Lessons from Music: Balance

In any ensemble that you listen to, there is a natural balancing of the sounds that create the unique qualities of that group.  For instance, the Chicago Philharmonic tends to have a very live and prominent brass sound; the rock group Maroon Five has a much brighter rhythm guitar sound than has become common; and Harry Connick, Jr., as a piano player, has a heavy and very rhythmic left hand.

But regardless of what stands out, it is always the blending of all the sounds that make the group worth listening to.  Imagine the driving rhythm guitar of Maroon Five without the equally pulsating drumset playing–it just doesn’t have the same energy.  Smart musical groups highlight what they do best, but they never allow that quality to bury the sounds of the other members.

Much like how smart people run their lives: know what you do best and emphasize it, but don’t sacrifice the other necessary skills to make your dreams come true.  For example, if you are great with numbers and want to build a Life around number management, great–just keep in mind that at some point you will have to explain the numbers to somebody, so build some skill at writing and speaking, as well.

The Gurus of Get It

Published in: on March 30, 2011 at 11:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Challenge: Pay The King His Shilling

Gen. Colin Powell wrote of one of the great lessons he learned early in his military career: You pay the king his shilling, get him off your back, and then go about doing what you consider important.  If, for example, you are going to judge me on AWOL rates, I’m going to send a sargeant out by 6:30 a.m. to bloodhound the kid who failed to show up for 6:00 a.m. reveille.  The guy’s not considered AWOL until midnight.  So drag him back before then and keep that AWOL rate down.  I vigorously set out to better every indicator by which my brigade was statistically judged.  And then went on to do the things that I thought counted.

This is tied in to humility: learn how to play by the rules, even if you don’t think they’re important. That is, play by the rules enough that it doesn’t become a barrier to your success.

What do you do in your life on a daily basis that you find onerous?  And is it really necessary?  More importantly, does somebody whose support you count on find it important, even if you don’t?  This week, start taking those little tasks seriously–“get him off your back”–so you can turn your attention to things that might really show off your talent.

The Gurus of Get It!

Published in: on March 27, 2011 at 10:38 pm  Comments (1)  

Living the Dream

Tonight we have an example of someone who really “Gets It”–a perfect example of someone who chose their Perfect Life, pursued it, and made it happen.

Brad Stevens graduated from DePauw University in 1999 after playing on the school’s basketball team for 4 years with an economics degree, and proceeded into a position as a marketing associate at Eli Lilly and Co.  But the basketball bug was under Stevens’ skin, and in the summer of 2000 he left Lilly to take a volunteer position with the basketball program at Butler University, performing a variety of administrative tasks and helping work out the team members.   Eventually he worked his way up to paid administrative assistant, director of basketball operations, and then assistant coach.  Finally, in 2007, at the very young age of 30, Stevens was named head basketball coach.  Since then, all he’s managed to do is lead the Butler Bulldogs to 110 wins in four years (an NCAA record) and win two Horizon League Coach of the Year Awards.

Brad Stevens had a safe route charted, one that would have provided for him and his family.  But his Passions lay elsewhere, and he made the choice while he was still young to grab his dream and make his Perfect Life.

So . . . what do you do that you would be willing to volunteer to do just so you could be a part of it?

The Gurus of Get It

Published in: on March 24, 2011 at 11:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Challenge: Preparation

We’ve talked a bit in recent weeks about the importance of picking the right moment to press ahead to your on the path to your Dream.  But implicit in “picking your moment” is the hardest part of doing anything properly: waiting.

Waiting is one of those odd activities that doesn’t seem like activity–it certainly doesn’t look like activity to the people around you.  And in some cases, that perception makes it difficult for people to understand what you’re doing, which makes it difficult for them to help and support you.  Besides which, the need to “do” leaves many people who are attempting something great anxious, like a caged lion.

So USE YOUR TIME WISELY.  If you are in a position of waiting for your moment, sharpen your mind by immersing it in the writings of people who have made the same trip you are attempting; sharpen your tongue by engaging smart people who disagree with you in conversation; sharpen your body and spirit by exercising.

