There was a TV show on about 20 years ago called The Weakest Link. It was a winner-take-all game show that was a cross between Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Survivor. The host back then was a British woman, Anne Robinson, who insulted the contestants by sneering at their wrong answers and questioning their intelligence. She was known as “The Queen of Mean, ” especially for her dismissive catchphrase, “You are the weakest link! Goodbye!”
Since I don’t have broadcast TV, I just found out yesterday that this terrible, humiliating, and ugly show has been rebooted, with Jane Lynch as the host. And she is using the same catchphrase.
The reason I am writing about this is that I caught myself using this term the other day in talking about how working with people who are more advanced than you, and how it can bring out the best in you. I said to this young girl, “because no one wants to be the weakest link.” And then I realized what a crappy thing that was to say to her, to myself, to anyone.
The definition of “weakest link,” according to the Collins English Dictionary, is:
the person who is making the least contribution to the collective achievement of a group
As I said in the blogpost I linked above, that term might have come out my mother’s own mouth when I was growing up. It was implied by actual quotes like these:
- She sings higher than you so she must be better
- Everyone was better than you
- The camera did close-ups of everyone but you because your hair sat on top of your head like a hat (admittedly, that was a bad perm)
Consequently, I have worried my whole life of not being good enough. Of sticking out for the wrong reasons. You might call it imposter syndrome, feeling like a fraud, being afraid of being found out, of people seeing my acting or singing as the equivalent of a bad perm – just sitting there, calling attention to itself by its own inadequacy.
Yeah, that’s garbage. And it has held me back in the past, and I’m not about to let it hold anyone back anymore.
Our studio showcase is coming up on June 5 – I’m calling it “If we only have love” – and, as I did in Milwaukee, I’m putting together people who I think will work together well, will sound good together, and will learn from each other. Some people will be at a relatively advanced stage of their vocal development, and some will be in the beginning of their vocal journey. The point of combining people is to introduce the newer ones to performing with the help of more seasoned performers. It’s to build community, which is paramount to me.
No matter what your stage of development is, you have something to offer a group and something to learn from it.
Yes, work with good people so you can strive to achieve a higher level of performance. But don’t ever think of yourself as being the “weakest link” in the ensemble, and don’t let anyone else even hint that you could be. Not me, not a colleague, and definitely not Jane Lynch.