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Together… wondering..

by | Dec 17, 2021 | Ray Charles, Together, wonder

🖋 Arriving on a late afternoon flight to Mountain View, we had to save our energy for the return flight… in only 5 hours.  The Red Eye home was required to keep a meeting with a key customer that could not be moved.  And we wondered and worried about this meeting, mysteriously called with only 24 hours’ notice, mandatory, and with an attendee list that was not clear.  Luckily the business leader I was scheduled to meet in that customer meeting was on the flight out and back… so we would be in whatever this was together.  And that made all the difference…

A recent Washington Post interview of the CEO of Slack on the new structure of work after the pandemic wondered about a couple of key themes.  One of them was that effective communication is rarely taught or modeled in business.  Even less likely is to have meetings that were well run, accomplished clear objectives, and left the attendees with confidence.  Therefore, Together as we all looked around the room at the 26 VP’s there, we were wondering what was about to happen, worried that neither of those core competencies was likely to change for the better.

🎵 As I hope you are seeing this week, when Ray records these songs, they instantly become “his” songs.  Yes, there are other versions that may have preceded this on the C&W charts… but the versions you’ve heard after this album and its singles try to match Ray’s.  That is saying a lot about today’s track which was one of the key wonders of Country music.  Written and recorded by Ted Daffan and The Texans in 1940.  It was recorded by Bob Wills and Roy Acuff – here literally shown/played on a wind-up 78.  It became a country standard – AFTER – with George Jones.

This album was a wonder – mostly because, like many things, a lot of factors had to come together.  Yes, Ray did want to record a country album, but more importantly, he wanted to test his new record label.  How would they work with him, and respond to his requests?  He had bargained hard for “… full artistic freedom” to be an actual clause in his contract.  Would they support it, and how would he know, without constantly worrying?  It would be interesting to know if they would have stuck with that stance if the record hadn’t, well… completely changed music 😉 

🖋 If you are a frequent reader you have heard about this season, and I might as well help you stop wondering and give you the code name.  Not to be shy, it was labeled Project One – “the most important thing we were going to be focusing on”… we were told… right after we signed binding Non-Disclosure Agreements.  And now ‘read in’ as it is called, we could tell no one why suddenly our calendars might have some spots on them that are not labeled.  Or late-night meetings that no one would actually know about except our families.  No – nothing to see here – nothing to cause people to wonder about…

… and a gentle reminder that I had just come from one of these that had started on a more negative stance, but this was quickly looking very similar.  And my intention of “staying after” with a team that I had helped build, and the other things I loved about the role, looked to be highly unlikely now.  The “good news” was that because of the way I entered with The First 90 Days, I knew most of these key VP’s, and the ones that I had to work with directly I considered ourselves friends.  And those that I didn’t know, because I had completely retooled before coming, my reputation was one of being a consensus builder and someone that would be easy to collaborate with.  Stop laughing… really. 

That will come back to haunt me shortly, but for now, in this conference room, hearing people talk about Scorecards, Cascading Goals, building Teams – these were things that I had invested in, and had started to take hold in less than a year.  Now, could I leverage this standing not just for me, but for all of us to pull together in a way that would in fact come up with One business, and succeed?  I wondered if these circumstances would pull me back into my previous “problem” focused mindset…

And with great partners, and some clear boundaries of my own, that did not happen.  The very amorphous “requirements” for what we were to “do” were slowly recast into what we should be doing, and also, making others think it was in fact their idea to do these new things.  The business leader I flew the Red-Eye with was even more respected than my partner and I in engineering – a typical pecking order which I had also learned to not wonder about, but simply leverage.  If he said it, and we also did it with them, suddenly things would move in that direction.  Not being in the center of that was fine with me, having survived being in the middle of the shooting gallery in the previous role.  This was just fine – supporting and delivering out of the spotlight.

As I write about often, wonder is hard to preserve when you are in the critical phase of projects.  I would say it differently.  It is even MORE important to preserve it, actually, CRITICAL to the success of any project to not let the pace take away wonder.  The time to think, to get away from what you are being told to do, often by people who have no idea themselves.  It is hard for people who are in their 30’s to realize – and the ones that get it fastest are the ones who can actually help the most.  Not disrespectfully, but taking back control –  acting in the direction that they believe themselves would work.  That is the key to not having a perpetually Worried Mind.

You promised me love
That would never die
That promise you made
Was only a lie
Now after you’ve gone
All alone I’ve pined
For all that I’ve got
Is a worried mind
And when I was down
You just left me there
I needed you so
But you didn’t care
You found a new love
And a home so fine
But all that I’ve got
Is a worried mind (a worried mind)

 

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