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… the Guts to manage…

by | Oct 20, 2020 | Guts, manage, Van Halen

We were losing the game.  It was the final of the All-Star Tournament, and as such it was a blend of players from multiple teams. It was the age (U-16) when individual stars could be overcome by great teamwork, which is how we had gotten into the Finals.  And yet, we were losing, and there were only 3 minutes to play.  One of the players I didn’t know was a fantastic goal-keeper – AND a great striker.  We could keep the ball in their end, but just couldn’t put it in.  So – I yelled to the Keeper “Go play striker”.  He looked at me as any 15 year old would … and said “Now??”… Yes.. RIGHT NOW!!!… he asked again at midfield, when I yelled NOW!!

In my world, there is a quote “Managers Do Things Right, and Leaders Do the Right Thing.” As if you can pick which, and that one is more important than the other.  And like most bumper stickers and books on management, it is mostly crap. It takes Guts to do either, and you really have to master both.  We teach our MBA students that Leadership is a Contact Sport – another bumper sticker I realize, but all the theory (as with warfare) goes out the window with your first contact.  I am working with some senior leaders who are realizing that by the time they get answers from above, it is likely that they are not really needed. You have to know what needs to be done, and then have the Guts to actually do it. And it why the greatest leadership is born out of what we are all in now… a crisis… 

Ed realized his brother was getting good on his drum set, and saved up $110 (about $800 imagine how many papers that was) to buy a 1965 Teisco Del Ray – from Sears.  It was a 4 pickup copy of an Ibanez but he couldn’t buy an amplifier at first so he simply played it on the dining room table – the resonance made it slightly easier to hear.  A cousin gave him a converted Radio Shack Radio that allowed him to plug in the guitar, and he started playing the “hit song” of the day – Easy Rider’s Blues Theme.  He couldn’t figure out how they got the sound… until he cranked the amp up all the way… and realized ” Ahhhh OK.  Just turn it all the way up!”… which he did, and shortly blew the Guts out of his first amp. It would not be the last time… 

…he progressed to buy every guitar players dream, a Marshall amplifier.  Built by Jim Marshall in the UK, a clone of the Fender amps of the era, they sounded so much better.  He kept blowing it up, and luckily by this point his Dad was working at Burroughs as a janitor, but his friends were electrical engineers. “So my Dad comes home with this rectifier thing and I was asking, “Where does this go?” One of his buddies told him, “Just look for a dial or a sliding thing.”So, I found what I now believe was the bias adjustment, and this was a rectifier. It had four soldering points on it, and I didn’t know which ones to use. And there were only two soldering points in the amp, so I just soldered two of the ends of it, plugged the amp in and it worked!”  I should add that working on a tube amplifier there are capacitors that hold enough power to kill you if you get across them…. 

… even I hadn’t calculated that having a brightly colored guy running randomly through the mid field, and me yelling, distracted the other team JUST enough that we put it in the back of the net, tieing the score.  We forced overtime, and the keeper also made a save during PK’s so we won… but really it was the momentum of the shift that no one saw coming that turned the game.  And it was a total crapshoot. It could just have easily gone the other way… but like Ed, I was lucky.  The dilemma of picking music from SUCH a great catalog is should I try and do it in order.  Today’s comes from a later record, but fits perfectly for managing with Guts.  It is having the ability or stupidity to actually try something… not think about it too much, not to talk about it.  As you engage your week, what is that you need to simply try? Do it.  Right Now. 

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