Music is my passion. Having been a musician for two decades and also a part of the corporate world, I can’t help but think about several correlations between music and our ever-evolving corporate world.
I have learned a few life lessons from playing with a progressive rock band to audiences of varying sizes.
To be an appealing musician/performer, one has to possess certain traits that are also expected in the corporate realm.
Keep the Pace – Have you come across bands that just can’t play a song in time? Bad drummer syndrome? There are several theories pertaining to this fiasco. At the top is adrenaline rush. Very often, when we get a high from one little victory, we tend to lose focus and fumble at the next step. The ability to contain excitement while staying focused on the target is paramount. Dream Theater, one of my favorite bands had to undergo a critical surgery – a drummer replacement. This was a dramatic turn of events, considering the complexity of the music they play. As magical as the experience was, when I watched them perform live, certain facets skyrocketed my respect for the band. When the band performed their toughest songs, some of the musicians would get close to the drummer and maintain eye contact with him to ensure he was comfortable. In today’s world, where neglecting those who miss the rhythm is the preferred mantra, it’s an inexplicable feeling to know that there are colleagues around to watch your back and help you keep the pace.
Hear Each Other – When I started my musical career, my focus while on stage was to be loud. The delusion that the most attention came to the loudest on stage often jeopardized the end goal. The soulfulness of a band’s music is at its best when each musician masters the art of complimenting another. This priceless trait has become rare in today’s work culture wherein every individual/department wants to be at the forefront forgetting the fact that complementing one another is the path to success.
Stay Still – During the early days of my musical journey, someone gave me an advice that I’ve held onto tenaciously; learn to be still when you have to. As a musician, I’ve understood that it’s not necessary to be busy throughout a song or a setlist. As irrational as it sounds, there is a deep sense of beauty in stillness. By exercising dormancy and allowing another musician to take the lead, we display humility. While departmental dynamics demand a degree of prominence that is highly conspicuous, developing the art of being still is highly germane to the success of any project at hand. Also, we forget to enjoy the beauty nestled in the subtle nuances of a project by being so engrossed in those aspects that are uncalled for. Optimizing potential opportunities to stay still is a powerful way to gain a sense of satisfaction and appreciation for the task at hand.
Effective Communication – I’ve heard bands hailing curses at the sound engineer. At a point in my musical career, this was my demon too; blame the sound engineer for everything that possibly went wrong. Eventually, I pondered over these experiences and had a rude awakening. I realized that I had failed to effectively communicate with the person at the sound console about what was twitching my nerves. After a disappointing concert, the engineer told me “I didn’t understand your gestures and I wish you just spoke words.” To each his own! While emails might prove to be an effective mode of communication to some, a phone call or an in-person conversation might make a world of difference to another. The ability to choose the most optimum mode of communication paves the way to better collaborations and relationships.
Backup Plan – I have a vivid picture of an accident that happened at the very first concert I ever played. The stand on which my keyboard was mounted was quite flimsy and halfway through a song, it collapsed. I froze and didn’t have an inkling of what to do. Two people from the crowd came running to the stage and helped me fix the mess. Since then, more than the material to be performed, my mind is occupied with back up plans. While the chances of my keyboard completely malfunctioning on stage are rare, a drummer breaking his sticks is a sight at almost every show. Very often, it’s the backup strategies that act as deal-breakers.
Even if you aren’t a musician, I’m hopeful that you have attended a concert or two. The thoughts that have been shed light upon are from my personal experiences and I hope it helps us understand that no matter how intricate each industry is, the underlying principles that bring forth a success story are universal.
Do you play an instrument? Are you part of a band? It doesn’t matter! I would love to hear your thoughts.