davegrohlsxswI may not be sure about how I feel about SXSW, but what I’m crystal clear on are my feelings for Dave Grohl. Even though they exist, I’m not speaking of romantic feelings, but those of respect, admiration and envy. To be someone who can harness the inner drive to create an album playing every instrument himself – not to mention the talent he exudes doing so – is something I’ve always aspired to. Being in a funk lately, this talk seemed tailor-made for me.

Until recently, I saw Grohl purely as a musician. But when I watched his SXSW keynote (and then read and reread it several times), I was shocked at how deeply it affected me on multiple levels. He spoke of how ‘the musician comes first’ and ‘finding your voice’. That at all costs, it needs to be fed, nurtured and free to grow and change. No matter how much technology changes us, there is one thing that remains the same within us. There is something that can deeply move each of us to action. The problem is that many of us deny it. We push it down. We neglect it. Some of us may not even know what our ‘thing’ is. Many of us abandon it. We condemn ourselves to mundane societal norms, tasks and checklists that do nothing for our inner world. We are not truly living.

As a musician who abandoned her ‘voice’ many years ago, this got me thinking. I had just finished reading Getting Unstuck: A Guide to Finding Your Next Career Path and concluded that my ‘thing’ was creativity. To be happy in my career, I need to be able to use creativity to solve problems and find new ways to deliver results. This makes me happy. This is what I am good at. This is what I bring to the table. But how am I using this talent to feel like I’m living up to my potential? How can I use it better to meet the needs of an organization while not sacrificing anything? How do you turn your talent (voice) into a career?

Many of us have passion for what we do. We research. We strategize. We share results and ‘cool things’ we’ve found. But sometimes we get lost in the shuffling of electronic paper (Mashable posts) and our competitive nature (Klout scores). As marketers we get lumped in with people we’ve labeled as snake charmers and ladder climbers. When we lose sight of what’s really important, pursuing creative solutions, we are not pushing our voice to its limit. We’re lip syncing someone else’s song. A song that everyone else knows the words and pitches to. And it’s boring.

“It’s YOUR VOICE. Cherish it. Respect it. Nurture it. Challenge it. Stretch it and scream until it’s fucking gone. Because everyone is blessed with at least that, and who knows how long it will last . . .”

How are you finding ways to do this in your career and in your life every day?

1 Comment

  1. Good thoughts. I’ve never been a huge Dave Grohl fan (probably a generational issue more than anything) but after watching his documentary Sound City I have a new respect for the man. He understands the history of his craft — and more so, he appreciates it and honors it.

    But on to your question: If I didn’t spend time with my guitar, I don’t think I’d be as creative as a communicator. Practicing music and other forms of art uses different parts of our brain, and allows us to create greater connections among our many synapses, as well as in the world. Also, playing and performing music is a great stress relief for me. For others, it may be painting, or gardening, or dance, or some other tactile activity that helps us use a different part of the brain.

    We were created to create and to communicate. We must do both. And creating is communicating.

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