The doctor came in for the 2nd time in as many hours. “How are you feeling Jeff?” “Well, I haven’ t felt the urge to dry heave in over an hour Doctor, thanks for asking.” “ I can’t allow you to be discharged until you can keep something down”, she said. “Do you feel up to a little juice?” “Yes please.” I was at Memorial Hospital in Hollywood, Florida. Ironically, tomorrow I’ll be there again at their conference center for TEDx rehearsal. A more “fun” visit. But, for today’s visit, I had made a grand entrance by hobbling into the ER doubled-over, with a bucket in my hand just in case, and promptly lay down on the floor blocking the entrance as effectively as I could. “Sir, your drivers license please”
A few minutes later in my “room”, Alex, a tall… very cool RN/dude who was my primary ER caretaker, came by with a tiny Apple Juice, and a matching container of Apple Sauce. ( I don’t like apple sauce, but oh well.)
An hour or so earlier, Alex had done a fairly good job of inserting the needle to insert anti-nausea medicine, and then a bag of fluids. (I’ve had better, but I’ve had worse as well.) I was quite in need of these mind you, as I had been throwing up since 2am and was parched and exhausted. Alex was both friendly and efficient..at the same time.
A bit earlier than that even, Zetta my admittance counselor from up front, had come back to see me and ask a few contact questions. Then we talked about her upcoming vacation to the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. We had a great talk, and it was so nice to get to know her a little bit. She exuded positive vibes. I needed that smile almost as I needed those fluids.
As I lay in that hospital bed for hours, surrounded with the hustle and pain, the fear and coughing, I became truly aware of all the sounds and smells that permeate the atmosphere in an emergency room. There are people here in much worse shape then I, I told myself. The ER team made me feel cared for. That was a relief. When I facilitate our music team building programs in Florida, Nashville or anywhere for that matter… before I step on stage, I always try to channel a positive experience I’ve personally had with a team somewhere in my past. At a restaurant, a doctors office, a non-profit…
Every time a team works well together, it becomes more than the sum of the individual parts. It becomes the strength and potential of “the collective.” A force that can bend rivers, build dams, and change cultures. That potential, is awesome. So, before speaking at TEDx this weekend, (www.Tedxyoungcirclepark.org) I want to say thank you to the team at Memorial Hospital for healing me. You have a very tough job, and experiencing your drive help, your collaborative spirit, and your smiles was inspiring. I hope that I don’t see you again for a long, long time! Now, let the music carry you forward.
How are these seemingly different worlds all connected? Culinary, designing buildings, creating great songs…working as an effective team mate or “co-idea generator?” I’ve been toying with the idea for some time, and in browsing through an interior design magazine at the book store the other day (looking at kitchen design of course) it came to me. Teamwork is such a cliche, but think of how a team in the fast-paced, high pressure kitchen of a 5-start restaurant work together on their products and services. Think of the teamwork involved of building the brand new, World Trade Center on that tragically, historic spot. Think of the fact that the average number of writers to collaborate on a #1 Pop song today is 4. That’s a lot of teamwork! So cliche? I don’t know, but I like my eggs well done, scrambled with cheese…any kind of cheese.
1. Opportunity to be influenced by a different process
Each songwriter has their own natural songwriting process. Sometimes these processes work very well, but other times there is much room for improvement. One writer can get stuck “inside their own head or vision too easily.” Co-writing is a great opportunity for you to improve upon your own process by seeing how another approaches the same song – what works and what doesn’t work – and to adopt some new writing techniques. This same benefit exists in any organizational or workplace environment. Being influenced by a new process and/or new ideas often leads to creation of new creative solutions. Try it today, take your ad campaign concept, architectural design, new recipe for your food truck and throw them out to the team. See if they improve upon your “masterpiece” through constructive collaboration. Now, what if your work in progress seems stuck? Well…….
2. One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure
Songwriters who have been at their craft awhile have songs they either dislike or can’t finish that a songwriting partner may see something in, therefore turning a potentially “lost idea” into something unique and special. You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours. Every voice at the table has something unique to offer, providing we truly have open forums. Your “throw away song” could be a hit tomorrow, and your “lost idea/invention/service or product development project” could be the next i-phone or Post-it notes…IF you open up your doors and let someone else in to help shine the light on your creation, look underneath the hood and help you to turn coal into a diamond. Maybe this process will help you adjust the way you work or view your own methods and…..
