Are you searching for inspiration and the courage and passion to pursue what you want? Do you wish you felt free to say what you need to say in your relationships? If you felt free, I have no doubt that you would bring your dreams into the world.
Today’s guest is no stranger to pushing the boundaries of expression. As a national poetry slam champion, winning poet, and multi-platinum songwriter, he knows what it takes to push the boundaries of vulnerability using your voice.
Today, our guest is IN-Q, who has groundbreaking achievements, including being the first spoken word artist to perform for Cirque du Soleil and be featured on ESPN and HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. He inspires audiences worldwide through his live performances and storytelling workshops, which are incredible.
IN-Q has performed at almost every Summit of Greatness we’ve had with four standing ovations. He is a man on a mission with a new book called, Inquire Within, and I highly recommend getting yourself a copy.
We talk about the book in this episode as he shares the difference between codependent love and unconditional love and the poetry he writes. We also dive into his take on the major problems in the world today and how we can come together to solve them, the power of using your voice, and how you can inspire others to use theirs as well — because leaders create other leaders. He opens up about his relationship with his father and how his absence inspired his poetry today. I am so excited, so let’s jump straight in!
IN-Q is a National Poetry Slam champion, award-winning poet, and multi-platinum songwriter. His groundbreaking achievements include being named to Oprah’s SuperSoul 100 list of the world’s most influential thought leaders. His recent poetry videos have gone viral with over 70 million views combined.
As a songwriter, IN-Q’s hit single “Love You Like a Love Song” by Selena Gomez went multi-platinum, winning him a BMI award. He has written with renowned artists, including Miley Cyrus and Mike Posner. His songs have accumulated over one billion views on YouTube alone.
The book Inquire Within is a collection of all IN-Q’s poems, and he talks about issues of love, loss, forgiveness, transformation, and belief. As the pandemic affects everyone, I wonder which of those five universal issues have deepened in the last year for him and risen to the forefront the most?
“The overarching theme of everyone’s life is learning how to love through ups and downs and coming back to love. … We should be so lucky to have all of these major themes of life, and continue to deepen over time.” – IN-Q
IN-Q has written some powerful love poems and shares why ‘85’ and ‘When it’s right’ stand out for him.
“Both of those I’m really happy with, and I wrote them at different stages of my life. They were a manifestation at the time that I wrote them. They were almost like exploring what I would want, and now it’s really beautiful to be living some of the poems that I wrote.”
IN-Q wrote these poems as kind of his dream life, almost like a wishlist of what he wanted his future to be because he wasn’t in a good place.
“All of my poems are prayers. I’m talking to myself like they’re reminders of the life I want to live. When I get an opportunity to get up and share them with other people, I’m talking to myself first, and [then] people are observing me doing that and hopefully seeing their own humanity in that mirror.” – IN-Q
I love the fact that IN-Q is speaking and performing first for himself and secondly for the crowd he hopes they connect with as he vulnerably shares his greatest desires.
IN-Q’s dad was alive, but he was absent from his life. It wasn’t until IN-Q was 15 years old that he met him for the first time. With such a gaping hole most of his young life, I wonder how he transformed his feelings of love into his intimate relationships.
“Various degrees of success and failure? Probably more failure, but each time I learned more about what intimacy was to me and how I was showing up in ways that I wanted to improve, and how I wasn’t showing up. The first time I went out with my girlfriend, at the end of the night, we were sitting on a porch, and we were having tea. She asked me, ‘So how old are you?’ She’s 39, and I said, ‘I’m 39.’ She goes, ‘You’ve never been married.’ I said, ‘No.’ She said, ‘You don’t have any kids.’ I was, ‘No.’ She stopped for a second and goes, ‘Why?’ She was basically asking, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ And by the way, she should have been asking that question.” – IN-Q
IN-Q didn’t feel good about answering that, and it was uncomfortable and led to an awkward moment and the end of the date.
“Two years later, I know the answer to that, and it was because I was waiting to feel like it was right. Those poems were manifestations [of] what I wanted to create in my life. But at that time, the answer to that would’ve been scary because I wasn’t sure why I’d waited. I had been with amazing women, but I wasn’t able to say, ‘I wanted to take the long walk,’ and I didn’t quite feel like I had found home.” – IN-Q
It’s incredible to hear him speak about his realization on such a painful subject.
