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management Faith

by | Mar 30, 2021 | Faith, manage, U2

“Faith isn’t Faith until it is all you are holding onto”… read the bumper sticker that was on our refrigerator. Our little family was now in Northern Virginia in a house that we could barely afford, and had been slowly rebuilding/rehabbing it into our home. The kids were little, and as our parents did with both of us, we attended church regularly – not optional – and it had become a network of friendships and relationships that were vital to us as we were going through a turbulent season.  I am not sure who gave that sticker to us, but it managed to become vital… 

Paul Hewson was born in Dublin in May of 1960, the 2nd child of Iris and Bob Hewson, a multi-Faith couple that challenged those times.  They had agreed to raise their first child as an Anglican (Church of England) the Faith of Iris, and Paul would be raised Roman Catholic.  However, he was very close to his mother as a boy and joined his older brother and mother as they attended the Church of Ireland regularly.  I don’t know much about her Faith, but she did manage to get a foundation into Paul that would soon be tested. 

As he was turning 14, his grandfather would pass away, and at the funeral, his Mother would suffer a cerebral hemorage, and die only a few days later. Let that sink in – he lost his grandfather and his mother within a week – just as he was growing out of being a Boy. Oh and he was an Anglican in Dublin in 1974 – 2 years after Bloody Sunday, the peak of the Troubles in Northern Ireland only a few miles to the north.  

Normally we would not know what was going on in Paul’s head at this point, but he had recently also joined a surrealism street gang, Lypton Village,a virtual village in Ballymun (Dublin), a place of mental escape with its own laws, where creativity and eccentricity are electricity and all else is a power failure. Art, music and weirdness were good, everything else was bad.And to be in the village, you had to have a “gang name”.  Because Paul was loud and one of the most expressive, they gave him the latin phrase for Good Voice – Bonovox.  Which of course stuck when it was shortened only to the word for Good…

Adolescence is only easy for those who have forgotten how hard it really is, but navigating it without your mother, this close group of friends would be vital to manage his life from that point forward. Responding to the note only 2 years later, they were now a band, and on the precipice of greatness, sitting in a Dublin studio, trying to create their first album from the 40 songs they had been playing around the club scene with great enthusiasm, and slightly less talent. 

Bono was writing this song in the studio, a habit that followed Van Morrison model from a few miles north and 20 years before. During early rehearsals of the song, the group frequently had loud arguments, he was struggling to convey the aggression for the guitar riff that he was envisioning. Frustrated, he took the guitar and “hammer[ed] away” on the two-stringed chord he had created to show his bandmates the urgency he wanted. Bono said, “It was literally coming out of a kind of rage, the sound of a nail being hammered into your frontal lobe” He was trying to channel the feelings of a mother would have for their child, the unconditional love.

In my own story, I was managing multiple crises simultaneously, though none as big as Bono’s. My career had not really gone as expected and now I had moved the small family 4 times in 3 years, and was rewarded with a house that was like the band’s talent, a work in progress. I had witnessed the crashing to earth of IBM, jumping out just in time to land with a reasonable role at Fannie, which now had been morphed into being “sent” into a broken team to fix it… like my house… And being asked to manage it… with little more than Faith. Could they do it, could I do it, was it doable – were all very unclear… 

The song open’s their first album, complete with a glockenspiel, and the sound of silverware hammering away on an upturned bicycle’s wheels being spun – a trick that is an homage to Frank Zappa 😉 It mirrored my own work with this team, with a lot of moving parts, and names that were given out, and funny phrases that only we know the meaning of. I hope you have a team like that in your background, one that has provided you with not only your own management chops, but the Faith that comes with it.  If you don’t, this season – right now – would be a great time for you to consider what it means to understand the depth of these 3 words, announcing you too – U2 – I Will Follow. 

Picture of U2, the band
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