Janelle Monae: ‘sometimes you have to say no… you’ll miss out on opportunities’

Janelle Monae just released their latest album, “The Age of Pleasure,” on Friday. In promotion of it, they did an interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe and talked about their inspirations and thought process. I sometimes find Zane Lowe’s interviews a little annoying — he knows his stuff, but can talk over the guests too much — but this one was a good one. In particular, Janelle talked about some advice Prince shared that she still takes to heart.

It’s been several years since Janelle Monáe worked with Prince on 2013’s The Electric Lady and beyond, but the musician still holds his advice close.

In a new interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, the multi-hyphenate star revealed what the late superstar taught them about overcoming nerves — in both music and life.

“Cut it down in half. That’s what Prince would say to his band,” Monáe, 37, shared. “He would be like, sometimes when people have jitters or nervous or whatever, they play too fast or they’re talking fast. He’s like, ‘Cut everything down in half.’ ”

“And I take that approach in life, cut it down in half,” Monáe added.

As the musician explained, “Sometimes you have to say no,” and “Sometimes you’ll miss out on opportunities that you think could have taken you to the next level.”

“Because it’s always like, well, what if they don’t call me anymore? That fear, you got to deal with that. I had to deal with it,” they then said. “I was like, you know what? I have to realize being present for me is my north star.”

“If I’m split between all these different worlds, and I’m always thinking about what’s next? What’s next? What’s next? Was I here? Did I live? Did I really live, or was I sort of spending so much time planning and worrying and worrying and rehearsing what could happen and what I need to do next,” they added.

“My fear was always messing up publicly or doing something that feeds into that perfectionism, that feeds into, I had to deal with rejection, abandonment issues, all of that. I literally had to go back to the root of where is this stemming from? But I didn’t even know I was dealing with it because I was so in it.”

[From People]

Apparently Janelle and Prince were quite close after working together in 2013 and his death affected her so that she took a break from music when she no longer had him as a sounding board. I do think Prince’s advice to Janelle is applicable to everyone, not just in music, but in life. I’m a big proponent of the “cut everything down in half” approach. Maybe it’s because I’ve observed it a lot, in others and myself, but when you do things too fast, without thinking it through or taking the time to do it properly, you definitely don’t get the best results. And certainly the advice about sometimes saying no goes with that as well. You may miss out on some opportunities by saying no, but it does also open you up to other opportunities that may not have been available had you said yes to the first thing. Maybe they’re not the exact same or same type of opportunities, but they’re opportunities all the same. I like how Janelle frames it here, by talking about being present in one world instead of split between a million different things.

Photos credit: Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency/Avalon, Shotgetter/Backgrid and via Instagram

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7 Responses to “Janelle Monae: ‘sometimes you have to say no… you’ll miss out on opportunities’”

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  1. ML says:

    Prince’s advice of cutting it down in half also holds true for public speaking and presentations. (It’s better to be a bit too slow than to rush.)
    And so is Janelle’s take on applying it to work! I went through a burn out and I could have used these words. Great advice!

    • CROWHOOD says:

      Exactly this on burnout. I’m currently navigating FMLA because I needed a break and didn’t give myself one in time. Hoping you’re coming out the other side of yours 💜

      • ML says:

        Thanks, Crowhood! I’m better than I was, though not as good as I used to be. I need to pay attention to my boundaries. I wish you the best of luck navigating your way to getting better. Hugs!💜

  2. KansasGal says:

    Perfect advice. I suffer from anxiety. At times in my life it has been debilitating. I was lucky to have two aunties who recognized it early and addressed it directly and got me involved in yoga. For years, I used breathing and other exercises to get through difficult situations, it was a very conscious effort, but it gradually became automatic. Now, most of the time, when something anxiety producing comes up, I go into this slow-moving, deep calm zen state without even trying. I still have anxiety, but anxiety doesn’t have me anymore. The best gift is that, when you can be in the moment and keep that clarity, you see that others around you are suffering too. So, when someone at work is being a jerk, and the situation is getting fraught, when I slow down I can see, oh, you’re dealing with this chaos and fear in your mind, this isn’t about me. And I can offer some grace to the situation. Obviously not everytime, I’m not a saint! But it is a beautiful thing to be in the moment, see someone else’s suffering, and be able to offer a balm for it.

    • Southern Fried says:

      What a wonderful share, so happy for you! I’m passing your experience on to a couple of people in my circle. Thank you❣️

  3. tealily says:

    “I have to realize being present for me is my north star.” I love that. I’m currently fighting through a debilitating work load at my job while attempting to pull myself out of a period of burnout. My attitude recently has been “F- it. I can only do what I can do, and if it doesn’t get done it doesn’t get done.” Going to focus on being present for myself.

  4. Aurora says:

    I’m currently on my own ‘cut down in half’ journey. I was burnout after (succesfully) exiting a job where I was dealing with a very corrupt, abusive management. But I launched myself into a demanding personal project that I set myself to complete chop, chop in order to be available for the next ‘big oportunity’ already knocking on my door. After a while I realized no I can’t always live in grasp, putting myself as windshield for whatever challenge life or others throw my way. If I live thinking solely of avoiding tomorrow’s regret, I’ll never have a present. So, I’m re-learning about limits, pace and the privilege that is every day.