The Player Piano & Leadership: Writing Your Own Song in Life
Re-post: When I was a kid, my grandmother had a player piano that defined cool. What did you want to hear: Johnny Be Good? Check. Chantilly Lace? Yep. Pants on the Ground? Nope (joke). Whatever song you wanted, I could play them all (as long as we had the paper roll music for it)! I could draw a crowd and fill a room, but knew nothing more than how to turn the thing on and insert the paper rolls.
I see a variety of young leaders, entrepreneurs and artists fall into the same trap. We see success in others and attempt to emulate that success by being exactly like someone we respect. We want to draw the crowd, build the quick following and set the room on fire! While there is certainly nothing wrong with aspiring to be like someone else, I believe we are created uniquely. NO ONE else is like you (If you don’t believe me, study genetics or just go your local mall for an hour and look around). You are not Elvis or Buddy Holly, you are the next original song. Write your own song in life!
A couple of helpful questions to ask yourself….
Do you know what your values are in life? This is when you find your melody….
What are your values? Many of us truck through life with little thought of what is most important to us. Don’t do this; life is too short! Determine your personal values and learn to live a life centered around those values. (Example of one of my top core values is: leaders- if one can influence leaders, he can influence nations. I have identified seven other core values.) As you identify values, your chances of honoring those through your lifestyle will be significantly higher. This is your unique melody. By determining your values, you will have freedom to live your life based on who you are, instead of what you can achieve. Resources below…
Is your song unique? This is when your melody becomes its own…
Write a song worth hearing with your life, unique to who you are. If your life was a song, what would it sound like? Are you doing something with your life, simply because someone else told you that is what you would be good at? What if they were wrong? You only have one shot at this thing, make it count!
Do you learn from others? This is your harmony…
In general, harmony refers to the combination of notes played. Harmony makes melody better. When you have a good melody to build on, harmony makes it great! As you determine your values in life, learn from others to bring depth and perspective to those values. Remember, there is a difference between wanting to be just like others and learning from others. Do the latter. Have an appetite for learning. Observe, ask questions, seek out others in your field and sit with them. Where do you see your values intersecting with theirs. Where do you see your values conflicting with theirs? Who can you learn from? It’s okay to want to be like someone else, just know that are still unique!
Are you in it for the long haul? This is your rhythmn…
Rhythmn flows in and out. It’s the timing of the music that makes it flow. It helps provide organization. Success in your life comes at a cost: discipline over time. What are you willing to give up? Discipline, sacrifice, hard work. Get into a rhythmn in life that sustains your song. Have some space in life. Change up your rhythmn when things get stagnant. Mix things up and take a look back at your values.
You may like: Mastering Time & Influencing the World- 5 Things I’ve Learned About Time, Focus & Eating Frogs. These are notes from a helpful session I did last year for a group of about 50 leaders from around the country.
Here are a few resources that have helped me: Focused Living: Online with Terry Walling. Reading through A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. What has helped you identify your personal values in life? Who do you learn from? How have you developed discipline?