Cramming select lyrics into leadership and life lessons
NOTE: This was originally published here on January 20, 2016.
Over the summer, while moving out to California, my family and I even stopped off in Winslow, Arizona to see “Standin’ on a Corner Park.” Well worth the visit if it’s on your way.
The Eagles have played such an essential role in my life, and it pains me that the band is done. (Even if Henley rallied the surviving members, it wouldn’t be the same.) So I wanted to write about them by forcibly cramming select lyrics into leadership and life lessons because I can.
Take it Easy
I had a boss who would sometimes tell me to take a step back and assess whether or not a mistake was that big of a deal. Did anyone die? No? Then make it a teaching moment. Learn from your mistake (or allow someone else to learn), don’t make it again, and move on. Just take it easy.
Sometimes we get stuck on a problem — a tasking, a project, a problem soldier, a relentless OPTEMPO. Smart people often say that you can’t control what happens to you, only how you react to it. Don’t get too spun up on the externalities. In other words, don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.
Very much along those same lines, it’s up to you as a person and a leader to drop the woe-is-me attitude and make things happen. So oftentimes it happens that we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key. Not happy with your career or financial situation or love life or other aspect totally within your control to change? Do something about it!
Take it to the Limit
The best leaders have found a way to strike a balance between work and family life. Too often, leaders sacrifice that personal time to work because we saw our leaders do it growing up. Then our subordinates see us, and the vicious cycle continues. If the mold needs to be broken, do it by example.
You can spend all your time making money; you can spend all your love making time. But if it all fell to pieces tomorrow, would you still have a family to support you? (Apologies to Frey, Henley, and Randy Meisner for bastardizing that last line.)
The Long Run
Tough assignments, whole careers, relationships — they are marathons, not sprints. CCL KOW recently opened a discussion on burnout that’s a great topic of conversation. (I responded here with a look at burnout in support personnel.) The song is about a couple, but if you cherry pick the lyrics (like I’m shamelessly doing), you’ll see that “you can go the distance” and “we can handle some resistance.”
It’s a long run. Pace yourself.
Let’s first get past the obvious by saying that the Army is a team sport, not a place for “desperados.” The real message here is that when “some fine things have been laid upon your table,” don’t be that guy who “only wants the ones that you can’t get.” Show gratitude for what you have while simultaneously demanding excellence, but also know what work you have to put in to get that excellence.
- Hotel California — Only stay at DTS-approved lodging. (Also, cocaine’s a hell of a drug.)
- Lyin’ Eyes — Don’t cheat on your spouse. Your chain of command will find out!
- Heartache Tonight — “Everybody wants to touch somebody” is why we have quarterly SHARP training.
- Best of My Love — Drink good bourbon. Don’t be “wastin’ our time on cheap talk and wine.”
- Witchy Woman — A cautionary tale about picking up women at the strip club outside of the gate.
Views expressed are those of the individual only and not those of the US Army or the Department of Defense.