I just got back from spending a week in Austin at Austin City Limits Fest. Again, musicians were my subjects of observation. I keep choosing musicians because I find them the perfect examples for tricky-to-build businesses. The competition is is fierce and to be successful you have to observe all the steps that any successful business has to hit: your audience has to love you no matter how talented or skillful you are, you have to be your brand, you have to have a tremendous amount of grit and vision to build your career, and I am going to add another hugely important ingredient: above all, you have to have, live and exude JOY.
I saw a ton of great performances, highlights being Sons of Fathers, Shovels and Rope, Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, Reignwolf, Little Green Cars and Bright Light Social Hour. Many of these are hot and coming new acts and passion and joy are still palpable.
The big gap I noticed with two of the headliners: Depeche Mode and The Cure. I used to be a huge fan of both of these bands and was excited to see them. Depeche Mode rocked the field, inspiring spontaneous dance parties and sing-alongs. These guys looked great, put a ton of energy into their performance and were clearly enjoying themselves. Next day, The Cure. They sound the same, but that's all the good I can say. I felt like I was watching zombies. All my teenage images of The Cure crumbled and the completely joyless delivery inspired us to leave and find something more interesting.
What I took away from it was this: how well you do something is going to be hugely impacted by how much joy you have doing it. The basic outcome may be the same, but joy adds a whole other dimension that makes it or breaks it.
Where in your life do you experience unencumbered joy? Where in you does it live?
In my life, the place of limitless joy is skiing. Floating, flying through the turns, adventure, adrenaline, maybe starting with a plan but then dancing with the mountain and the conditions, having courage, letting go, making it by instinct and skill.
My skiing persona is the same person that shows up for your coaching calls: getting on a ride with you, starting with a plan and then dancing in the moment, noticing the conditions and challenging them, having courage, letting go, trusting my skills and my instincts. And always getting to the end of the run with new insights, exhilarated, with a sense of completion and a new plan.
Where does your joy live? And where will it take you?