3 unlikely Professors

I recently had a productive six week gap between projects, the first time I’ve had that kind of length break since Uni holidays back in the daaaaaay.  While the weather wasn’t always particularly summery, it gave me a great chance to spend time with the family, smashed through a mountain of jobs around the house, and as is my want, listen to the Beastie Boys.

Loud.
On repeat.

For those who are interested, it was the Solid Gold Hits (2004) album that earned the solid gold workout.  Do yourself a favour, and go buy it.  Chock full of gems.

It was half way through mowing the back lawn that I realised that in spite of some of their lyrics being absurd, bordering on demented, these 3 dudes from Brooklyn really do know what it’s all about.

Those of you who have followed the blog for a while now will know, I’m a fan of Top Lists.  So here’s 7 lessons I learned from the Beastie Boys in the Spring of 2018, presented to you via song.

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“Foot on the pedal – never ever false metal
Engine running hotter than a boiling kettle
My job’s ain’t a job – it’s a damn good time
City to city – I’m running my rhymes
On location – touring around the nation
Beastie Boys always on vacation”

Simple lesson here.

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There’s almost limitless online posts, posturing and pontificating about “Follow your passion”, or “You can be anything you want to be“, counterpointed by just as many that say that’s a load of horsesh!t, and if you could be anything you wanted when you grew up, there’d definitely be a lot more astronauts, race car drivers and supermodels than there currently are.

Regardless of which camp you’re in, it’s safe to say there’s no doubt if you enjoy your job, whatever it might be, you’re likely to succeed at it, and if you succeed at it, you’re likely to enjoy it even more.

If you’ve been lucky enough to land a job you love (and you will because you’re a bloody legend) and you work hard at establishing and maintaining a good Work Life balance, you’re well on your way to leading a fulfilling life.

My advice here is to take stock of where you’re at right now.  Is this your dream job?  Is this a stepping stone to your dream job?  Do you hate your job and the thought of spending another second there makes you want to stick a fork in your eye?  Only you can answer these, but spend an afternoon thinking about it.  It’ll be worth it I promise.

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“I Give Thanks For Inspiration
It Guides My Mind Along The Way
A Lot Of People Get Jealous, They’re Talking About Me
But That’s Just ‘Cause They Haven’t Got A Thing To Say

Over the last couple of years, there’s been a few times at work where I’ve been the subject of gossip, and while I don’t see how as I’m not that special, apparently also the subject of jealousy.

When I first heard people were talking sh!t about me, it struck me hard.  It took a few days of moping about and being hurt before I could function again at full capacity.

When I opened up to some close colleagues about it, they all said pretty much the same thing…

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Which is sound advice.

Although unfortunately, like much advice, is easy to hand out, but much harder to follow when someone gives it to you.

Ultimately all you can do is carry on with the business of doing your best, being you, and getting after it – whatever ‘it’ might be.  Every moment you spend worrying about what small minded people think of you, is a moment wasted.

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……and I’ve got places to be.

Now this ISN’T to say barnstorm your way through life without considering the consequences or impacts of your actions.  If you’re doing your best to act like a reasonable human and not punching people in the mouth on a regular basis, then stop worrying about jealous knuckleheads and get on with crushing life.

If you’re struggling to work out where it is you’re going, and more importantly, why you’re going there, drop everything and buy a book called The subtle art of not giving a f*ck by Mark Manson.  It’s an incredible read, and Disappointment Panda is a real highlight.

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“Dear New York I hope you’re doing well
I know a lot’s happen and you’ve been through hell
So, we give thanks for providing a home
Through your gates at Ellis Island we passed in droves”

Slightly different reason for this being on the list.  The song was written as an open letter to New York City after the 9/11 attacks.  What caught my ears about it was less around the specific words, but more around the way in which 8.5 million New Yorkers appear from the outside, to be more of a community than Sydney (where I live along with only 5 million other people).  It’s hard to pinpoint why, as I’ve never even been to New York.

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I guess the point here is to work hard to be in a community, whichever community you feel most comfortable in.  Try and find one who would actually give two sh!ts if something happened to it.

Could be your local community, could be a sporting community, crocheting community, could even be your team at work.  Regardless of which it is, a life lived alone is no life at all.

So get out there and join in.

Which transitions nicely into diversity & inclusion.  If your team at work, or more broadly your organisation only hires, say, middle-aged white men, then that team’s perspective is likely going to be limited to a peculiarly narrow focus.

Broaden the spectrum, even a little, and you’re going to naturally have a broader set of ideas.  Ideas and innovation come from experiences, both conscious and sub-conscious, so the more types of people with more types of experiences you have in your team, well….the better.

A special shout-out to my good friend Rebecca England who was recently recognised for her relentless work on Diversity & Inclusion with Transport for NSW.  You’re a superstar and I wish I had the energy and resilience you do.  Keep up the great work champion!

