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  • Giles Sibbald

go with the flaw

how to live a life that is true and authentic to us

Lizzy Goodman’s account of a significant period in rock n roll music “Meet Me In the Bathroom. Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011” is an excellent and impressive vault of interviews with the influential players of that scene.

It prompted me to do some research into a few of the musicians whose anecdotes caught my eye.

For this blog, I’ve chosen Karen O, the frontwoman of the highly influential New York band Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

For me, she is probably one of the most experimental and transformative artists of the last 20 years with an inbuilt curiosity and aversion for playing by the rules.

A few things have struck me about Karen.

Creative process

Her own visceral, instinctive reactions – euphoria, tears, stomach butterflies - to what she creates tell her when she has hit gold.

The power of emotional intelligence.

Fear of failure

She has found her own way of dealing with fear of failure. Her desire to avoid stagnation is more powerful than fear of failure.

This is what she said in an interview with CR in September 2019:

“Death to me is doing the same thing over and over again, even if you know it’s going to work,” she says. “I know that people are going to like this, because I’ve done it before in the past. That feels like a death to me. The fear of failure is strong and I do fail!...The fear of failure is definitely more present than ever. But the way that I cope with that is realizing nothing is as strong as the fear of not evolving.”

Go with the flaw. Ride over the fear of what people might think.


The Karen O that lives away from the stage couldn’t be more different to the frenzied, super-charged woman that lives on it.

“People expect me to be what they see on stage. An extroverted, unabashed party-in-a-bag. What they get is a mild-mannered, reserved, socially awkward woman.”

You can sense her humility when she sings on the American director David Lynch’s Pinky’s Dream. It’s not shyness but is a hint at her offstage persona. Lynch is one of her idols and she was a bag of nerves.

My takeaway from my bit of research is that, as far as her creativity is concerned, Karen’s vision of success is to be continuously innovative and challenging herself to do different things and to do different things differently. And whatever natural timidity she may have is pretty much overruled.

She feels the self-doubt like you and me but her determination to play out her vision of success trumps this doubt.

Creating our own vision of success is how we begin to understand ourselves and move towards living a life that is true and authentic to us.

What's the buzz?

- Create your own vision of success

- Listen to your instinct, it can tell you lots of things

- Stand up for your vision of success when fear comes knocking

- Don’t give in to fear and move towards your authentic self


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