Thursday, December 18, 2014

Nothin' But a Good Time

I’m a fan of music. That’s no secret. I also grew up in the 80’s, so naturally I have an affinity for all things hard rock (yes, sometimes referred to as “hair bands” today). Why does that matter? Because my iPhone has a decent variety of 80’s hard rock on it and in introducing my two boys (ages 4 and 5 now) to a wide variety of musical genres they have taken a liking to many of the 80’s classics (I don’t know, maybe it’s the stadium size drums, or shredding guitar riffs – who can blame them, really). Well, the other day while driving home and listening to some tunes together, Poison’s hit “Nothin’ But a Good Time” comes on.  My two boys immediately respond with an enthusiastic “Oh yeah” and begin singing along. Then, my 4-year old interrupts and wants to have a conversation.

“Daddy,” he bellows over the music, “you wanna know what the game is?”

“The game?” I ask.

“Yeah, it’s complicated,” he continues, still speaking loudly as though trying to talk over the music, even though I have lowered the sound. “In this song, he wants to have the best time. But for him, singing rock n’ roll is the best time. So he’s already having the best time.

“Huh,” I remark, dumbfounded.

“Yeah, and that’s the game.”

“So, the game is finding your best time, and then doing whatever that is?” I ask, the teacher now having become the student.

“Yeah,” he affirms, “and for him it’s singing rock n’ roll, and he’s doing it!”

I smile, and look in the rearview mirror at the little boy who was once not too long ago a baby and see him growing before my eyes, gaining a glimpse at the man he will all too soon become.

“That’s right,” I say, “he’s doing what he loves. He wants the best time, and he is having it.”

Kids say the darndest things, that’s for sure. But sometimes it takes the simple, enthusiastic words of a child discovering the world around him to help us realize some of life’s truths. Thank you, Bret Michaels and Co. for inspiring that moment with my son, and for inspiring him to reflect on your situation – you pursued your passion of music, never gave up, and succeeded. And that deserves recognition. When you live your passion, when you do what you love, life ain’t nothin’ but a good time. Here's a link to Poison's video:

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Honesty is Always the Best Policy

Honesty is always the best policy. I honestly believe that. Whether in business, with family, friendships or other relationships, being truthful always leads to the right result. It doesn’t always produce the most immediately satisfying result (and in fact can often lead to awkward or challenging moments), but in the long run it is definitely best for everyone involved. Think about it, decisions and actions made on false premises will ultimately lead to false outcomes, and eventually need to be corrected. (I am of course talking about long-term results here. Lying and cheating can “get you ahead” in the short-term, but even then your reputation and credibility will be tarnished. You know the old saying, “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, well . . .”). In any event, I think it is pretty clear how honesty builds a strong foundation in all facets of life. However, the greatest challenge is not always being honest with others, it is being honest with yourself. 
Very often you will hear people say that the key to success is doing what you love, and following your passions. I am one of those people you will hear saying this, and I absolutely believe it to be true. The trick is knowing what you love and knowing what your true passions are in life, which requires you to be brutally honest with yourself. Doing what you love or living your passion is all about life’s journey. It is not about some destination or goal you have set out to achieve. What do I mean by that? Many people focus on the potential fruits of their labor, instead of focusing on the labor itself. That’s a problem, because your labor is what you are going to be doing day in and day out. In other words, your labor is your life’s journey. Doing what you love and living your passion should mean that you love and are passionate about your labor, the fruits from which you will also inevitably enjoy.
Take, for example, entertainers. Many people set out to be an actor or singer because really what they want is the fame and fortune that being an actor or singer potentially brings, not necessarily because they absolutely love and are passionate about acting or singing. Yet, they most likely do not realize this fact because they are not being honest with themselves, which is sometimes very hard to do. After all, they may be talented and even have some of the attributes associated with famous entertainers, and they may even be receiving encouragement to pursue such a career by family, friends, etc. who are also intrigued by the potential winning lotto ticket that success in the entertainment industry can be (by the way, you are better off playing the actual lottery). And let’s face it, they are probably dreamers, since they set out to accomplish such lofty goals, and heck, being an entertainer could be fun. The same is true for many who pursue becoming a professional athlete. How often do you hear about kids or young adults playing sports because they see it as a “way out” of their small town or inner city neighborhood? They are willing to pursue a labor that has perhaps the least likelihood of success, because of the potential fruits they may enjoy if successful (no matter how remote). The same holds true for business owners and entrepreneurs. Are you starting a business because you love and are passionate about the product or service you are going to provide? Or, are you just looking for a payday. Entrepreneurs who start out already thinking about an exit strategy are doomed to fail. Why? Because obviously they are focused only on the fruits of their labor, and not building the best damn company and business they can build.
Discovering who you are and what you are truly passionate about is one of life’s greatest challenges, but it is also one of the secrets to success and, ultimately, happiness. So try, really try, to be honest with yourself when it comes to who you are. Listen to that inner voice, and trust it. You already have the answer. After all, it is who you are.