So I learned something last night that I suppose I already knew. But it still made an impression.
There are 2 ways to do something. Kick-ass or every other way. And the thing is, kicking ass makes you feel like you matter. Kicking ass equals success. Kick-ass counts.
So we know this. It seems trivial. And a lot of times, not kicking ass seems like the smarter way to go. But it always catches you when it counts. Ask GM. So here’s my story:
There were a lot of successful bands in the 80s. Among them were Motley Crue and Prince. I happened to see both of them last night (It’s helpful to know that I have what Seth Godin describes as an Authentic Fringe Bias).
Motley Crue played a huge arena. They had fireworks. A throng of cheering fans. Probably a really big bus. But the whole show was really kind of sad. A lot like watching your parents trying to be hip.
They started at 8:00 (I’m kind of a concert snob, and starting at 8:00 is, well… it sucks). They played all of their “hits.” Everything was perfectly scripted, and it was an exact replica of their shows in 1989. But the thing about art is this: Replicas suck. I don’t really understand why, but they just do. And that concert was a replica. No soul. A lot like GM or Delta or Compaq. Looks successful on the outside, right? But how do you sleep at night knowing you just went through the motions?
Prince, on the other hand, was the opposite. For starters, the show was something of a secret. We only stumbled upon it because we were a block away. It was in a very small venue. The man didn’t go on until 12:30 and played until 3:00. He created. Right there on the spot he was making up music. He exuded vibrant creativity and it was pouring out into the audience. He was the opposite of a replica. And you know what? You can tell that he does it for all the right reasons. I mean if Prince went on a “hits” tour, he could sell out football stadiums. But he doesn’t. He goes on creating for the sake of it, and I’ll bet he sleeps like a baby.
Here’s the thing: If you spend 1/3 of your time at work, shouldn’t it matter? Shouldn’t you positively affect everyone you touch? Wouldn’t you rather be Apple or Chipotle or BMW? The thing that businesses and business people forget is that a company can have a soul. That a company should have a soul. That it’s better to count than to simply produce.
So here was the lesson that was reaffirmed to me: No one lies on their
deathbed wishing they had played it safe. Or wishing that they had more
money. Everyone who is lucky to live long enough to even have regrets
wishes they had mattered. Everyone wishes they had kicked-ass. You can kick-ass. I can kick-ass. It’s just a little harder. But you know what?
It’s worth it.