Sometimes life works out in spite of us

I’ve often read that to be successful you must commit to something you know and stick with it. Well, I’m no singer, but I still sing. I know nothing about singing and I don’t plan on learning, but I know I like to sing so I do. 

Recently, I was driving along listening to the radio when Rod Stewart came on belting an oldie I was familiar with. Then immediately after, I heard The Band Perry entertaining me with one of their songs.

As I listened, I cleverly put the two songs together in my mind and couldn’t wait to get home to croon my new ditty to Gar. Bursting through the door, I hurriedly strode straight to Gar’s office and cornered him at his desk. He started to stand, I presume to hug me, but I put my hands on his shoulders and settled him back in his chair.

Then feeling very foxy, I chortled, “I have a mash-up version of a couple of songs and you are gonna be so proud.” He never knows if he should relax and enjoy the show or bolt for the nearest exit. He’s dealt with me and my shenanigans for so long that if I were a good person, I’d almost feel sorry for him. 

He sat back while I cleared my throat and then with a little wave of my hand like a rockstar motioning to her crowd of concert goers, I warbled out, “When the one you love is in love with someone new…” (Rod) “…better read me my rights and tell the undertaker he better dig two.” (The Band Perry) Gar was stunned into silence.

I’m sure he couldn’t find the words to adequately express his admiration for my ingenuity. See, you don’t have to know what you’re doing to inspire others. 

I love the story of Leo Fender, the inventor of Fender guitars. He was blind in one eye and deaf in one ear because, at 8 years old, he had a cancerous tumor removed from his eye and then later in life, while repairing an amplifier with his head inside, someone plugged it in, destroying his hearing on one side.

Leo played the saxophone and dabbled in piano, but never had formal training in any musical instrument. In fact, he had no formal training in electrical engineering, but instead majored in accounting and was a bookkeeper for several companies. Amazingly enough, he didn’t know how to play or tune a guitar, yet created the most popular electric guitars in the world.

David Gilmour’s black Fender Stratocaster sold for nearly $4 million, and Kurt Cobain’s Smells Like Teen Spirit Fender Mustang fetched $4,550,000. Leo was a fabulous success but, at least early on, he wouldn’t have been considered an expert. He didn’t commit to something he knew anything about, but instead loved what he did so much he worked until the day before his death. 

Bill Gates once said of Steve Jobs, “Steve doesn’t know anything about engineering and 99% of what he says and thinks is wrong. He doesn’t know anything about technology; he’s just a super salesman.”

What did Steve have to say?

“People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice. The best way to do great work is to look for something you love to do, then do it.”

When Steve was 25, his net worth was $100 million.

Really, it seems we simply need to find something we love to do, and never give up, even if we don’t know what we’re doing.

We know Grandma Moses didn’t begin to paint until age 76, but Samuel L. Jackson didn’t get a movie role until he was 46, and Morgan Freeman didn’t land in a major movie until he was 52. At 23, Tina Fey was working at the YMCA, and at 24, Stephen King was a janitor, while at 30, Harrison Ford was a carpenter. 

We need to be fearless in the pursuit of what sets our soul on fire and David Brooks, writer for the New York Times, would surely agree.

He says, to change our life, we should commit to some type of larger belief such as, to change personal habits: leave running shorts on the floor at night, so they’ll be the cue to go running in the morning. I’d go for that. I’d get up, get on my running shorts and run right over to the doughnut shop.