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renewing your Values

by | Mar 14, 2021 | renew, Values, Weather Report

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Of all of the Values that most teams and leaders list, renewal is rarely on the list.  Particularly the leaders who really “care” and talk about “servant leadership” and are those people you want to follow. They find it very hard to carve out time for the most important resource – themselves.  As I start working with leaders, I realize that most of my real value is forcing them to spend an hour or so on… themselves.  Sure I can bring some Value with my clever questions, listening, some observations, even some much-requested “advice”… but realistically… just getting them to focus on themselves is what I am paid to do now…

… eventually, they will start to carve out more time for themselves – realizing that their own Value is critical to everyone.  It starts with little pieces of their day – when are they at their best… and giving that time to … themselves.  Time for thinking, writing, resting, exercising – whatever it takes to renew them for the tasks ahead.  It shows up in micro-breaks between meetings – stepping outside for a quick walk, taking that next meeting as you walk along, breathing and meditating for a moment… nothing big… other than the impact.

After Heavy Weather, the band and the members were international superstars – rare for Jazz, but the world tours exposed the rest of the world to the changing face of music, and there are many bands particularly in Europe and Japan that patterned themself after experiencing their amazing shows.  And as with other bands, some of the members went out on their own, realizing that their “brand” was at its peak.

Primary among them was Jaco.  I left out his introduction to Zawinul – he literally went to a Weather Report concert, and went backstage and introduced himself “Hi, I am the best bass player in the world.”  And his audition tape proved it.  Now a huge star, he released a solo album that was another huge hit.  The upward arc of his career led him to the classic “Behind the Band” meltdown.  He was a terrible drunk, and literally picked a fight in a bar in Miami, was beaten to a pulp, and died.  No easy way to end that sentence – at 35, the master of the emerging electric bass… not around to see it.

Shorter and Zawinul would stay together and were one album short of completing the Weather Report deal.  As before, new younger players came in with new energy and ideas, and they stimulated Joe to really dig deeper into his own writing.  For the first time, he wrote lyrics for a song – but the words were actually just “sounds” – he arranged them into sentences, but he was really wanting the voices to sound like any other instrument – convey only tones.  He hired the Manhattan Transfer who had made Birdland a Grammy winner, and their singers said it was the hardest recording they ever did…

(Author’s note – my editors hate that I write like Zawinul with lots of … and ____.  The sound… and rhythm … and delivery of the words … actually have a Value … to me at least… often more than their meaning.)

I am actively working with a number of leaders in many different worlds – non-profit, religious, software development, Product Management, Professional Services… and in very different levels of their own career arcs.  And I have been gently reminding them of the importance of knowing their own Values… and most importantly, the one that is overlooked most often – renewal.  After a year at red-line, I am starting to see many people realize that if they don’t take care of themselves, they really can’t lead anyone, most of all, themselves.

If you listen to this song carefully, in the left channel is a very odd sound.  Zawinul had a very specific tone he wanted the drums to carry throughout the whole song – like hand-clapping but not.  Sitting at his kitchen table, the percussionist Omar Hakim started hitting everything around him, until he finally went in the backyard and hit the garbage can.  Perfect.  Joe Z. took the lid, drilled a hole in the top, and that is what you hear him hitting – and they even toured with it on stage…

… but the real story is… “I’ve been through a few since then.  They bend up and then they are dead.  The ‘trash’ goes away”.  Even Weather Report needed renewal – for the garbage can lid.  If they can take time for that, what will help you take time this week, this month, this year for your own renewal?  It is Valuable … as Where the Moon Goes.

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