The Joy of Discovery

Discover for YourselfI first picked up the guitar in 1976.  I was a sixth grader and the guitar was a borrowed Harmony.  I set out, at first anyway, teaching myself using a guitar method (records and books) by Kenny Rogers, then a member of the First Edition.

Before long, I found a teacher on the recommendation of a friend.  Don taught me to read music (The Joe Fava Method for Guitar for guitar fans).  But he also taught me the songs of my heroes:  Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, and others.  Don had an incredible ear for music and taught me note-perfect rhythm and solos.  Remember, this was long before the days of the internet, YouTube, tablature charts ad nauseum and the like.  There were, in fact, very few songbooks for the music I loved.  Led Zeppelin Complete was the exception.

Don learned all sorts of songs by ear and taught them to me.  You have to go back into a time capsule to appreciate what this entailed:  Listening, over and over, to songs on a 33 and 1/3 vinyl album, picking up the needle and starting over, etc.  until you got it.  From his work, I learned songs like “Don’t Want You No More” (Allman Bros. Band); “Roundabout” (Yes); “Ten Years Gone” (Led Zeppelin); and “Purple Haze” (Jimi Hendrix).  It was exhilarating.

In subsequent years–again before the avalanche of information, courtesy of the digital age–I followed the same method, dragging out records and listening to them over and over again to get a song just right.  I remember doing this with “Leader of the Band” by Dan Fogelberg.  The exhilaration only heightened.

There’s something about digging things out for yourself, mining your own vein of gold and connecting the dots via your own sweat that having something handed to you just doesn’t cut.

Challenge:  Whatever your vocation, hobby, avocation, etc., pop the hood, get inside for yourself, explore, experiment, play around.  It’s kind of like apple pie:  Why is it that apple pies made from apples from your own apple tree just seems to taste better?  It’s the same idea.

You’ll be delighted with all the cool things you figure out for yourself!

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39

39Guilty pleasure:  Sometimes it’s a lot of fun to play head games with somebody, especially if they’re close to you.

I decided to do this with a colleague today at work.  “Listen to this,” I chatted him, “it will mess with your head.”

This song was written by a post-graduate student of Astrophysics in England, mid 1970’s.

Though it sounds like a song chronicling the beginning of World War II, it is actually about spaceships, time travel, physics and Einsteinian relativity.

It was written by one Brian May.  Um, er, Dr. Brian May.

Brian May was working on his doctorate in Astrophysics in the mid 1970’s when his group, Queen, hit the big time.  Really big.

He left off his education.  For the time being anyway.  One strikes the anvil when it’s hot.  And Queen was hot after the release of A Night At the Opera, which featured this song.

It’s the story of a big spaceship that takes off with a crew, traveling at the speed of light.  Though away for a year, they return to the world now a hundred years older though they have aged a year.  It’s theoretical physics.  Time, a physical property that varies with mass and gravity.  It’s the creation of a physicist, not someone on LSD.  I love this.

A few years ago, Brian May resumed his studies and earned his Ph.D.  How inspiring!  And he is one of my favorite guitarists ever.

Enjoy!

39

In the year of thirty-nine
Assembled here the volunteers
In the days when lands were few
Here the ship sailed out into the blue and sunny morn
The sweetest sight ever seen
And the night followed day
And the story tellers say
That the score brave souls inside
For many a lonely day
Sailed across the milky seas
Ne’er looked back, never feared, never cried

Don’t you hear my call
Though you’re many years away
Don’t you hear me calling you
Write your letters in the sand
For the day I take your hand
In the land that our grandchildren knew

In the year of thirty-nine
Came a ship in from the blue
The volunteers came home that day
And they bring good news
Of a world so newly born
Though their hearts so heavily weigh
For the earth is old and grey
Little darlin’, we’ll away
But my love this cannot be
Oh so many years have gone
Though I’m older but a year
Your mother’s eyes from your eyes cry to me

Don’t you hear my call
Though you’re many years away
Don’t you hear me calling you
All your letters in the sand
Cannot heal me like your hand
For my life, still ahead, pity me

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Lido Shuffle: Iacocca On Leadership

Iacocca“Apply yourself. Get all the education you can, but then, by God, do something. Don’t just stand there. Make it happen.”

Lido Anthony “Lee” Iacocca.  Father of the Ford Mustang.  Brought Chrysler out of bankruptcy in the late 1970’s.  Helped bring the quality of US car making to another level entirely.

His grandmother gave this bit of sound advice [above quote] about leadership and initiative.  One really can’t improve on it.

“Apply Yourself”

Ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.  If you’re going to make a difference in your career, your social circles and organizations, you’ve got to have initiative.  Be a self-starter.  Remake yourself into an individual who doesn’t require external motivation and motivators—read bosses—to get into gear.  Take the ball and run with it.  Don’t wait for permission.  People will be amazed.

“Get All The Education You Can”

I’m at the half century mark of my life journey.  To get ahead to places I want to be and to do the things I want to do, I have to learn more.  Go back to school.  Lots of people are going back to college or getting specialty training in all sorts of fields: IT, medicine, law, banking, social sciences, etc.  College is not just for the young and you’ll be surprised how many older people are returning there, refusing to rust away.  My mom earned her Ph.D in her sixties.  You can do it and so can I.  Check out the possibilities.

“Do Something”

Simple physics tells us that a body at rest tends to stay at rest, unless acted on by an external force and a body in motion tends to stay in motion the same way.  The law of inertia.  Get busy, get schooled, and get going.  Activity and effort bring a return.  Do this and enjoy the rewards of your labor.