In short, do not confuse “waiting” with “resting.”  A period of waiting should be seen as nothing less than an opportunity to deepen your preparation for what is to come.

Don’t waste it.

The Gurus of Get It

Published in: on March 21, 2011 at 11:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Lessons From Music: Tension and Release

There is a truly wonderful piece of music from the opera “Lohengrin” called “Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral.”  It is about 4-1/2 minutes long, and the first 3-1/2 minutes are a complex building of layers and dissonances that makes a listener feel like the world is tilted a little too far on its axis.  And then, when you don’t think it will ever find balance again, the music releases all the tension in one giant crescendo that resolves itself to into something truly glorious.

The “glorious” requires the “dissonance” to have meaning–it is as if the music accomplishes something by resolving the dissonance.

Welcome to life.

Your Perfect Life may often seem like those impossible 3-1/2 minutes of tension and instability as you put in the hours and the sweat necessary to build your Life. But without that struggle, without that inevitable difficulty in feeling relaxed and stable, you will not value your achievement the way you should.  When you finally hit that moment of making your dream a reality, it will be glorious, and the magnitude of that feeling will be in direct proportion to the tensions you had to resolve to arrive there.

So keep at it.  Even German operas end some time!

The Gurus of Get It!

Published in: on March 17, 2011 at 10:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Weekly Challenge: Honesty

We were thinking thoughts the other night as we were looking at the television offerings.  On the one hand, we had the opportunity to watch “American Idol,” and on the other hand, we could watch “The Bachelor.” The first possibility has always had as one of its main attractions a judge who is brutally and refreshingly honest, and the other is a show that features an assortment of attractive people all trying to mold themselves into some idea of what the ideal person is, whether or not that’s close to who they are or not.  We would rather watch “Idol.” 

One of the worst delusions you can indulge is the one that you can become whatever somebody else wants you to be, whether that’s a romantic partner or a boss.  It’s a dangerous delusion that also involves deception, and it will eventually collapse around you.  So this week’s challenge is to be honest about who you are–with yourself and with others.  It may not be comfortable all the time, but it’s a lot easier than trying to maintain a facade over months and years just to make someone else happy. 

The Gurus of Get It!

Published in: on March 13, 2011 at 11:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Looking at the Other End of the Spectrum

We spend a lot of time trying to encourage you to imagine and create your Best Self, and we realize sometimes that living up to that ideal can be daunting.  So every once in a while we like to take a moment, try to find some humor, and show you what the other side of the story–people who clearly do not Get It–looks like.  For instance:

:a story out of Pennsylvania, in which police picked up a two year old girl wandering the streets on a cold day.  Turns out she was on her own because her mother was . . . wait for it . . . at a court-ordered parenting class.

:or then there’s the guy in Oregon who broke in to a house, and then felt compelled to call 911–from inside the house–because he thought the homeowner might have a gun.

Just can’t make this stuff up.

The Gurus of Get It!

Published in: on March 9, 2011 at 11:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Lessons from Music: Rhythm

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, lead on to fortune”–Julius Caesar

In making a move, know how to choose the right moment”–Tao teh Ching

One of the most visceral qualities of music is its rhythm–the organization of sounds through time.  It is one of the unique aspects of music relative to other art forms: a painting does not move in time, nor does a book.  And that is, perhaps, why music is one of the oldest art forms, because rhythm is easy to create (ask Bobby McPherrin) and yet reaches into some of the most primitive places in our psyches.  The truly great musicians understand rhythm in ways average musicians do not, and know the uses of both frantic movement and patient stillness.

Life is like that.  How often have you heard stories of two people who had a blazing love affair, but it was “just the wrong time”? 

Plowing straight ahead all the time is not necessarily the smartest way to get down the road to your Perfect Life.  Try to become adept at recognizing the patterns of life around you, so you can move “at the flood” on to great fortune.

The Gurus of Get It!

Published in: on March 3, 2011 at 12:56 am  Leave a Comment