Lessons from Kinky Boots, the Broadway Musical

Nancy KalinaIn September, I traveled to New York City to see Kinky Boots, the Broadway musical based on the 2005 movie of the same name and inspired by a true story. It did not disappoint. As a matter of fact, it was all that I could have ever hoped for and more.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the storyline of Kinky Boots, let me shed some light on this. Charles Price is the son of the man who owns a shoe factory in Northampton, England. This is not only a factory, but also a community of people who have been working for Price and Son for a long time. Charles, who dreams of living the city life in London, suddenly finds himself thrust into a position of responsibility as owner of Price and Sons Shoes after his father’s untimely death. Soon after inheriting the business, he discovers that it has been failing for quite some time.

Charles has a chance meeting with a flamboyant drag queen named Lola. Through this encounter he discovers that drag queens struggle finding boots that can bear the weight of a man. From here the story takes off as these two men try to work together to create “kinky boots” for the niche market of drag queens. The play is about each of these individuals’ struggle to become more than each previously thought was possible.

I love Kinky Boots because it is a story of heroes, one that tells the tale of many people on their own hero’s journey — and the collective journey they share. While the two leads are the obvious heroes, so are some of the other characters, like Don and Lauren. This hero’s saga that Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein have created for the audience follows Martha Beck’s “Cycle of Change” to a T. There are ups and there are downs. There is a time for grieving. There are unexpected surprises that propel a character into the dreaming and scheming phase. As a result of dreaming and scheming, implementation naturally occurs. And then there is the time when things fail. Yes. I said fail. There is no good hero’s saga without failure. The reason for this is because failure is real. The failure does not define the hero. However, the failure becomes a part of the journey. After failure, the hero must grieve a bit, dream and scheme a bit more and try again. You will see that this is exactly like trial and error with the exception that most of the time, trial and error does not recognize the grieving process that occurs when the initial or latest plan did not work out as one had hoped.

The musical closes with two uplifting and inspiring songs that personally made me want to jump on stage and sing with the entire cast. The songs left me with the belief that anything is possible. To pay homage to Kinky Boots, I would like to share its six tenets for the secret for success.

Pursue the truth. Quite simply, I interpret this to mean that we should all pursue our own unique truths. Our truth is what is true for us. Just because the rest of the world has jumped on board the yoga train doesn’t mean this is your train. Learn about yourself and your true nature and find out what truly makes you happy and what makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning to greet the day! Pursue that truth and you are on the road to leading your one, unique, special life!

Learn something new. Try new things. New things can be scary for many of us. We get stuck in our routines. We fall into a slump. Try new things regularly to spice up your life and provide yourself with a life that is full and abundant. This can be anything from trying to say “no” instead of always saying “yes.” It can also look like taking an art class for the first time since you were a child or simply trying a new recipe that looks appealing. There are new things around every corner of every day. Get creative with how you perceive trying something new. Trying something new doesn’t need to be huge. You can do this in small steps. If you are a person who is always taking care of other people at work, home or in your personal life, carve out one hour of each day that is just for you to do whatever you want. Perhaps, taking care of yourself is the new thing that you try.

Accept yourself and you’ll accept others too. We tend to judge people, and I am just as guilty as other people when it comes to this. However, the interesting thing is that when we judge others, we judge them about something that we see or don’t clearly see which is within ourselves. In other words, when I judge, I am only seeing my own weakness within the other person. The other person is simply mirroring my own area of discomfort within myself.

Let love shine. Enough said.

Let pride be your guide. From my perspective, it’s always better to engage in the world in such a way that you are proud of yourself at the end of the day and feel good about your actions and inactions. In other words, if you ever get to a fork in the road and you don’t know which way to go or which action to take … ask yourself which action would make you proud about being you. Which action would cause you to not feel awesome about yourself? When you give yourself this litmus test, your choices in life become a lot more clear.

Change the world when you change your mind. There are many people who are trying to make the world a better place for all of us, and to them I am truly grateful for all of their efforts. However, truth be told, we can all make the world a better place, one person at a time, when each one of us changes our mind. I am reminded of this very concept daily in my own life as well as in my life-coaching practice. Personally, I have seen my life change when I have changed my opinion about blaming another when I have begun to see my contribution to the dysfunction of the relationship. I have seen a client who thought that her husband was boring and never wanted to do anything, only to discover that she was helping to create the distance between the two of them. Being able to change your mind about another person or a group of people is where we all can support the planet to be a better place for all.

In closing, it only feels right to recognize the final number of Kinky Boots, “Just Be Who You Wanna Be!” This has been my perspective for most of my life, despite times when I may have lost my way and tried to be someone else. This may have occurred just for a moment, but that’s how we deny ourselves and the world of our true selves — one moment at a time. So, be that person who embodies your true self. Be that person who acts from his/her heart. Be yourself in every action of every day. There could be nothing more radical for us as human beings to do, but to simply be ourselves and express that honestly and out loud each moment of each day!


Until next time,

Safe Space Life Coaching

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