, a speech, or knowledge of how to do something.  There is ALWAYS something…

But are you like most people? 

Too often, we assume there is nothing inside of us that anyone would gain value from.  This usually stems from a deeply buried (or sometimes not-so-deeply-buried) belief that “I am not enough, just as I am”.   We compare ourselves to some idealized standard that we don’t measure up to and think it is how we have to be if we are to make an impact in the world.   And too often our would-be contributions shrivel up inside of us, never seeing the light of day OR they become destructive little children until we listen to their cries for recognition!  (This is why I wrote the song I AM Enough)

I often recognize gifts and abilities in people that they themselves don’t see.  But when I point out the abilities I see in them, they frequently respond by insisting that I’m wrong and that they couldn’t possibly be as talented or special or important as I seem to believe they are.  Not only do they deny what I tell them I see in them, they get downright insistent that it’s not true!  It never ceases to amaze me how absolutely invested people can be in focusing on their own lack of ability.  I mean, people cling to the belief in their own smallness with bulldog tenacity!

Yet there are many famous speakers, writers, artists, teachers and musicians making an impact in the world who share that they experience the same self-doubt at least from time-to-time if not every day!  Despite the self-doubt they are still out there making a difference in the world, doing what is within them to do.

So I’m going to give you one of the secrets to ceasing playing small and stepping out in a bigger way in the world:  

Choose to give instead of seeking to be great

Maybe you aren’t trying to “be great”.  Maybe you habitually shrink back from your own abilities, too afraid to even be seen, let alone great.  Either way, I invite you to play with this concept.

Sometimes the blocks we experience come from having far too lofty expectations.  We set ourselves up by thinking our work, our art, or our ideas have to be SO GREAT that nothing we do could ever live up to the standard we’ve set – forgetting all the while that WE set the standard in the first place! 

My coach Sandra Zimmer taught me that sometimes the best thing we can do is forget the idea of having to be an expert and just allow ourselves to be “someone who knows some stuff and is willing to share it”.  It takes the pressure off of the outcome and puts the focus on simply giving to others what is within you to give.  It takes the focus away from “out there” (“what will others think of me?” “what will happen as a result of this?”) to being in the present moment (“what is in me that wants to be expressed right now?”)  This also applies to anything we want to create or express such as art, a play, music, etc.  

The irony is that once we let go of the expectation of how spectacular (read “perfect”, let’s face it!) our efforts must be, we are freed up to express the things that have soul – and that is what makes for true impact on the world!

Is there anything inside you that is asking to be seen or heard?   Try applying the “give it to the world” concept instead of worrying about whether or not it will be great and see where it takes you.  I’d love to hear about where this leads you, so please feel free to share!

Peace and Blessings,


  Want to use this article in your Ezine or Website?
Please do – just be sure to include the following blurb in it’s entirety:

Singer, Songwriter, Motivational Speaker Shannon Modrell changes lives and mindsets by performing transformational healing music at international conferences, holistic events, and at Unity and United Spiritual Centers all over the USA. 
If you want to be inspired, encouraged and empowered to live the creative fire within you, sign up for a FREE
subscription to her Ezine Gifted U  by emailing:
Want to read more articles like this one?  Visit Shannon’s blog at:

Permission To Do Things Badly ~by Shannon Modrell


“Did she just say what I think she said?!?”

We westerners are such a results oriented, perfectionistic culture in so many ways!  Too often we confuse striving for excellence with striving for perfection.  If the thought of allowing yourself to do things badly has you aghast with horror, then you have a perfectionist streak, my friend! 

Now granted, there are times when striving for perfection is preferable – Doctors performing surgery springs to mind as one example.   And you’d better believe that I want the auto mechanic who works on my brakes to be on the top of his game the day he’s under my car! But more often than not, perfectionism hampers good results. 

I know because I am a recovering perfectionist myself.

Allowing myself to do things badly has been the single most effective tool for getting me into action.  It was the policy I finally had to adopt in order to accomplish anything.  Everything I have ever created including my CD’s, articles, resumes, artwork, speeches, classes, workshops, my Ezine, my songwriting – everything – has only been created because I was willing to just start somewhere, anywhere, and step into action…and do it badly.  I always know that I can adjust and make corrections along the way, but giving myself permission to not be perfect is the only way I even get started.

And, of course, there are times when mistakes happen.  Despite my best efforts, sometimes I generate writing, performances, speeches, classes, and articles that contain errors.  Funny thing is people always seem to get something of value out of them anyway!  In fact, not only are the flaws in the things I do usually nowhere near as huge as my magical magnifying mind makes them out to be, but often I find that the “flaws” actually put people at ease.  It gives them permission to make mistakes too and not beat themselves up over it.  And then there are the times when what I judge as a flaw turns out to actually be an asset!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten tripped up on a lyric or made some other error while performing, and it actually made the audience and I more connected with one another.  It has a way of melting pretence and separation, giving everyone a sense of “we’re all in this together”.  It gives me and the audience something to laugh about together.

I know plenty of musicians who have had music in them for years, but they are waiting for the chance to make the perfect CD before they will even start.  I know many writers who would be wildly successful except that they can’t finish -or even start-  their book or articles because they can’t write up to their own lofty standards, or they sit around worrying about improper grammar.  I promise you I am intelligent enough to look past their bad grammar (should I even notice it) – I would much rather gain the benefit of their concepts and ideas.

It’s counter-intuitive to what our western culture reinforces, but it’s amazing how taking the pressure of expectation off of our results can actually improve our results!  Letting go of the voice of perfectionism helps you to see how imperfectly you can do things, and still do them effectively.  Perfectionism is healed by taking action imperfectly and surviving!

So if there is something inside of you that wants to be birthed, a project you’ve procrastinated starting, an idea to create something you just can’t seem to get going on, I invite you to ask yourself this one question:  “What small, imperfect action step can I take toward my desires today – even if I have to correct course along the way?”

Peace and Blessings,


Want to use this article in your website or blog?

Please do ! Just be sure to include this ENTIRE blurb with it:

 Nationally acclaimed Singer, Songwriter, Motivational Speaker Shannon Modrell changes lives and mindsets by performing transformational healing music at international conferences, holistic events, plus at Unity churches and United Centers for Spiritual Living . 

If you want to be inspired, encouraged and empowered  to live the creative fire within you, you can sign up for a FREE subscription to her Ezine Gifted U by 

Visit Shannon Modrell’s  Website at

Want to read more articles like this one? Visit Shannon Modrell’s blog at