By Leslie Lynn Smith, president and CEO, TechTown Detroit
Life lessons are all around us and, if we pay attention, they will guide the way. This morning, I’m struck by the entrepreneurial philosophies exhibited by Lyle Lovett during his highly entertaining concert at the Michigan Theater on Saturday, Aug. 9.
Do what you love.
When you choose to follow a path of work that sings to your spirit, the joy you create will not only make you happy, but everyone around you. Too often we’re driven to careers that are practical or safe. We think doing things we love is reserved to when we’re not at work. However, when we spend our time doing work that brings us deep and abiding satisfaction, we will do it longer and better. The lines between work and play will blur, and the life we build will be the best one we can imagine.
I’m certain that Lovett had folks in his life that suggested he put his German and Journalism degree from Texas A&M University to use in a mainstream career. With credentials like that, he could have easily taught high school German classes, engaged in international business or written for a major newspaper or magazine. Music could have been a hobby. I’m sure those same people told him how hard it was to make it in the music industry – the competition is intense.
But, he didn’t take the safe road. He followed the path laced with limitless potential and joy. And, it worked. When you watch him perform, you are certain that many years ago he charted a course for his life and launched into that journey with confidence and conviction. I’m also positive it wasn’t always easy, but it worked. The joy that emanates from him during a performance is undeniable and contagious.
Surround yourself with the best talent and honor the contribution they make.
The most important resources in your life are the folks you choose to surround yourself. Your network of family, friends, colleagues, peers and partners has an extraordinary impact on your ability to achieve your goals. These people will do the things you cannot, pick you up when you fall, celebrate with you when you soar and make the entire experience richer. Choose them wisely, honor them deeply and celebrate them fully.
Lovett’s large band is filled with extraordinary musicians. Their talents bring a complete experience together, which is sold under the Lyle Lovett brand. He could easily consume the spotlight and absorb the accolades for having brought them together and arranged them on one stage to make musical magic. Of course, they would be paid for their services, but otherwise only observed as undefined elements of a singular large experience.
However, that’s not what happens. Instead, each and every musician is given an opportunity to individually shine. Light and attention are splashed upon them while Lovett fades into the background, honoring their talent and contributions. Rather than being concerned about seeming small in their presence, he is concerned about making sure they appear appropriately big. On that stage, no one was more or less important than anyone else.
That is the definition of team.
Exhibit humility and grace.
Each of us possesses a unique set of talents, passions and skills. We are at our best when we are able to employ them at our full potential to develop relationships, build a career, forge a life. Watching Lyle Lovett perform reminded me about the importance of expressing those talents with a measure of humility and grace.
While we thrive, others may be struggling. As we soar, others may be falling around us. Our joy can be shared most effectively when we recognize our gifts and fully share them with others, with genuine appreciation for the mutual happiness discovered as we share with another those talents with which we been so richly blessed.