I was able to have a conversation with my 2 sons a few days ago that really made me happy. When I was on this last tour down in Mexico with the band Chicago I took advantage of some travel time to catch up on some reading, well, it was actually *listening*.
You see, I had bought a book from one of my favorite speaker/authors, John Maxwell, called “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect”. Truth be told, I bought this book, and video, right when it came out… I don’t know, 2 years ago? 3 maybe?
I remember starting to read the book and although it and he is great, I didn’t continue on with it, at that time… I must have gotten busy… or been in one of my delusional “multi-tasking”, phases.
At any rate, I put the videos on my ipad and started listening while down in Mexico…
As expected… fantastic. Ever since I picked up my first John Maxwell book on the subject of “Leadership” I was pretty mindblown at what I read. It was quite different than what I thought. I think with all the emphasis on the word/concept(s) of “Leadership” out there these days as the great Eckhart Tolle said, “Words are just pointers”. It’s so easy to distort a word over time especially when it’s been taken advantage of and in my humble opinion it has certainly has within the last couple of decades.
I remember one training I was listening to on leadership and it really struck a good chord with me. I believe it was Chris Widener I was listening to and my takeaway was that we are ALL leading… by what we are doing. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with declaring, “I’m a LEADER!” or “I’m LEADING!”… no, it’s the simple act of whatever my behavior is… will influence some.
Let’s think about that for a second… as friends, parents, siblings, co-workers… EVERYTHING we do is a message, to those paying attention. Wow… what a responsibility. But not to take it too heavy… just the knowledge that one can’t really say, “I’m not a leader… not leading”… of course we are. SOMEONE is paying attention…
And believe me, I’ve led VERY poorly and still do at times, BUT, that’s why we have great teachers, books and audio to educate and instruct.
So there I was… watching this great seminar John Maxwell is putting on and many of the things I originally heard out of him in the books I’ve read are reconfirmed.
One of the biggest John Maxwell points on Leadership? What is Leadership? Adding value… wow, another thing I had no idea what he was talking about.
In my limited quest for self enlightenment you have to remember, as a musician/artist coming up during the 70s and through the 80s and 90s our industry didn’t really foster an attitude of trying to make the world a better place, other than creating the art, which is a huge contribution… not taking anything away from that… but it only seems in the last couple decades that the idea of *connecting with the fan* as a means of keeping a career going was starting to be suggested by the gatekeepers.
The weird thing is if you’re the one in the spotlight it’s real easy for someone who doesn’t have to expose themselves tell you to do it. BUT, the great news for me, is it was always comfortable and natural for me.
I’ve written about it many times before so I won’t bore you by going over it again but starting in the 90s when AOL and Compuserve came out we were offered free accounts on Compuserve if we would just go online and connect with the fans. Chat rooms, etc. As you can imagine, and some of you were with me back then, I did it AND LOVED IT!
Never once thought of that being a business decision or something to monetize…
Looking back on it all now I see what John Maxwell talks about when he says to “Add Value” to people. To give something and have it enhance somebody’s life… that’s adding value. To not expect anything in return for it, that’s what all the thought leaders talk about when saying “You’ll have everything you want if you help enough people get what they want”.
This is all the magic that’s talked about in ancient texts… I was having a great conversation recently with someone on how it’s so hard to imagine being selfless… why would we want to think of others before ourselves? Doesn’t that sound like some kind of a sentence? Maybe that’s just a part of my selfish nature I’ve had to identify and try to control over my lifetime… (having children really helps with that).
But in my conversation the other day we got to the point where we were talking about how when we do good things, we feel good. There’s the payoff. So in the big picture, as the great Jim Rohn says, “It’s an ENLIGHTENED self interest”. When I learned that I couldn’t wait to share it with my kids and friends and/or anybody who might be struggling with these concepts.
The idea that “It’s OK TO BE SELFISH!” the *right* kind of selfish… but what a great thought… “Don’t worry… you can COMPLETELY be thinking of yourself… and no one else…” What would REALLY make me happy and feel good? Something that LASTS!
Oh… it’s being *selfless* and “Adding Value” to others… WHOA! So that’s the key… to unlock all the riches! The riches of happiness.
They taught us this in AA, or whatever 12 step program one might go through… “You gotta give it away to keep it!” I HATED hearing that at first! Couldn’t understand that AT ALL! But now I do… If I want to survive… (enlightened self interest), I must help others to get and stay sober.
And then once I had children and saw what they were learning from me… in my actions, my behaviors… I saw how the negativity filtered down to them, and then when I adjusted my attitude, they adjusted… wow… leadership.
So with that I’ll tell you about one of the most profound things John said in his seminar, and the funny thing was the video was 3 DVDs. At the end of the 2nd DVD he closed… he was done… but, what was that 3rd DVD?
