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  • Darren Gold

Leverage Your Platform

Identifying what your platform is and intentionally using it in positive ways is a responsibility we each have. It is also a source of leverage in a world where it’s easy to feel powerless.

I’m writing this less than 24 hours after seeing Coldplay perform their last of six shows at Wembley Stadium in London, England. It’s hard to argue with the Guardian newspaper’s recent declaration: “Biggest band in the world for some years. End of conversation.” Most people who have seen the show have declared it the best live performance they’ve ever seen. I agree.

Language, as it always does, fails to accurately capture the fullness of any experience. So I won’t attempt here to describe what accounted for the magic of the show. Rather, I want to explore another dimension that has made this show extraordinary beyond the music and the performance itself. Lead singer Chris Martin and his bandmates have chosen to leverage their enormous platform for good. In 2019, Coldplay announced they were pausing touring until they could figure out how to develop carbon-neutral or “environmentally beneficial” concerts. With their current tour, they delivered on the promise. The concerts use entirely recycled fuels and recyclable materials, have stationary bikes and kinetic floors at the rear of the concert where volunteers can ride and dance to power elements of the show, and actively promote several environmental causes funded by proceeds from the show. The band’s commitment to making everyone feel included can be felt throughout the show, including sign language interpreters for the hard of hearing and sensory backpacks for the visually impaired. Even the tour’s planetary-inspired slogan – Everyone is an alien somewhere – sends an unmistakable message that everyone belongs. The songs themselves are anthems to love, kindness, and inclusivity. In People of the Pride, Martin drapes himself in a pride flag as he belts out the song’s final line: “We’ll all be free to fall in love with who we want. . . .” At one point in the concert, the 43,000 fans in the front half of the stadium are asked to turn around and sing and wave to the other half, who are asked, in turn, to do the same, resulting in an immediate recognition that everyone is connected. At another point, Martin implores the characteristically stiff British crowd, who were anything but at this show, to raise their hands in the air and send love towards those out there in the world who need it, counting down from five to one, at which point fireworks erupt and the crowd erupts in ecstasy. Finally, around thirty seconds into their mega-hit A Sky Full of Stars, Martin asks the band to stop playing while he goes to huddle with the rest of the group as the crowd stands in silence. He returns and asks the entire stadium, many of whom have their phones in the air, to embrace being present and “put your phones in your pockets and your hands in the air.” The entire stadium gladly complies, erupting in applause and relief, as if they are finally given permission to be in the moment fully. He manages to do this without ever once being preachy. There is an unmistakable congruence between his message and who he is. It is the power of complete authenticity on display before 86,000 people.

I came away from the show in awe of what the band is doing to leverage their enormous platform to spread positivity in a world that desperately needs it. While no one has an audience the size of Coldplay’s, everyone has a platform. You may lead a team, a business, or a community organization. You may write a blog. Even your everyday conversations count as a platform that can be leveraged for good. Identifying what your platform is and intentionally using it in positive ways is a responsibility we each have. It is also a source of leverage in a world where it’s easy to feel powerless. As I write these words, I’m realizing that it is the power of my modest platform that has fueled my writing for the past two and half years. Love, kindness, wisdom, courage, maturity, personal responsibility, and leadership. These are the virtues that this platform stands for. Thank you for continuing to read.

Tuesday Tips

  1. Arguably the GOAT of all GOATs, Serena Williams, announced her retirement. I found her essay in Vogue incredibly compelling.

  2. This recent essay in The Atlantic is a poetic tribute to the death of the stick shift. My favorite line: “The manual transmission’s impending disappearance feels foreboding not (just) because shifting a car is fun and sensual, but because the gearshift is – or was – a powerful cultural symbol of the human body working in unison with the engineered world.”

  3. This New York Times review (along with photographs and video footage) of the impending opening of Michael Heizer’s mile and a half by half mile astonishing megasculpture in the middle of the Nevada desert, “City,” after 50 years in the making is a must read (and view).

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