Friends. That was “You’ve Got A Friend” by James Taylor.
I just got back from a trip with some of my friends from many years ago. They are guys that I went to high school with who I stayed in touch with for a number of years, and then lost touch and reconnected with them just recently. Now we get together each year and reminisce about our past, share our issues, care about each other. And I know any of us would come running to see each other again – winter, spring, summer or fall, because all we have to do is call, and we’ll be there.
Who are those friends from your past? Reconnect with them. Maybe you’re a young person and you haven’t lost touch with some of your young friends. If you haven’t, congratulations. Stay in touch with them. But if you’re older, think back to those people that made a difference in your life, in your teenage years, and in your 20s and 30s. Reach back out to them – calling them, writing them, knocking on their front door and going to see them. Tell them what they meant to you in your life, and how they developed you into the person that you are today, and how grateful you are. Listen to them and find out what’s going on in their life and how can you help them as a friend. Stay in touch. Get reconnected to those people in your past made you who you are today.
If you’ve got a favorite song, tell me about it in your comments or send me an email. I’d love to know what song resonates with you and how it makes you a better person.
Kenny Chesney has a song called Coach. It’s mainly about an athletic coach that he remembers and how meaningful he was in his life. The song has probably been sung at many funerals and retirement parties and tribute events.
Those kinds of coaches that we have as we are growing up do indeed make a difference in our life. They give us the foundation to be better human beings, to understand the value of teamwork, and to understand that when you fail you’ve got to get up and try again.
But I’m talking today about the coaches you need as an adult. Whether that’s a yoga coach, a life coach, a fitness coach, a therapist, a counselor, a priest, a pastor – someone that can give you the brutal advice and counsel you on what you need to be successful. You need someone that will push you to stay strong and fit, to get through that moment of depression and discouragement, or the next challenge that’s facing you.
Go out and find that coach. Have several.
My athletic trainer recently asked me what are the lessons that I teach when I’m out coaching chief executive officers. I tell them three things. One: they need to become better listeners. Two: they need to focus on the one thing that’s most important to get accomplished this year, this month, this week, today. And third, they need to treat everybody like family. Whether it’s your employees, your co-workers, your neighbors, treat everybody as you would treat a family member.
Those are the lessons that I teach to my executives week after week, month after month, year after year. They are the same lessons that we all need to keep learning and improving upon. So, I ask you, what is it that you need to work on? Is it your health? Is it your business acumen? Is it your attitude towards life? Take the music that drives you to deal with those issues that you’re facing and those obstacles that you need to overcome. And, with the help of coaches take yourself to the next level.
We all have those moments in time that we’ll never forget the day or where we were when that event happened. Perhaps it’s 9/11, or November 22nd. Maybe it’s 10 years ago during the China earthquake, or perhaps it was when you lost a parent, or a brother or sister. Maybe it was your wedding day. Maybe it was the moment that you discovered you were working in a toxic work environment, and you needed to get out of that situation. Perhaps it was the day you fell in love. Or, it could be that time you saw a starving refugee trying to get a cup of water or something to eat after traveling hundreds of miles escaping a war zone in their homeland, and it made you want to do something.
There are two songs with the same title “Do Something.” One is by Matthew West, and the other one is by my favorite band the Eagles. In Matthew West’s version, he talks about seeing troubles and asking God, “Why do you let this happen?”
Well, we’re put on the earth to do something about the things we see.
In the Eagles version, they talk about what’s happening in the world, and in society, and in our environment, and that we cannot just take up space. We must do something. So, I encourage you to listen to both of these songs in their entirety not just the highlights here in today’s blog. Then determine what you’re going to do to change the world. What are you going to do to leave this a better place?
How are you going to be a better citizen, a more engaged worker, a more compassionate boss, a more loving husband or wife, a more understanding parent?
I leave you with the music “Do Something” and encourage you to use it as your motivator to get out there and make a difference.
Recently, I was in San Diego at a conference and there was a video shown at one of our opening sessions. It was a music video by Tim McGraw called Humble and Kind.
It’s a very simple song that talks about being kind to people and being humble and grateful, not holding grudges or being bitter. But when his music is put with the cinematography in the video, it hits you hard, in the generations, the genders, the different cultures, the different stories that could be told in the faces that pop up on the screen. It’s an amazing video to watch.