I went to it and it was an add on… kind of like he had some more thoughts he wanted to get down and out… and boy, was I happy I stayed. (another lesson, as Rohn says… STAY for the duration… don’t miss anything)
John starts talking about a mentor he had… a guy he said had just passed away in the last couple years… who was in his 90s… but when John was just starting out in his 20s he had this mentor that one day said to him…
“John, you’re gifted” (first GREAT piece of leadership… show belief in people and let them know… encourage)… “You’re gifted… now look me straight in the eye… DON’T… TAKE… SHORTCUTS. Don’t take shortcuts because everybody does.”
He goes on to teach the young John, “You know the kids in school that were gifted and hardly had to put any effort into it and they’d get straight A’s? That’s what I’m talking about… if you are gifted and you don’t apply yourself you’ll be in the top 50% of the population. If you’re gifted and you apply yourself you’ll be in the top 10% of the population. If you’re gifted and you apply yourself and DON’T TAKE SHORTCUTS… you’ll be in the top 1% of the population.
Find your giftedness, apply yourself and DON’T TAKE SHORTCUTS there. Take shortcuts where you’re NOT gifted. Delegate things”
John goes on to say, “This whole idea of working on your weaknesses… no, take shortcuts with those, work on your strengths and giftedness with all the focus and might you can muster”. (I’m paraphrasing all that… those aren’t exactly his words… it’s what I got out of what he was saying…)
But what perfect timing to hear this! As I’ve been talking about over the last month or so, I just finished a great book that really prepared me for 2015 called “Essentialism” and that book basically busted me bigtime for being all over the place.
Broadstroke of that book is to eliminate all the non-essentials and go BIG on the one, or 2 maximum, essentials I need to focus on.
It made me really dig deep to ask who I am and what I want… (funny how it didn’t take long nor was it too far from me…), I’m a music maker… a bass player, singer, songwriter, producer and artist. Everything else is a non-essential… meaning that if I’m spending time on things I’m not only not good or gifted at, it’s watering down anything else I’m doing.
So all of this stuff between the book “Essentialism” and John Maxwell’s seminar on “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect”, the stars have aligned…
Oh, and the CRAZY thing is I’m going to the Infusionsoft ICON2015 convention and guess who’s one of the speakers? Greg McKeown, the author of “Essentialism”! Crazy? No, it’s paying attention to what’s out there.
Alright, I’ve ranted long enough… but I just had to share with you that most profound lesson John Maxwell gave to me…
“You’re gifted… DON’T TAKE SHORTCUTS”. Find your giftedness… maybe it’s music, maybe not but whatever it is, find your giftedness and go BIG on it…
With all the great people I’ve come into contact with over the last 8 years, teaching personal development it’s amazing how it keeps funneling into an elegant, simple existence…
When challenged by the teachings of my mentors over the last couple years specifically… when I asked myself, “Have you ever REALLY gone for a 90 Day BLAST… or RUN with your music? Well, the answer was no… and it’s because it didn’t feel like I had to. What I was doing was working throughout my career and lifetime… but when presented the formula for being in the top 1% of the population? You see that’s where it lit me up… thinking, “Stop trying to do all these different things… FOCUS on what your sweetspot is, give it a BLAST for 90 Days and see what happens!
Well, I did that last year in 2014 and I don’t think it’s an accident that one of my songs I submitted for Chicago 36 became the title track of the album. Title track of Chicago 36 produced and co-written by me? A random act or possibly the commitment to see what happens if I REALLY get focused on this music thing.
I have to tell you… in this business I’ve seen a LOT of people resting on their laurels… it’s just something weird that happens once people “Make it”. There are a few that get it but many are content to be in that 50% or 10% club. Nothing wrong with that… but the notion of “What if?” “What is my TRUE potential?”… those are questions that now into my 50s are coming to me more and more… and thanks to the teachers who ask these questions…
Imagine if more and more of us start asking those questions… in closing, again, as my favorite speaker Jim Rohn asked, “If we could do more, shouldn’t we?” And as indirectly as Tony Bennett gave me a little mini lesson one day, as he said, “It doesn’t take much… 15 minutes a day”. There’s the real beauty and payoff for me… to make a change, it doesn’t take much… and guess what, I get ALL the benefits… ENLIGHTENED self interest.
Have a great day out there!
ps… I just dropped my 13 year old off at school and was reflecting on what I’d just written and wanted to add this real quick…
I came home from my Mexico tour and sat my boys down and told them the “You’re gifted” lesson… and they took it all in. It’s all too easy to just tell kids they’re gifted, special, etc. and leave it there. I love that Maxwell’s mentor gave him the challenge. “You’re gifted… now, don’t squander it…” not that everybody needs to be going all out but just know that we don’t want to get to the end of our lives wondering what just that little bit of effort and avoiding shortcuts would have yielded.