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managing Happiness

by | Mar 23, 2021 | Happiness, manage, Van Morrison

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Like many things I start, they go well… until some odd unintended consequence pops up, usually just as I am figuring that out.  When someone asked me to describe “What is Coaching?” being visual, I start with my Thumb (counseling), Pinky (Consulting), Pointer (life coaching), Ring (Mentoring), leaving Executive Coaching … as the middle finger.  Seems about right for what I do 😉  Like today’s pairing of management with Happiness… and if you have been the former, you certainly have stories of how you have prevented the latter…  

Depending on your age, it may not even be important to consider what Happiness is in the first place.  At best, my parent’s generation would delay that until “retirement” – some milestone way out there in the future.  Their parents were the ones that seriously asked me “what is the purpose of this backpacking trip?”  My kids have started to show me that perhaps working in some fun along the way is worth considering, and I wonder what their kids will think of working in the first place.  And now if you are managing, you have most of those generations to motivate, lead, and gather into teams… 

A theme that runs through from last week into this week is Van’s issues with management.  This song and album were also composed and written mostly in upstate New York, and then recorded on the east coast.  Exactly when is a bit up in the air, but today’s song was definitely written even before most of Astral Weeks, and recorded multiple times.  He had contracts that were continuing to cause him issues, including a clause in one that would have given his publisher 50% of the income from songs published between 1968 and 1970. 

Knowing he had a bouncy, upbeat song that could be a single, he held onto it.  Interestingly, Warner Brothers wanted something to follow up on the success of Moondance, and Van had this “in the can”.  He did rerecord it, but the exact version that we hear here we don’t know how it was managed.  We do know that once released in late 1970, this song was the biggest hit he would ever have – more than all of the hits last week, and even Moondance.  It was also my first musical investment – played on a jukebox in early 1971 when I was in the 7th grade in Florida 😉 

That is the good news… the bad news is that again, management messed with Van’s vision, and therefore his Happiness.  Originally he wanted to have an acapella group – a choir of his choosing of great voices from near Woodstock, with a title of Virgo’s Fool.  Early recordings were made in an old church there, and the sounds and set up were then duplicated in the studio.  “management” wanted to have more musical accompaniment, and at least let him use the same musicians from Moondance, and thus have a very similar soundscape.  They also renamed the album, and released it… again without his consent. 

So what is the role of management?  In this case, the resulting album was very well received, and this particular song was extremely successful… shouldn’t Van be Happy?  Their insights worked… or did they?  A phrase that is worth remembering “Success has many fathers, Failure is an orphan”.  NOW we see this as good, but I can provide many examples of well-meaning “management” not having quite the outcomes to be celebrated… and those are simply my own examples 😉 

We know what management is… or think we do.  Something that I don’t think many consider is what is Happiness?  When I was an executive, I had many people say “I want to be like you”… and when I finished explaining what that actually meant, their puzzled look conveyed they thought I was lying.  I wasn’t… and I was good at being an executive until I realized I wasn’t interested in the next rung up.  You may be, or not, but either way, before you get too far, consider what you are heading for… or your career may start cascading in a direction that may be more… like a Domino. 


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