Leadership Success…from Rock-N-Roll? Yup!

Music trivia time! What do the following have in common?

Ice Ice Baby (Vanilla Ice), Don’t Worry, Be Happy (Bobby McFerrin), Hey Mickey! (Toni Basil), and Mambo No. 5 (Lou Bega)

Select the best answer from the following: Is it…?

a. All reached the Billboard Top 100

b. All were performed by solo artists

c. All artists are one-hit wonders

d. You now have one of these songs stuck in your head (sorry!)

e. All of the above

The correct answer? E!

Repeat Success Is No Accident

To become a one-hit wonder requires a catchy tune, a decent promoter, some hard work, and a lot of luck. But what does it take to achieve repeated success—such as that enjoyed by the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Who, and Aerosmith? And what can we learn about success from these rock stars?

4 Things You Can Learn from the Best Rockers!

1. Set a Goal.

Legendary lead of the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger, had two loves: music and money. So he set a couple of goals. First, he pursued his love of music by listening to the hottest musicians in London while playing in his own band and developing his own style. Second, he chased his love of money by working towards a degree at the London School of Economics. It’s not by accident that Jagger runs the Rolling Stones like a marketing genius and an executive CEO. Nor is it by accident that Jagger is the 13th wealthiest musician in the world.

Regardless of what you aim to accomplish, start with a goal that aligns to your deepest desires and values. Then set your sights on it, and get moving. Where will you be at the end of 2015? Zig Ziglar said, “Aim at nothing, and you’ll hit it every time.”

2. Start With What You Know.

Last year, Rolling Stone readers rated the duo of McCartney/Lennon (The Beatles) as the #2 best songwriters of all time. But when The Beatles first melded together as a band in Hamburg, Germany, in the early 60s, they were a cover band—playing other musicians’ popular music. McCartney said the reason they later started writing their own music was because they got bored playing the same songs each night! But it was only after they mastered the songs they knew—the ones playing on the radio—that they could move on to creating new, unique music.

If you do one thing repeatedly, you may become naturally excellent at it—and you may find an avenue to grow beyond that skill. For example, if you’re a retail sales associate, maybe you can leverage what you’re learning today into a role in management or fashion designer. If you’re a CNA, perhaps you can use your healthcare passion as a stepping stone to become an LPN, RN, etc. If you’re a cook, it’s possible that you might find an even bigger spark by learning how to become a chef.

Each future success has a seed in today. Start where you are and with what you know today—and know when to take your experience to another level.

3. Make It Your Own.

In 1964, Guitarist Pete Townsend achieved one of the 50 Moments that Changed Rock-n-Roll when he smashed his guitar on stage. Quite a distinction. Not to be outdone, drummer Keith Moon put explosives in his drum set on a live comedy show, which VH1 reported, “caused guest Bette Davis to faint [and] set Pete Townshend’s hair on fire…”

What distinction do you crave? What can you do to get it? I’m not suggesting that you do something dangerous, stupid, and/or illegal as a gimmick to create your own notoriety. There are other ways to make it your own—within your value system. I worked with an IT guy named Kenny who was known for his smile. A nurse named Kim cared for me when I had a hospital stay, and I knew her by her gentle touch. I’ve been blessed with a neighbor named Karl who would answer every “Can-I-ask-you-a-favor?” question with a YES even before I told him what I needed (thanks for the kidney, Karl!).

4. Keep Going!

The “bad boys from Boston”, aka, Aerosmith, cranked out hit after hit in the early 1970s. But from the mid-70s until the mid-80s, they were a commercial and creative flop. But they didn’t quit.

It’s a good thing they didn’t, because in 1986 a hip-hop group named Run-D.M.C. created a cover of Walk This Way, introducing Aerosmith to a new generation of fans, and ultimately reinvigorating Aerosmith’s status as a chart-topping band. In 2000, VH1 ranked Aerosmith #11 on their 100 Greatest Artist of Hard Rock list, a feat that would never taken place had they given up! How can you keep going even when it’s tough? What breakthrough might be over the horizon?


Set a goal: Ask yourself, Where do I want to be by the end of the year? What do I want to change? What—or who—do I want to see more of in my life?

Start with what you know: Ask yourself, What do I do well, maybe better than anyone else? How can I take my strengths to the next level? How can I take my strengths into a new challenge or opportunity?

Make it your own: Ask yourself, What needs to happen for me to create my own personal brand of excellence? How can I be known for one or two important character traits?

Keep going: Ask yourself, What discourages me and makes me want to quit?—And how can I stay as far away from those people, places, or things? Who can I surround myself with who will push me to become the very best version of myself?


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