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“From the Hudson River out to the Nile
I run the marathon to the very last mile”

Apart from the fact this is my kids favourite song in the entire world (aged 3 and 5…they love to kick it old skool), there’s no doubt putting effort in from beginning to end, in any undertaking, is critical to its success.

Sure there will be challenges, there’ll be obstacles, and in many cases, 100’s of perfectly good reasons to give up and quit, but a very wise man once said “If you’re going through hell, keep going”.  Again, sound advice.

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“Now let me get some action from the back section
We need body rockin’ not perfection
Let your back bone flip but don’t slip a disc
And let your spine unwind just take a risk”

Two simple messages in one verse.

1. Do something.

You can plan all you like, but if you never execute, it’s simply that, a plan.  Startups call it Minimum Viable Product, Patton called it Standard Operating Procedure, you should call it any day of the week ending in Y.

I wrote a few months back about action, and how simply taking that first step will make all the difference.  It’s true.  Humans were built to move, to strive, to grow.  Don’t atrophy on the couch.  Get after it.

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2. Take smart risks.

Not unnecessary risks, as that’s just reckless, but understand that without risk, there’s no reward.

“There’s no growth in the comfort zone.”
– Leif Babin

Apply for that amazing job you’re not at all qualified for, start that market stall business selling tiny rocks you’ve painted a face on, or start an online business selling subscription box cigars*, it doesn’t matter.

Just. Do. Something.

Now this isn’t about betting the entire house on a wild business idea (like subscription cigars…) where if it fails you’ll literally end up on the street.  It’s about being smart and considering the risks, setting your limits and, this is important, understanding WHAT YOU CAN AFFORD TO LOSE.  Then, and only then, giving it everything you’ve got.

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The lesson here isn’t about leadership.  It’s about a boy’s dream, which he never ever gave up on.  Having a goal and sticking to it no matter what.

Sure the plan on how to arrive there changed, but the goal never did.  Sure it took years to eventually happen, it meant sacrifice, long hours, saving his pennies, and it was most definitely an impractical dream, but the lesson is clear.

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….and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the lyrics of the song.

I’ve dreamed of owning an old Mustang for as long as I can remember.

Every.  Single.  Day for the decade or so I’ve checked all the apps, the websites, even the newspaper classifieds looking for the right one.

After years of picturing it, imagining it, playing out the scene in my head, with this song playing loud, it happened.

And goddamn it was worth the wait.

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P.S. it’s not a mistake this video is from Star Trek.  This scene gets me fired up every time I watch it.

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“But your teacher preaches class like you’re some kind of jerk
You gotta fight for your right to party
Your pop caught you smoking, and he said, “No way!”
That hypocrite smokes two packs a day”

This is such an important leadership lesson that if I could, I’d put this one in twice so you don’t forget it.

Don’t smoke cigarettes!”

“Why not?  You do!”

“Because I said so!”

Hal Moore wrote if, as a leader, your answer to a question from your team is ever

“Because I said so.”

then you’re no leader at all.  It’s easily the worst approach to leadership that I see.  Sure, there might well be emergency situations where you’re barking instructions in order to save life, limb or property, and you can de-brief and explain yourself afterwards, but in a standard work environment, let’s be honest, this is unlikely.

Take the time to explain decisions to your team.  Take the time to explain to them the ‘why‘, not only the ‘how’.  Apart from the fact that often they’ll point out obvious mistakes in your reasoning, they’ll be 243%** more likely to buy-in to whatever you’re looking to achieve, and likely to give you a far superior result than you could have ever imagined.

This works amazingly well with children as well by the way.  If you take the time to explain to your kids the why behind your instruction, you will see an immediate change in their response and attitude to your instruction.

“Pick that wet towel up off the floor!!” becomes,

What happens if you don’t pick that wet towel up and we just leave it there?  Well, it’ll eventually get manky and smelly, then it’ll get mouldy, then you might get sick, then if you’re sick you can’t play with your mates.”

Obviously this is over-egged a little to suit a 5 year old’s imagination, but let me tell you, he doesn’t leave his towel on the floor anymore.  He now owns the outcome.

Parenting win.

 

So that’s it.  That’s the 7 lessons I learned from the Beastie Boys in the Spring of 2018.  Was I surprised?  Well, a little.  When you listen to some of their lyrics, you’re 100% convinced these guys are from another planet, but if you listen, and I mean really listen, you can learn lessons from anywhere, everywhere, and every day.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Have you learned valuable lessons from strange places?  Song lyrics?  Movies?  Kid’s TV shows?  Let us know – we’d love to hear!  Get in touch via the Contact Page, or leave a comment below.

 

* hit me up if you’re interested in talking about this as a business idea.  As an Authorised Tobacco Retailer (seriously) I am actually allowed to do this, I’ve just never gotten around to it.

** zero research done to support this claim.

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