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Different wonders

by | Mar 19, 2021 | Differences, Van Morrison, wonder

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After listening, the hardest thing I work with leaders on is unlearning what they know.  That may seem counterintuitive, but honestly, they don’t know it.  Their brains have made it up… based on facts that it has chosen to observe, and ignoring those that it really doesn’t want to notice.  The fancy name for it is the Ladder of Inference, but Paul Simon says it clearer “Still, a man hears what he wants to hear.. and disregards the rest”.  When you really understand the depth and breadth of this deception, it is really any wonder we know anything… 

Success had been tasted, but also had left some residue for Van to wonder about and resolve.  Now in New York, he was influenced by Bert who helped Here Comes the Night and Gloria become hits to sign a contract that he didn’t read.  He had a few songs collected and was persuaded to go into the A&R studio to record “4 singles” – which is typically 4 ‘good’ songs, and 4 that are the B sides.  Now admittedly his B sides were great, but these were all recorded in only 2 days in March of 1967, and he really didn’t think much more about it… 

… until he was called to let him know his first solo album was being released, including cover art that was highly psychedelic, and titled Blowin’ Your Mind.  Van had never been a drug user, and was adamantly opposed to the release of the album, but the contract was clear that all control had been given completely to Bert, and as such the album came out.  Even after Bert’s death later that year, the contract was in dispute which included a ban on performing without Bang Records approval… and Van was forced to move to Boston. 

He struggled, but eventually was able to work out of the contract and land at Warner Brothers after, I kid you not, a $20,000 drop of cash in a warehouse on Ninth Avenue…and the commitment for 36 more songs.  Van recorded them – on an out-of-tune guitar, with lyrics about Ringworms and sandwiches.  They are known now as the “revenge recordings” and only saw the light of day in a 2017 release by Bang 😉  And… the wonder is that the time in Boston allowed him to work on one of the greatest albums ever… but I am again ahead of the story… 

Like Van and his contract, your brain literally sees what it wants to see… even if that is not real.  It constructs facts that match what it has seen before… unless you can slow it down and wonder what you are missing… what is not seen, or heard, or inferred.  And it is particularly perilous as you ascend into leadership – where the common idea is you are paid for what you … know.  And often that can work… until it doesn’t.  And then you need to have either the ability to wonder yourself what you are missing, or have people around you that see it… Differently. 

Those people blow your mind, saving you from decisions that the “facts’ in your head may support, but are actually wonders of your imagination.  Differences in perspective that you need to either develop in yourself, or in those around you, so that your decisions are based on an integrated view.  Differences that will challenge you, will even raise your anger, but can… in fact… slow down that supercomputer on your shoulders … to actually make better decisions.  They are around you, and, like the hit that started a career that we still celebrate in spite of the contract, may come from a Brown Eyed Girl.

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