Play It Like Van Halen

A special edition of September’s LIFE Magazine featured all things Van Halen. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few decades, Van Halen is an iconic rock band started and led by rock ‘n’ roll innovator and guitar virtuoso, Eddie Van Halen. Eddie died in 2020 after a long battle with throat cancer but as LIFE Magazine hailed, he “brought an unforgettable combination of joy and virtuosity to his music. Many have tried to copy his signature style, none has succeeded.”

In reading the articles about the journey of this band, I read this quote, “…whenever there was a guitar in his hands, he would be smiling from ear to ear like a little kid who couldn’t possibly imagine anything more fun in the world. That exuberance was infectious. He seemed to be born with the express purpose of playing rock ‘n’ roll. And he would play it like no one ever had before or has since.”

For some reason, I was struck hard by that observation. For several days, I mused to myself about what it feels like to love your work so much that your joy and exuberance are “infectious.” How does that deep satisfaction and aliveness affect the people you live and work with? What about clients, patients, and customers?  Vendors, colleagues, and everyday people in your community?

I know there are some common professions that little boys and girls dream of becoming like a fireman, Disney princess, ballet dancer, and of course, a singer in a rock ‘n’ roll band. And even for adults, there are probably more than a few of us who secretly dream of being famous. But, it’s worth noting that Eddie Van Halen’s joy didn’t seem to come from being famous as much as it came from doing something he truly loved.

I have no doubt that there were elements of his fame, recording, performing, and marketing that he did not love as much as playing his guitar. We all know those tasks come with any business in which we endeavor to succeed. But, if the primary part of your work does not feed your soul, bring you pleasure, and light up your face… I have two things to recommend:

  • Examine whose life you’re really living and what is holding you back from pursuing something you truly love. Consider a coach who can help you to unravel what that is, what’s holding you in a lesser place, and what a transition might look like for you.
  • Or did you once love a part of your work that has now lost its luster for you? Consider how you could rekindle the flame that drew you to your profession in the first place. Maybe a coach could help you with delegating the pieces that are weighing you down and help you to do more of what you truly love doing.

My Dad reminded me once that at the end of our life we all go “one to a box.”  We have one life and spend a whole lot of it doing our work. The best thing we could ever give our children, grandchildren, partners, or friends is the company of a happy, joyful, fully alive human being. Doing work we love is a big part of being that for us and for them.

I love watching light bulb moments in the faces of my audience members, workshop attendees, and coaching clients because of the information I’m bringing to them. I love knowing and hearing that their lives get easier and more successful. I love researching and expanding my understanding with fresh perspectives about my work and finding ways to bring that information to my clients in new and innovative ways. I don’t love writing ad copy. I don’t love meeting article deadlines. There are lots of small pieces I don’t necessarily love but when I take the stage, create an on-site coaching session agenda, or deliver a live workshop on Zoom or in-person… but, I LOVE my work! I believe you can, too.  You are in charge of it and must decide that there is no other alternative—that you will accept nothing less.

This week, my wish is that you will become the Eddie Van Halen of your profession, that you will find a way to be smiling from ear to ear like a little kid who couldn’t possibly imagine anything more fun in the world, that your exuberance will be infectious to everyone who sees you, that it will seem (to those who experience you) you were born with the express purpose of doing what you do so well. And that you will play it like no one ever has before or since.

Rock on, my friends… Rock On!

Do you love your work? I’d love to hear about it!

“Never continue in a job you don’t enjoy. If you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll like yourself, you’ll have inner peace. And if you have that, along with physical health, you will have had more success than you could possibly have imagined.”
~ Johnny Carson


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