Happy Birthday John Lennon – How to make your business (and life) bold and purpose driven
‘Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn’ – Gore Vidal.
Many of us have heard John Lennon sing or speak. You are immediately struck by his aliveness and boldness in expressing himself (think ‘Twist and Shout’ – ‘I did not sing that song, I screamed it’). By the age of 24, he and the Beatles had begun to conquer the world of pop music – 2 years later, that conquest was complete.
If you were a 14 year old like me in 1977, you would have wished to be like him – bold, imaginative and truthful.
And yet the following are some of what we hear from people in their private and honest moments:
- “I feel my results are stagnant and that something is missing – I don’t know what”
- “I am not passionate about my business or life anymore”
- “I feel like I am only cruising by in my business and life”
- “The thought of doing what I think I have to do in my business makes me cringe”
With more people promoting themselves on the internet; with younger and supposedly better options and people starting something cooler and better every week; with seminars and quick fixes promising quick sex, healthy breakthroughs and turn-arounds and profits, life and business can be very perplexing and confusing.
We tend to forget or sideline our truths and values at times in favor of the quick fix.
Today being John Lennon’s birthday, I think we can take a few lessons from his life. Mr. Lennon was not perfect but he had the following attributes which we could use to find our own direction and purpose:
More oxygen on a vision of the future rather than on the past
John was the one who founded the group and led the group with the vision of going to the ‘Toppermost of the Poppermost’. That phrase was the rallying cry even in the midst of failures and disappointments in the early years.
John had experienced the death of his mother and best friend by the age of 22; although both those deaths haunted him, he kept focusing on the enthusiasm of the future; being the best pop group ever.
A deep and profound respect for the artistic sensibilities
John always rebelled against and struggled with the commercial side of the musical business; but in the end, he stayed true to the music and created some of the best lyrics ever written.
How many times do we stray from our beliefs and values in our own life or business?
A commitment to total self-expression versus being embroiled in guilt and ‘doing only the right thing’
The other Beatles always found John’s unabashed expressions troubling, but in the end – he left behind a legacy of standing up for what he believed in and then actually doing something about it. His stand for ending the war in Vietnam made him a sworn enemy of the Nixon administration – they made his stay in New York in the 1970s very difficult.
Irreverent Humor and a Lack of Significance – with an understanding of irony
John’s comments at press conferences were legendary (“As far as I am concerned, you are all peasants”). People mistook his comments as mean and he did seem to have a mean streak; but he did bring a sense of humor and ‘getting on with life’ in his comments.
When he obtained his legal status in the US, he was asked how he felt about the Nixon administration thwarting his previous efforts – he replied saying “Time wounds all heels”. A play on words but filled with irony.
Introspection vs Inauthenticity – staying grounded
Even during the peak of Beatlemania, he kept his sanity. “The more insane they get, the more sane we get” John said to Muhammad Ali in 1964.
The Beatles were a hard working band. When they started in Hamburg, they played several hours of sets. They only had about 10 minutes of material when they first landed, but they took on learning new songs from the other bands and becoming exceptionally good at it. John had sung Twist and Shout hundreds of times by the time the Beatles recorded that song – it was done in two takes.
In the end, the late and great Gore Vidal said it best; “John Lennon represented Life and Mr. Nixon represented Death”.
My point in this article is not that we have to over simplify and follow John Lennon blindly. My point is that we can take some lessons from his life and apply them mindfully to our own life – in our own way and in our own style.
That would be a great way to celebrate John Lennon’s birthday.
If you enjoyed this article and wish to read more articles like this be sure to go to Sunil’s blog at http://cahayamind.com/blog/