So what the heck is a Change Agent anyway? I didn’t see that career path in the College Catalog, but there are sure a lot of people out there with that title on their business cards. You’ve seen them, I am sure – in conference rooms, and in my generation, nice looking suits/pantsuits, expensive briefcases, and a stack of forms and “best practices” that they are bringing to your neighborhood to “help” you. And they always have an execution plan – timelines, milestones, and something called “deliverables” that they are going to “help” you develop. Yeah – like I actually have time to execute anything else… other than them 😉
And full disclosure, I was a Change Agent for most of my life… I just didn’t realize it. Looking over something – well anything – I could point out about 100 things that could be done “better”. It might have been cute when I was 5, and helpful through my 20’s as others leveraged the “often wrong never in doubt” to serve their agenda, but into my 30’s I realize that this was probably not a scalable way to put a career path together. And by my 40’s, I had for sure burned way more bridges than I had built… but luckily, enough remained to get on a better path before someone executed me. And a shout out to my executive coach who placed the 2×4 right between my eyes… Continuously.
Steve Perry didn’t really come into Journey with any of that. In fact, recall the first thing he did was sing an EXISTING song, and simply bring his own style to it. From there, he worked to build relationships with all of the current members. In today’s track, you hear the handoff of the vocals from Greg Rolie who starts the song with the “old” Journey vocal approach, followed by Steve musically taking it up a level (and an octave-ish), and then, they blend together with the rest of the band to start to form the unique harmony that became their signature. Many fans of Journey think this first album is the best – the hard-rocking drums of Anysley and electric firepower of Neil with the soaring vocals that Steve can put over it.
One of the joys of this blog is actually listening to each of these albums from start to finish – hearing nuanced, or sometimes big changes from song to song, album to album, season to season. And speaking of Continuous, think about the way music has changed just in our lifetime. From mono singles to collections that fit together (thanks Frank Sinatra), to stereo, to LP’s, to 45’s, 8-track, cassettes, CD’s, now streaming MP3 to streaming lossless. And yes, there are some groups that I own ALL of those for – just look at my office 😉 And some of that Change I don’t think has been for the better – like losing album art, or losing the idea of a “concept” album where the songs thoughtfully go together to tell a story. In some ways, we are regressing back to the 30s, where only individual songs are heard and no context is shared…
… post 2×4 (recall my executive coach from above), as I came to my senses, I realized that even my basic stance was wrong. “Large and In Charge” is translated in corporate settings to “Easy Target”. Insights and vision are really helpful… and to execute them, you have to survive, and that means fitting in first. The First 90 Days has grounded research that proves this, and I have given away 1000’s of copies hoping others can learn that lesson in their 20’s (and without the wood to the head). Aligning first with your Boss, and then your Peers, and then the rest of your organization requires a lot of listening and not as much talking. While I can do it now, it took a LOT of Continuous practice to Change my bad habits.
Equally important is to not overcorrect. When the suits and briefcases show up, many will slow down or stop executing on their plan – thinking that “we need to wait and see what they want us to do” – thereby becoming another easy target for executing. Having been involved with a LOT of turnarounds, those that stop and wait are actually the first to go – even more than the Large and In Charge crew. I would look for the folks who 1) had a plan, 2) knew WHY it would be good, 3) had a team moving towards that goal, and 4) really didn’t have time to talk to me. Perfect. Rock on Garth… I will be back soon but until you hear back, just keep going. I have other problems to execute…
… and this is WAY harder than it looks on both sides and gets at the topic I will be writing about next week – Fear, or better said: being Afraid. It is the evil “secret sauce” of the narcissists that have invaded many of the leadership roles… but that is next week 😉 For today, the focus should be on Continuous execution… of your plan, of your approach, with your team. Not in a Large and In Charge way – but the calm confidence that you see in the quieter teams … that frankly you never notice. They are simply executing, and Changing even when you may not know it. Adapting, and understanding that it is staying focused on executing the future that produces the best results, and as these harmonies demonstrate you are Feeling That Way.
Opened my eyes to a new kind of way
All the good times that you saved
Are you feeling
You feeling that way too
Or am I just
Am I just a fool
When the summer’s gone, she’ll be there
Standing by the light
What she’s been through where she’s been to
She should know wrong from right
Is she feeling
Are you feeling?
You feeling that way too