So Rush just released their 20th studio album entitled Clockwork Angels. 60+ minutes of music from three guys who have been together for over 30 years and are each pushing the 60 year-old mark. If that weren’t incredible enough, it’s actually a really good album, but then again, I am a Rush fan.
What that means is that I will certainly give them a chance when they release new material. They are typically treading in some new territory, and as fans we’ve become accustomed to their desire to change course musically over the years. That’s probably what has kept them thriving and relevant since 1974.
What this also means is that it might take some time to get used to their new direction. Mention Rush to 99% of the population, and they will immediately think of the song, “Tom Sawyer.” Even if they liked that song, they may not have liked other things they heard by the band because it wasn’t exactly like (or very close to) the style of Tom Sawyer. The same is true of this new album, but I realized a few things as I listened to it multiple times (that WILL lead to some leadership insight, I promise!).
- Rush music challenges the listener. They certainly don’t play what you are expecting. Unfamiliar chord changes, arrangements and melodies seem to be their norm, if that makes sense. Again, that might make it tough to sonically digest for some. What it does for the people who stick with it for a few listens is that it helps to expand their musical vocabulary, like listening to different points of view on a particular topic.
- Rush fans trust the band to make it worth their while. Rush has been around long enough to build up a pretty loyal fan base that will take the time to listen to and absorb the new music they create. One of the most often heard comments about a Rush album, especially this one, is that it gets better with each listen. Nuances of the music are discovered which makes you want to listen AGAIN to hear what ELSE might be going on that you missed the first 7 times. By this point you are very familiar with the music, and most likely, the oddness of the new direction is growing on you or it’s not. Thing is, you’ve already invested significant time… what’s one more listen to be sure?
Here’s how this all relates to leadership (at least in my mind)…
We all have people in our personal and professional lives that challenge us. Sometimes that challenge seems like a good thing that helps us grow, sometimes it’s just annoying. What we have to realize is that even the annoying challenges help us grow. Think about that employee who just seems to rub you the wrong way. Everything they say is like nails on a chalkboard, and you usually do what you can to avoid them. Well… what if you really gave them a chance and REALLY listened to them? What are they trying to tell you? What nuances of their personality have you missed because you dismissed their annoying persona from the get go?
Like I am a fan of Rush, I think it is important for leaders to be a fan of people. Not crazy, paint your face kind of fans… well… maybe – why not? What shows your enthusiasm for your team more than your willingness to go out on a limb for them? What instills loyalty more than consistently delivering on your promise to be there for them? What creates more “I will do whatever it takes” type of attitudes than having complete trust in someone and their ability to lead you in the right direction?
That’s what a fan sees. That’s what you want your employees to see in you. But like many things, it starts with you.
Be a fan of theirs, they will be a fan of yours.
Thanks for reading!
About the author: Matt Heller attended his first Rush concert in 1984. He was 14 and had to buy and extra ticket so his Dad could come along as the chaperone. True story.