Tips and stories to add value to you and your organisation
Messages. Souvenir. Enola Gay. Classic song titles. Do you recognise them? They were all hits for OMD, who’s rather longer, full name is the imaginative Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.
I guess if you can be creative enough to come up with a name like that, then you’re probably going to be creative enough to have a career in pop music, write a few hits along the way and have fun in doing it.
The band has been together, on and off, for 40 years. Amazing to think of anyone being in the same job these days for such a long period of time and the two halves of OMD, Paul Humphreys and Andy McCluskey, do seem to get on well.
Well, that was my impression when I saw them play live a couple of weeks ago. They exuded a level of energy that any 20-something band would be proud of and they engaged the audience and built a rapport with us all smoothly and good naturedly. Andy McCluskey kept referring to his ‘bad bass playing’ which was endearing, rather than being faux modesty. He is not the worlds greatest bass player and yet there aren’t many people starting out in a band today who will still be plugging away in 40 years time.
Touring and gigging must be relentlessly punishing. Any consultant who travels widely for work is doing the same kind of thing. It all consists of travel, hotels and delivery. Not much time to savour the sights, a constant stream of equipment checks and preparation and no time for your own life to intrude. Bad days are not allowed. You have to turn up and perform and then pack up and hurry onto the next gig, or next client.
Billy Connolly said once, in a documentary; ‘You can’t let your life intrude. These people have paid £30 to see you and booked a babysitter and it’s the highlight of their week. You have to put everything behind you and go onstage and deliver. It doesn’t matter if the dog has died. You have to respect your audience and go out and make them laugh.’
We have to go out there and deliver. It’s the same for a consultant with a fixed deadline, or a workshop trainer, or a sales person. Whatever is happening in our lives we have to turn up on the day, hit the mark and complete the contract.
In football parlance, we have to leave it all on the field.
OMD could have soft-pedalled, sung a few hits in a quiet way and then left the stage to polite applause. They didn’t. They came out with a ‘we’re here to entertain you’ attitude and they left it all on stage. Not bad for a band formed in 1978 on the Wirral.
It made me think that business is all about leaving it on the stage. If we allow ourselves to have bad days, let life get in the way and to stop finding the joy in our work then business will suffer. We don’t have to be the best bass player in the world to succeed, we just have to keep putting the energy in and keep delivering to a high standard.
Next week: Sausage Service
I love words. I’ve always loved words. I teach a lot of communication skills and I’m always amazed at how the smallest words can have the biggest impact. Great communication skills don’t need to rest on complicated models, instead we can all have fun with small words. Here are some of my favourites:
The reason why these are such jolly helpful little helpers is because we can do so much with them. Oh no you can’t!
Oh yes you can! (Panto mode over now). And if we write these words down on a piece of paper and use them, we will tend to find that conversations are more hopeful, joyful and productive.
‘What’ is an interesting word, because when we ask ‘what questions’ we invite people to think, which means they tend to give us much better answers.
In contrast, ‘why’ isn’t so useful, because it can hook us back to an early childhood experience of being asked a difficult question that we couldn’t answer. Where why closes us down, what opens us up. That’s a lovely chewy sentence, I love words!
And if we ask questions in a friendly way, and if we persist, then we are more likely to have our questions answered.
If you want to have fun and push people a bit harder you can really use the word really.
What would you really like for your birthday?
Are you really going to eat those carrots?
Is she really going out with him?
This last question was of course famously sung by Joe Jackson, who thought it would make a better lyric than the question above about carrots.
These useful little words are the salt and vinegar on our fish and chips. We don’t have to use them and if we do our linguistic culinary experience becomes much more interesting!
This week have fun using little words.
Next week: OMD!
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