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And now for your retro enjoyment….

Einstein On the Importance of Education

“It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom. Without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail.”

–Albert Einstein

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Lee On Leadership

“Apply yourself. Get all the education you can, but then, by God, do something. Don’t just stand there. Make it happen.”

Lee Iacocca.  Father of the Ford Mustang.  Brought Chrysler out of bankruptcy in the late 1970’s.  Helped bring the quality of US car making to another level entirely.

His grandmother gave this bit of sound advice [above quote] about leadership and initiative.  One really can’t improve on it.

“Apply Yourself”

Ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.  If you’re going to make a difference in your career, your social circles and organizations, you’ve got to have initiative.  Be a self-starter.  Remake yourself into an individual who doesn’t require external motivation and motivators—read bosses—to get into gear.  Take the ball and run with it.  Don’t wait for permission.  People will be amazed.

“Get All The Education You Can”

I’m at the mid-point of my life journey.  To get ahead to places I want to be and to do the things I want to do require me to learn more.  Go back to school.  Lots of people are going back to college or getting specialty training in all sorts of fields: IT, medicine, law, banking, social sciences.  College is not just for the young and you’ll be surprised how many older people are returning there, refusing to rust away.  My mom earned her Ph.D in her sixties.  You can do it and so can I.  Check out the possibilities.

“Do Something”

Simple physics tells us that a body at rest tends to stay at rest, unless acted on by an external force and a body in motion tends to stay in motion the same way.  The law of inertia.  Get busy, get schooled and get going.  Activity and effort bring a return.  Do this and enjoy the rewards of your labor.

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The Hard Work Variable In Success

If you stop by The Upside often, you’ll know that I mentor young leaders about once a week.  A handful of guys in their twenties meet with me and we discuss leadership, family, career and steps to success.  We had a great meeting today.

A couple of these men work between 90-100 hours a week.

No, that wasn’t a typo.

90-100 hours every week, holding down multiple jobs.

You simply cannot expect to advance in your career, increase your income and become exceptional in your vocations and avocations without putting time into them.  A lot of time.

There are no shortcuts.  Those who are “getting rich quick” with cheap moneymaking schemes will eventually lose.  Being clever is not necessarily the mark of being a professional.  Nor is it a benchmark of character.

These guys earn my respect.  They are putting out to get ahead for their families—multiple jobs, college and vocational schooling.  And they carve out a couple of hours each week to meet and be challenged.

I’ve long admired the cultural, economic and vocational achievements of the Jewish people.  Jews make up less that 1% of the world’s population and yet have won almost 25% of all Nobel Prizes awarded since 1901.

This is due in part to a sober understanding that to get ahead and make an impact in the world takes an enormous amount of focus and hard work over many years.  The Jewish people have understood this as well as any people group in history.

God initially set the bar for humanity when He said, “Six days you shall labor and do your work.  The seventh is a Sabbath (rest) to the Lord your God.”  The Hebrew day was a twelve hour day.  That alone—as my pastor Kirk Gilchrist has pointed out a number of times—comprises 72 hours.

There are no shortcuts.

I left our meeting challenged by the lifestyle of my colleagues.  How much would my skills as a writer and a musician improve—exponentially—if I worked 90-100 hours each week (including my 40 hour job)?

How much indeed?

Time to get at it.

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Job Security By Design

Living in the soup of a stagnant economy presents many challenges one might not otherwise face in a time of prosperity.  Navigating a volatile employment market takes ingenuity, drive, and out-of-the box thinking.  And not a little personal sacrifice.

Depending on where you reside, the unemployment rate currently hovers between 7-10%.  It is an employer’s market, even in the armed forces.  One career Army sergeant told me a few summers ago that the job security of being able to reenlist is a thing of the past.  Those who wish to do so are carefully scrutinized.  A record of poor performance, apathy, dust-ups with the law (read bar fights), etc., and your chances of being rehired are remote indeed.  Even the US Army can now pick and choose.

As well, many highly educated veterans in banking, IT, retail, and other markets, having been downsized, are now taking the simplest jobs, with high mortgages and school bills coming due without fail.

What to do?

I believe that job security is best stewarded in one’s own hands.  Labor unions can only go so far.  Those who keep their skills current, their work ethic stellar, their thinking creative, and their drive unimpaired stand the best chance of finding and maintaining gainful, even satisfying, employment in this competitive economy.

Here are some things you can do to hone your edge and increase your staying power:

  • Traditional continuing education.  This means everything from attaining or completing a degree program to adult enrichment courses at your local community college.  You must weigh the costs associated and determine the value of the investment.  It is a fantastic choice for many.
  • Internet tutorials.  There is so much free training material on the Web that one is able to complete a good deal of traditional education for little or no cost.  True, such training may not have the clout of an earned degree, but if it enables you to produce the results a company is looking for, you may get the job.  MIT and Stanford, to name just two outstanding schools, have a huge assortment of free courses online—computer programming to engineering and everything in between.  Avail yourself.
  • A second job outside your primary vocation.  It does not hurt at all to learn skills completely unrelated to your career.  I am an IT professional, but also a carpenter, musician and baker.  When the chips are down, I can look to these other fields for income and production.  If it means taking a second job at low pay and bottom of ladder, do it.  You will learn a new skill, valuable in itself.  And it may well keep you afloat in the days ahead.

Remember, you may have to train on your own time and dime.  Make the sacrifice.  Your sense of self-accomplishment as well as potential marketability are worth the effort!

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