You know, I always encourage people to be positive, to believe in themselves, and go after their goals, and believe they can be achieved. But as you’re achieving them, you need to stay humble. You need to be grateful, and remember who helped you get to where you’re going. Don’t forget those people that supported you when your days weren’t going well, those people that taught you great lessons, those that drove you to get to the next level.
And remember, as you achieve success, help others to achieve it as well. And always be humble and kind.
I’ve been asked many times who is my favorite group. I’d have to say my favorite band is the Eagles. Their music, the hundreds of songs that they’ve written and performed, have stayed with me throughout my years. Some songs like “Take It Easy” and “Desperado” and “Life In The Fast Lane” and “Take It To The Limit.” I’ve heard those songs hundreds of times, and “Hotel California” probably ten times that many.
Those songs resonate with me. They take me back to a certain time. There are many songs that when they come up on a classic radio station I can remember exactly where I was in my younger days or in my travels. I can remember being on the aircraft carrier serving in the military when certain songs from Chicago came out. I can remember songs when I was overseas, later on in my career that reminded me of being back home, and the mountains and the skies and the beaches that I missed.
There were songs that pumped me up and made me melancholy. That’s what songs can do for you. So whether you need a good song to exercise to or to motivate you to get that next piece of business or just to reminisce, identify what those songs are. Use them to take yourself to the next level.
If you have a song that you’d like to share with me, mention it in the comments section or send me an email. I’d love to hear from you.
I love that song by Johnny Cash – I’ve Been Everywhere, because I have been. I have traveled all over the United States with one job and I’ve traveled all over the world with another. The topic today is lifelong learner.
When I took each of those jobs, I was very confident in myself. I thought I knew everything. I didn’t know anything.
When I started traveling around the world, I needed to learn different cultures. I needed to learn different ways of doing business, and how families interacted, and how education was achieved in those countries. I need to learn who their border disputes were with and their history, which was, in most cases, a much deeper and longer history than the United States of America where I was coming from.
When I traveled around the United States, I realized that people were different in many ways, but same in others. Learn to take advantage of those environmental situations that you’re in and just absorb as a sponge, everything you can about that culture and about that person, that religion, that leadership style.
It makes you a better person. You need to be a lifelong learner. I’ve learned an awful lot of lessons in my career. They weren’t always from good experiences. I’ve had bad bosses. I’ve been in bad jobs. I’ve been in difficult situations which I wished I could have avoided.
But you know what? I learned from every one of those cases. I had a boss that taught me bad time management. I became a better manager of time because of it.
Let me give you another example. When I was in my 30s, I became the president of the Los Angeles Zoo Association. I had been in fundraising. I had run membership organizations. I knew how to work with people, but I really didn’t know much about animals, or captive breeding programs, or the importance of wildlife preservation.
I learned that from day one at the zoo. I gathered around me the docents, the men and women that volunteer at the zoo, that could teach me the important principles I needed to know to be the leader of the Zoo Association, so I could raise the money and run the operation in a successful way. I read books as fast as I could to understand the issues that were facing us in the 1980s.
By the time I had been president of that organization for a couple of years, I felt like I had been doing it all my life. But that was only achieved because I saw the value of being a lifelong learner.
I could have sat back and just said, “I know how to raise money. I know how to run retail operations. I know how to talk with people.” But, I really didn’t know the product. I didn’t know the services, and the mission of a zoo association, and a program that cared about saving the California Condor, the Arabian Oryx, and the Sumatran Rhino.
Once I understood the importance of those programs, I had the passion and the enthusiasm I needed for getting the mission accomplished.
The power of learning never ends. I’ve been on this earth a long time, and I’m still learning something new everyday, and you should too. I ask you to take away that commitment today to be a lifelong learner. Whether it’s by reading a book, or watching something on a video, or sitting down and having an espresso with somebody in a cafe someplace and finding out about their life and their culture.
Commit to do that each and every day. Find a new person, sit next to a stranger and get to know them. And when you have a bad boss, learn from him or her.
Have you ever made a mistake? Of course you have. We’ve all made hundreds, even thousands of them.
What can we do with them? Well, we could let them dwell within us. We could let them make us grumpy, discouraged, disappointed, angry, and cause us to get off track and distracted from our goal or dealing with the project or the person that needs to be our total focus.