“When people get into relationships at the beginning, they tend to project onto each other, and I have done this [repeatedly] where you meet someone and they have a few points that I want. You see those points and then fill in the rest with your own illusion [or] projection. And they do the exact same thing. You’re not even really meeting each other. That doesn’t usually come up for a while because at the beginning [you’re] in this honeymoon.” – IN-Q
When our partner doesn’t live up to our made-up expectations, we resent them. A better idea is to swap expectations for appreciation — focus on what your partner does do and build better communication around what you need.
IN-Q has had a challenging road with love. His poems and artistic expression are compelling; he shares how he developed a better style on stage thanks to a deeper understanding of himself and of relationships with partners.
“In the same [way] that you want something from a relationship at the beginning and you start to project, ultimately it’s about wanting love and validation — somebody you think is attractive being attracted to you, having this [image] of this life partner and then saying, ‘I’m ready.’ When I get up in front of an audience, I still want to be liked. Of course, I still want them to love my work. I still want them to validate my ego. People talk about getting rid of your ego. You can’t get rid of your ego. Your ego is a part of your humanity, but learn how to not navigate from it or operate from that place.” – IN-Q
IN-Q speaks about tricks and techniques he developed to interact with the crowd and even make them lean back at certain times. That is, until he realized they were getting in the way of the ultimate communication.
“When I’m in front of an audience now, I acknowledge that I want them to be connected to what I’m saying, but I don’t try to control their experience. I’m much more energetically contained. Think about what a single person is like out in the world. [Often,] if you’re looking for a partner, your energy is all over the place. It’s like you see somebody you’re attracted to, and you give them your energy, and you don’t even know who the f*** they are.” – IN-Q
Instead of giving energy away, IN-Q learned to contain himself in his romantic life.
That translates into his performances now, too, as he changes what he used to do.
“If I used to see someone in the audience that I perceived was not into it, I would give them my energy. It was exhausting. Focusing on myself allows the audience to then lean in. Who am I to tell them how to think, or how to feel, or whether or not to like me? Then I’m not actually in the moment. I’m not actually there. In that way, I think it’s the difference between codependent love and unconditional love. What I’m trying to do with my audience right now is unconditionally love myself and unconditionally love them.” – IN-Q
The world trains us to look for the answers outside of ourselves, and nowadays, we have so much stimulus bombarding us that we can’t ever find a moment just to be. IN-Q has learned to tap into his own pool of resources.
“I wrote all of these poems from that [internal] place of truth. I don’t strategize my inspiration. I pay attention to what [inspires me], and then I follow that breadcrumb trail. Writing this book was an opportunity to see what I’ve been trying to say all of these years. Technology is this amazing thing [that] connected the entire world, and simultaneously people are feeling more isolated than ever. They’re on their little islands and do not feel like they’re a part of this larger community. If I don’t know something, what do I do? I go Google, or I seek out an expert, or I read a book, or I listen to a podcast, and all of these things are amazing tools, but there’s a difference between using tools and having those tools use you.” – IN-Q
What excellent advice! If left unchecked, the very tools we use can become a crutch of sorts if we don’t allow ourselves to listen to the voice and wisdom within. IN-Q shares powerful ways to tap into that voice inside.
“Inquire Within is an invitation for the person to inquire both within the pages and themselves because, if you have something going on in your life that you can’t figure out, yes, you can search outside of yourself for that. But you can also find moments of silence, be in nature and allow that authentic voice you have inside of you to come up to the surface.
“That is the voice of your passion, purpose, and enthusiasm. I hope that this book is a window into that for people.” – IN-Q
I love the differentiation between using tools or whether tools are using you. It’s easy to get sucked into technology all day and think we’re being productive. IN-Q makes a beautiful point here about the benefits of doing things that connect us within and the results they produce.
Guys, there was such great wisdom shared in this podcast, and I just couldn’t fit it all in here. I highly recommend you head over to Episode 934 to listen to it all and hear IN-Q deliver his poems with me. Hearing him share his poems made me emotional, and I have no doubt you will enjoy it too!
Visit his website if you enjoyed this episode and would like to learn more about IN-Q. Here you can find links to his podcast, buy his book Inquire Within, and find a workshop to join and learn to tell your own story through poetry and create a powerful vision. I highly recommend checking out his YouTube channel here too — that’s where he has live shows, poetry videos, and even a Ted Talk.
If you liked this episode, we would love it if you could tag IN-Q, @inqlife, and me, @lewishowes, on Instagram with what stood out most to you. Also, please consider giving us a 5-star rating on Apple Podcasts because they help spread these messages even further!
This episode is for you if you’re looking to start authentically expressing yourself! So join me for Episode 934 of The School of Greatness, and start your journey toward discovering what you’re capable of!