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observing Courage

by | Dec 9, 2021 | Courage, Journey, observe

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It was 5 pm, and we were all lining up to go into the everyday “Evening Status Meeting” on the top floor of Pho IV, the newest building in our complex, and the heart of all of our work. I rarely left the building during the day, with breakfast, lunch, and dinner catered in so we didn’t take time away from the “work”. These meetings were twice a day – morning and evening – but the evenings were always brutal. As the “service” organization, the IT team was brought in nightly to be drawn and quartered by the SVP’s of the business, on “why haven’t you”…

… and by now we had observed that really no answers would suffice. It was better to simply say “Yes that is right. We suck, and we will try to do better by tomorrow”. What they hadn’t observed is that we rotated that assignment each night – one of us taking fire for the rest of us, while the rest of us could simply breathe for an hour. It was a system that worked like clockwork, and we all appreciated our partners for it, and that team became very close in the heat of battle. It was a nightly lesson in Courage and observing how rare it was, and also, how very few of the other teams had anything like it… or the camaraderie that we did…

After the Departure album comes Escape, where Journey leaves even the amazing orbit they have been in. It is their highest selling and most highly rated album, even more than their Greatest Hits. And comes after the Departure of Gregg Rolie. Having now been on the rocket ship that was touring the world consistently, and having been through that with Santana in his 20’s, he “…I left because I didn’t like my life anymore. I’ve said this a million times and I know there’s people that say, “That’s not the reason.” But I left because I was unhappy with what I was doing in my own life. I loved the management. I loved the music. I loved what we built. I just wasn’t happy, so I had to blow the horn on it and just stop it.”

We will meet his replacement tomorrow, but today’s song was a masterpiece of collaboration between the band members. It started with Steve getting the Chorus on a drive into Los Angeles captured on a mini-cassette recorder (remember – pre phones) and drove to the new keyboard player’s house. They were stuck but eventually got lyrics to match up with what was again a power ballad that sounded just like Steve’s constant muse – Sam Cooke. They got it put together, and played it for Neil to add his guitar wizardry to…

… and he stepped up and delivered an amazing experimental multi-harmonic lead riff that left nothing on the table. Think Michael J Fox in Back to the Future. Amazing!!! … and… blank stares back from the others. It is the classic “that’s nice” that then leads to – “Ok great, then let me do the opposite”. He played “the simplest thing that I could come up with off the top of my head”… and they loved that. Also notice that there are very few drums, and mostly just in the background. It has very simple harmonies, very sparse keys, and even sparser guitars and drums… a true “less is more” song. And – went to Number 4 immediately – their first to chart that high – but not their last…

… and at this point my son was asked to leave Syracuse. A crushing blow to him … and one that changed his and my story… for the better. Pain causes Change… and requires Courage. I was working with an Executive Coach at that point, and asked him for help for my son… which worked. I reached out to my network, which took some Courage, but one person stepped up, and the rest is literally a completely different career path for both of us. Now we can observe it without the tears of that season… a fairly recent shift.

observing my son really start to blossom, and the Courage it took to really embrace Change, I asked if I could also take the assessment that had helped him get on the new path – a role that matched his natural talents. Mine observed, not surprisingly, that my current role was what I would be least good at, and least rewarding. It also showed that working with people and leaders was something I was skilled at, and short of the ministry, was what I needed to focus on. That observation gave me the Courage to start taking the steps that you are now seeing…

… what will it take for you to make that shift? Is it Pain or Courage that will push you to dig deep enough to find that little voice we all have. Drowned out by others… their wishes and plans for us… or the money that we think will buy it for us… or the role that “changes the world” and when there, you realize is not at all what you observed it to be? Like Steve, we have bits and pieces on our micro-cassette – but we can’t quite work it all out. I have been honored to work with people who have taken these steps with me for the last 15 years, I can tell you it is… Simple – and not Easy. And starts with… Who’s Crying Now?

It’s been a mystery
But still they try to see
Why something good can hurt so bad
Caught on a one-way street
The taste of bittersweet
Love will survive somehow, somewhere
One love, feeds the fire
One heart, burns desire
I wonder who’s crying now?
Two hearts, born to run
Who’ll be the lonely one?
I wonder who’s crying now?
So many stormy nights
So many wrong or rights
Neither could change their headstrong ways
And in a lover’s rage
They turn another page
The fighting is worth the love they save
One love, feeds the fire
One heart, burns desire
I wonder who’s crying now?
Two hearts, born to run
Who’ll be the lonely one?
I wonder who’s crying now?
Only so many tears you can cry
‘Til the heartache is over
And now you can say your love
Will never die
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