Bibi McGill’s Never-Ending Pursuit of Mastery
Introducing our series on Mastery
There are lots of people who could be described as a polymath, but few have charted such a fascinating course through so many disciplines as Bibi McGill. Lead guitarist and creative director for Beyonce’s band? Check. Yoga teacher? Check. Acclaimed DJ? Check. Wellness educator? Check. Health food entrepreneur? Check.
So when we were brainstorming about this series on mastery, it’s no wonder that Bibi’s name was the first on our list. She kindly spared us a few minutes to share insights on her creative process, leading a balanced life and continually seeking new challenges.
What do you never leave home without?
When I go on the road, the first things I pack are my doTERRA essential oils. I’ll usually take their Elevation and Balance blends and I brush my teeth with their OnGuard toothpaste. For snacks I typically bring seaweed and pumpkin seeds. HANAH ONE gives me clean sustained energy when I’m traveling and helps me focus. Initially I was afraid of flying. In 2001 I started traveling eight months of the year so I needed a way to deal with it. I found that the use of controlled breathing slowed my mental chit-chat immensely - a simple deep nasal inhale and an even slower exhale.
How do you create an environment that fosters creativity?
As I’ve gotten older and gotten busier, I’ve had to get better at juggling more responsibilities. This has encouraged me to establish and reinforce boundaries. I deliberately create space in my life and a place of peace in which I can focus intently. When I’m in this mode, I make sure that I’m not going to be disturbed and clear my calendar so I don’t need to worry about having to be somewhere or do something. Once I’m in this contemplative or meditative state, I’ll just pick up my guitar or a sketchbook and let the ideas flow. Sometimes thoughts come to me when I’m nearly asleep so I jot down a note or, if it’s a melody, sing it into my phone so it doesn’t escape.
How has your creative process changed over time?
I’ve become better at trusting my instincts and learned to build on what’s in my heart. I ask myself, “What do you value?” and the answer informs what I want to create next. It’s not enough to just come up with ideas—you need to combine emotion, intention and action. You must also separate the things that are beneficial and those that drain you. I deliberately keep my work space clear of anything that will subtract from what I’m working on. It’s also crucial to avoid talking yourself out of new ideas or opportunities. I stop myself from thinking, “You’re not experienced enough to do this,” or “That person isn’t going to want to work with you.” Part of this journey is just becoming more self-aware and confident. Trust that you have the skills to make it happen, value yourself and this will manifest into good things.
What inspires you the most?
Being out in nature. I feel compelled to get up in the mountains, go for a hike in a mossy rainforest or visit hot springs. It doesn’t always have to be strenuous. Sometimes I’ll hang out by a river and just be. Getting fully immersed in nature allows me to cleanse and reset myself. If I pay attention, I get in tune with the elements—water, wind and the fire of the sun. The planet is a living being and every part of it has its own unique energy. It’s restorative to appreciate the beauty of a tree that has been there for hundreds of years. We can be disturbed by the vibrations of electronics and so have residual energy we need to expel. Being outside allows me to do that and it provides me with a sense of profound gratitude.
How do you define living a full life?
Exploring this wide-open playground of a world with passion and integrity. I want to always retain a child-like wonder as I pursue my dreams and remain receptive to new ideas. Your life has to be purposeful as well. As a teacher I get to grow and evolve in front of other people and I hope that inspires and encourages them to do what they love. If you enjoy something enough and are willing to commit to it, you’ll be able to support yourself. It might not be the most financially rewarding path, but it will make you rich in many other ways.
What does mastery mean to you?
I know that in this lifetime I’m never going to fully master anything. So it becomes a daily process of practice, repetition, improving and polishing. I also make sure I’m using all my gifts regularly. They don’t turn into knowledge and wisdom if you’re not applying them. I’m always eager to learn new things. To me, true mastery is being open to continuously grow and discover, and to then find new and creative ways to share it. Recognizing that you don’t really know that much is a good starting place.
Enjoy this interview? Then check back regularly for the latest installments in our Mastery series, featuring the likes of Jimmy Chin, Travis Rice and Ian Walsh.
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