Let your voice lead to your genuine self.

As we look ahead to the New Year, I’d like to share with you a uniquely moving experience.

Bobby McFerrin, renowned artist, singer and composer, chats with Krista Tippett from American Public Media about what the human voice alone can convey.

Audio: Catching Song with Bobby McFerrin

Here are a few of his thoughts that greatly resonate with me. I hope you find it as inspiring and enlightening as I do. Listen and enjoy!

One reason I enjoy singing songs without words is because it allows the individual hearer to bring their own story to the sounds that I make.

The wisdom of improvisation — it’s simply motion. The courage to keep going without self-criticism. Just be. It is essential to finding your genuine self.

There’s a lot of music in scripture.

Why don’t we sing more often? For me, the highest point in my evening is hearing 3,000 voices singing with me, getting them to remember who they are and what they can do.

I’m no longer afraid of making mistakes. Wherever my voice goes, wherever it takes me, I just follow it. I just watch it. It leads me to wherever. I trust it.

So what if you have a wonderful instrument. What we want is the core — your essence.

We are embodied memories of our ancestors. Am I accessing a memory when I sing?

Music is a tool for inner attainment.

Skip the Apocalypse and Celebrate.

It’s the end of the world as we know it…” — R.E.M. 1987

And there have been other songs, movies, documentaries and books that tell stories about how the world will end. Have you ever pondered why our society seems to be fascinated (even obsessed) with the apocalypse? Maybe we subconsciously want an end to things — so we can start over with a clean slate.

What do you wish you could have done differently?

The last quarter of 2012 has been a game-changer. For everyone. The ground beneath us has shifted and continues to shift. Our world has been shaken to the core — economically, politically, environmentally, socially, emotionally. Where do you turn for something stable and familiar? And if you find it, is that just the calm before another storm?

The way I see it, we have two choices. Either we ride the wave, keep our fingers crossed and see where it takes us. Or we create a new game and sail it through the current. The message I got these past three months is that things will never be the same again.

The last chapter is coming to a close. Time to write a new story.

“It’s the end of the world as we know it. And I feel fine.”

It’s time for the empirical truth.

It’s been a recurring comment in recent conversations that a nonprofit is essentially a business and how it should be run as a business. I caution you to not get out of one box to simply move into another.

We need to shift our conversations away from merely labeling what we do and toward encouraging constant innovation — at all levels and across all functions — starting with the board. Regardless of titles, structures and systems, you have a better chance of getting on the right path if you ask the question: Does the culture of my organization support change where and when it needs to happen?

There certainly is a business aspect to managing a nonprofit, but why maintain a fragmented approach? It is not the entire picture. The empirical truth is that a nonprofit is a community where we constantly have to connect the dots for the people we serve, individuals who want us to succeed and those who can carry us forward. Some of them are one and the same.

It’s about relying on the relationships, the emotions and the stories to fuel what we hope will, one day, become a sustainable community.

Time to see things and act on them more holistically.