Or, we can learn from them and not make them again. We could reflect on how we could have done something better or said those words softer or been a more compassionate listener.
And finally, you can get over it. You can’t worry about the last game. All you can worry about is the game that’s coming up, that next step you’re going to take, that next game you’re going to play, that next sales call you’re going to have. So when you screw up, suck it up and get over it.
If you’ve been listening to me since I started this Sounds of Change blog, you know I’m a classic rock guy – Beatles, The Eagles, Bob Seger, Springsteen. Some of you in your comments on my blog have said I need to get a little more up-to-date. I will work on that and will have some messages tied to some more current music in the weeks ahead.
Today, I’d like to tie in a couple of songs to what’s happening in the United States and in many parts of the world. It’s been a challenging time with some pretty traumatic raw news – the #metoo movement, #timesup, #menext, #neveragain. Young people are speaking up. Women are speaking up. And songs are resonating with the current change that’s going on in society for the good – songs like Sara Bareilles’ “Brave.” I think a powerful line is “Show me how big is your brave” or “Say what you want to say, and let the words fall out.” Katy Perry’s Roar- Eye of the Tiger – it’s a powerful song to exercise to, dance to, and right now. to listen to, as we go through changes in our society and our behavior. I encourage you to listen to these songs and hopefully they’ll resonate with you and help all of us be better people.
You just heard “Lean On Me” – a classic from many years ago. At the end of this message you’ll hear “Count On Me,” a more recent version with a similar message by Bruno Mars.
Whether you’re leaning or counting on somebody, we all need a coach. We all need that person who can give an unbiased opinion on how you’re coming across, at work, at home, or in the community.
How often have you been faced with an issue where you cannot easily come up with the answer by yourself? You’re afraid to ask your peers, or your subordinates, and sometimes even your family members. But you know you don’t know the answer.
Who is that person you can go to who can coach you through your decision-making process, or help you become self-aware of a strength or weakness that you need to overcome or build upon? I encourage everyone, regardless of their age or status or position at work, to have somebody who can give you a brutal, honest opinion on how you’re coming across, and how you can do better. That could be a coworker. It could be a third party who’s not related to your business or your community at all. You can learn it from books, but the most powerful way is to have someone who you can confidentially meet with whenever you need to, to wrestle through the issues you face.
Whether you call it a coach or a mentor or a counselor or a consultant, I encourage you to have that person in your life that you can count on. That you can lean on to make the decisions you face each and every day, at work, at home, and in your community. Take this out with a little Bruno Mars.
You know that song by Simon and Garfunkel – Sounds of Silence is one of my favorite songs from the 60s. The message I want to share with you today is the power of listening.
How often do we have conversations with somebody and we’re not listening?
You might say, “Oh I always listen to people, and I’m a good listener, and I’m polite.” But halfway through that conversation, do you start thinking about what you’re going to say in response to what they’ve just said? Are you trying to solve their problem as they’re telling you their problem? Are you trying to top their story when you should be just listening? You need to give 100 percent of your attention when somebody is talking.
The story about listening that I want to share with you is about Flight 1549. That’s the USAIR flight that Captain Sully flew into the Hudson River. It was about eight years ago. Captain Sully had just experienced total engine failure and he was speaking with the air traffic controllers and the different people that pilots have to speak to as they leave their airport and travel to their destination.
Listen to the transmission that day and you’ll discover the power of listening and maybe the power of not listening. Two examples – one, the pilot Captain Sully was talking to air traffic control and they were encouraging him to land in Teterboro Airport as he was announcing he was going into the Hudson. They weren’t listening. And then when Sully landed in the water or was about to land in the water, he heard his flight attendants saying “brace, brace for landing.” They were listening to the pilot’s directions and they were following the directions. Listening can be powerful in your personal life. It can be powerful in your corporate life too.
Here’s what I want you to do later today. When somebody starts a conversation with you, discipline yourself to listen that entire conversation. Don’t look at your phone. Don’t look at your laptop. Don’t think about what you’re going to say. Don’t think about how this conversation is frivolous and not important to you. Just focus in on what that person is saying and care about what they’re saying. Give it all of your energy until that person is finished speaking and only then do you respond.
Try that today. You might find it’s hard but it’s important.