3. Open new doors to try new things and create new sounds
Just like your own process, every songwriter develops their own style and sound. Working with another songwriter can help you to see things in a different light, and to possibly try new things that you may not have otherwise even thought of, helping you to achieve a new, different sound. OR, it may teach you (if you are open to learning) a new way to achieve the desired result. Hit song, new smart-phone app. Etc..etc…
4. Critiques are more effective
An important part of the songwriting process is to critique your work, to find out what may be helping the song to strive, or what may be holding it back from succeeding, and to tweak it’s structure for the better. Doing this yourself is important, but working with a co-writer offers you the opportunity to put a new set of eyes on the song and to actively and openly discuss all parts of the song. Again, this may lead to seeing things differently and help you to open new doors to tweak your song (or not tweak your song) for the better. So, if you’ve come this far, please remember, you stand to gain nothing at this part of the game by saying you’re open to critique, but not actually listening to feedback from the other truly with an open heart and ears.
5. It can be fun, helping your creativity to flow!
While some songwriters prefer to do it themselves because their songs may be deeply personal and/ or introspective, there is no doubt that a collaborative effort can be fun and exciting. Working with another offers the opportunity to piggy-back off each other’s excitement and energy which will show in the music. The same can be said for grabbing a white-board, some markers and a designated time for brainstorming each day within the confines of your own field/business. Or for that matter at home! What if while working together in the kitchen on a Sunday morning, you and your better half in this casual setting… brought up one “problem” and focused together on the solution. What would that look like? Could you have fun with it? Could the ebb and flow of the cooking and clearing process jog your creative juices? Come on, brewing the coffee, scrambling the eggs….seems perfect environment of “Getting things done” in a non-threatening setting to achieve one solution to at least “Try” for the week ahead right!
Okay, go make it happen. Create one solution this week, improve on one idea or product/service, open your ears to the others around you. You’ll be amazed at what happens.
It occurred to me while Sherrie, Michael and myself were working with Delta Air Lines up in “Cincy”, that we were witnessing first-hand… a true, team building Nashville style experience, in real time. It was a bit odd actually, though not in a bad way. I mean, it’s not as if we haven’t seen this many times before while facilitating a songwriting/team building program. That’s what we do. But in this case, there was so much give and take, a fast-paced, honest, transparent and ever evolving collaborative process going on in this beautiful,old library ball room. We even had to vote once or twice on using one word vs. another in certain lines of our collective song.
The back and forth brainstorming was unfolding on stage between Michael, Sherrie and myself for certain(though in my exuberance at how supremely involved the Delta Cincinnati team was, I couldn’t keep myself out of the audience)…but the back and forth dialogue and exchanging of ideas were truly happening at a dizzying pace..with an ever building crescendo… between attendees, as well as between attendees and The Song Team. It was amazing. It inspired me once again, to realize how this process can lead to such proactive dialogue. Often, this occurs between team-members who don’t readily communicate with one another outside of their “normal work circle.” This type of active listening and cross-pollination of ideas is often the place where creative solutions “live.” It’s how we find the ladder, the path that takes us to where we need to be.
Amy and Holly (we’re first name type of folks here:) run a great ship at this particular department within Delta. It was very apparent to us that they honestly believe in the “listen, care, connect” mantra which they preach at Delta. Their department is typically ranked at or near the top, in customer satisfaction rankings when compared to other “sister” departments with whom they compete company-wide, all in an effort to better serve internal and external customers. This is a testament to the fact that their team is truly empowered, engaged and inspired. It starts at the top. Thanks for including us in your annual Leadership Day program. Onward and upward 🙂
Technology as part of the team was our topic this past weekend at The Keen Digital Summit at the Omni hotel in Nashville was a truly inspiring, and enlightening event. With so many entrepreneurs, social media gurus, marketers and designers in one place…MAN, the ideas and solutions were flowing. So much information was transferred back and forth, amazing networking. Really it felt great to be a part of this inaugural event put together by Kristin Luna and Scott Van Velsor. Amazing presentations from Chefs, bloggers, designers and even Hub Spot blew the lid off my creativity tea-pot!!
Sharing the overall bill/speaking platform with the likes of Jairek Robbins and Mark Montgomery www.findyourflo.com was very cool. Both of these guys are at the top of their game creatively and have accomplished so much relative to their ages on the timeline…so to speak.
For my part, it was rewarding at a “Tech Conference” to be well-received with the message of technology as PART of the team, rather than as a replacement for vital team members. Unique thinkers, creative problem solvers, passionate inventors, skilled workers will always have a place in successful organizations. There is NO app, that will replace these folks. Nope, no way, no how.
And sharing the commonalities between successful collaborative songwriting and team building, was joyous.