4 Lessons In Excellence From Beychella
There is black excellence, and then there is Bey excellence. Different tiers.
April 16, 2018 at 3:10 am
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter is the greatest entertainer alive — perhaps the greatest entertainer of our time.
Don’t @ me. Or, maybe do @ me – the hive has my back.
One thing is clear after her #BeyChella performance: the only person that can even come close to competing against Beyoncé is Beyoncé. And, now that we’ve all had a moment to collectively marvel over the Bey excellence that was on display April 14, 2018, in the blackest year ever, I’d like to dissect the lessons in excellence that can be gained through Beyoncé and team’s display of artistry.
1. It takes a team to build the dream.
The stage show that we witnessed was the result of months of meticulous planning from a crew of nearly 250 people onstage and behind-the-scenes, which culminated in the mastery displayed on that stage. It reminds me of a quote I love from Roy Bennett, “great leaders have vision, share vision and inspire others to create their own.” Beyoncé shared her vision with her team, then inspired them to bring their very best each day. One doesn’t give a performance of that magnitude without demanding the very best of themselves and the ones around them. To be a great leader, one must inspire magnificent works from those who’ve chosen them to lead, then help them in executing their vision.
2. Sometimes a redirect is exactly what you need.
Queen Bey was supposed to perform at Coachella in 2017, but opted out after becoming pregnant. The time off gave her time to dream and envision the show she wanted to do without restraints. Beyoncé’ literally had two years to plan this damn show, and it showed in every detail.
How many times have you wanted something so badly that you could taste it, only to have it torn away at the last minute whether by choice or by force? How many times have you had to back out of something after giving your word? It’s OK. Beyoncé’s performance drove home this lesson: Sometimes, the universe redirects us to set us up for feats even we didn’t know we were capable of. Let the redirect happen.
3. It’s okay to make space for others.
One of my favorite portions of the performance is when Bey was joined by Jay Z, Destiny’s Child and Solange. I nearly cried at the sight of Beyoncé pausing to share this moment with her family because it was both an acknowledgement of the time put in and an appreciation to the ones who put in the time. Let us now forget that Jay Z was the bigger star when he featured on her debut album; there would be no Beyonce without Destiny’s Child, and quite possibly, there would be no Lemonade without Solange and that elevator (while I am at it, thank you Solange for A Seat and the Table + 4:44, too).
Beyoncé’s willingness to share the stage with her tribe is a lesson we can all learn from, especially during this season of the glow up. It's OK to make space for others, even as we are pursuing our own greatness, because everyone striving to be their highest selves and do their greatest work ultimately brings the greatest reward.
And, finally …
4. Be you, unapologetically.
King Bey performed an HBCU-themed, politically charged, "black is beautiful and powerful" set, where the audience was predominantly colonizers and the founder is most definitely a Trump supporter. She did it while being unapologetically black. From the opening ceremony showing her as Nefertiti (the Egyptian Pharoah known as the most beautiful woman in the world, but almost always portrayed in mainstream media as a white woman), to the Malcolm X line “the most disrespected woman in America, is the black woman …” as she strutted down a line of black women of various body types, to the crest on her closing number displaying symbols that are commonly associated with black culture, Beyoncé showed up to one of the whitest places on earth and had a career defining performance not for the audience in front of her, but for the millions of fans she knew were watching: ones who, either by choice or other circumstance, could not afford to be there physically.
Beyonce was hella black, hella proud and hella excellent. Her refusal to downplay her heritage, history or culture is a lesson we all can take with us as we walk into halls that weren’t made for us, sit in boardrooms at tables not designed to accommodate us and reshape a history that was determined to break us. Be you, and do it without compromising the pieces that got you to where you are.
I’ve never been more proud to be black.
I’ve never been more proud to be a black creative.
I’ve never been more proud to be a black woman than when I was watching Beychella manifest before our eyes.
So, the biggest lesson I learned is that true greatness elevates all those who get to bear witness. I am inspired to continue doing the work I’ve set out to do because Beyoncé showed me that consistent acts over time can have BIG GAINS. Beyoncé, 22 years into an illustrious career, just hit a new height, setting the bar for herself, but also for what we, the audience, should expect from our performers. As a creator, her Coachella performance inspired me dig deep, step my game up, work harder and DO MORE with the platforms and opportunities I am given, because it isn’t about me – it is about all who will follow.
My only question left unanswered is, when can I commit to BCU and to whom do I pledge?