Thursday, December 31, 2009

Passion Party #130 - Resolutions Vs. Accomplishments

It is that horrible time of the year
when we feel duty bound to make resolutions,
to promise to do things differently or make things better.
This primal desire must stem from starting a season where the days begin to get lighter and longer, and we start to see a rebirth in nature, if only very faint in these first days of January.
Statistics show that only 19% of all resolutions are kept for a full two years, a lousy average, like batting .190 in baseball.
So this year I have vowed to make no resolutions
(is that my resolution?)
Instead, I am going to take the next 4 days to review last year and list the 10 most important accomplishments I achieved in 2009.

Reflecting on my success, rather than staring at the blank page of the future - A page I can only guess as to how it will be filled.
Once I see what I have done, I will have a better idea of what to expect to achieve in the next year.
And those choices will be colored by the happiness of seeing how far I have already traveled.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Passion Party #129 - Everyday Grace

One on the most profound sculptures at the Smithsonian Museum is a massive sculpture of George Washington by Horatio Greenough commissioned for the centennial of Washington's birth in 1832. Larger than life, Washington sits like a Greek God, muscular and half-naked, one hand pointing towards the sky and looking out towards the future. In his other hand is a sword, but rather than holding it for battle he is holding the handle outward, with the sheathed blade pointing towards his torso. He is giving the sword away, passing it on to the next person to lead.

I have learned that it is these moments of giving that are most profound. More than the battle fought and won, it is the simple gifts given with thought that have the most impact.

Whenever I start working with a new client I send a thank you gift, to acknowledge that I appreciate working with the person. Usually it is a CD of relaxing music, to help bring some peace in a possibly chaotic time, but sometimes I send a book. I try to read the person, and send them something thought-provoking or spiritual in nature.

Recently I sent one client a book by Marianne Williamson called "Everyday Grace". A few days later I received this email:

"Hi George,
I just received the book you sent, Everyday Grace. It appears to be a lovely book . . . and somewhat eerily appropriate. Two of my brothers are flying with my mom to Connecticut after Thanksgiving to visit a faith healer--named Grace! And as you can imagine, we are praying for something miraculous! I hope this is a good omen, but it is definitely a reminder that whether or not we get a specific miracle, my mother is surrounded by God's grace every day."

So today I will continue to live in Everyday Grace and lead with the giving hand.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Passion Party #128 - Food Is For Nurturing

Last night we had a dinner party
but it wasn't really about dinner.
It was a listening party for a new recording
A song with lyrics by 2 lovely ladies
A song that will be featured on my new album.
Six of us gathered to celebrate and listen to the finished product.
We started the night with wine, cheese and bread
because it is a "Chardonnay and Cheese" kind of song.
We ended the night with a salad
and a brief cello performance from Evan, our son.

Some people think that food is all about fuel for the body.
But this dinner was about nurturing friendship
and nurturing our souls
We were fed as much by the music
as we were by the food.
We spoke a little about the business of music
and our jobs
but it was mainly about creation,
about desires and dreams.

And by the end of the night,
exhausted and fulfilled
my body mind and soul nurtured
and at peace
Not thinking about "what next?"
but about What Is.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Passion Party #127 - 10,000 hours

It takes time to get really good
at anything
Hours and hours of practice and focus
of repetitive activity and training
whether it is to be an Estimator
or a doctor/specialist
or a tennis pro
or a professional musician
And even then, in this world of over-abundance,
there is no guarantee that what you have trained for
will be a career that you will make a living at
So you must love the journey.

The book, "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell, states that research shows
it takes 10,000 hours to reach that level or excellence.
Behind every "overnight success" is 10,000 hours of training.
This is why it seems that young people are so "talented".
It is young people that have the time available
to put in the hours to become talented.
10,000 hours
= 1000 hours for 10 years
= about three hours a day of practice and training
333 days a year, for 10 years

So, love the journey!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Passion Party #126 - Giving Back

It is the season of giving
but more importantly
it is a time to give back.
I am not talking about money
but about time and service,
about taking an hour or a day
to heal part of the world
that you walk in or drive by.

I play many gigs each year, and I spend many more hours in my office "day job"
but my favorite show of the year is when I offer my talent to help raise money to build housing for homeless people in Los Angeles.

Each of us has a talent or ability to help.
The gift of time is the most precious gift of all
for a child, or a sick friend or relative.
It can be big or small
and it truly is the thought that counts.

For a big example of giving back,
read this posting by my friend Derek Sivers

Friday, December 18, 2009

Passion Party #125 - Cherish Those You Love

So often I take for granted
what is truly a gift
I need to thank your toes
for their daily walk beside me
I need to nurture this love
so it continues to grow

I need to kick you out
I need to take you in
I need to listen
I need to learn how to cry
and how to laugh at our foibles.

How do you show
that you cherish those you love?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Passion Party #124 - Vision - Envision - Revision

First you need the vision
the Big Picture
the cover of the puzzle box.
I need to find someone that has done what I want to do, and see what it looks like.

Then you need to envision,
to imagine, to see in your own mind,
"What will it look like when...?"
looking at all the details
down to the smallest item
the when, where, how and why of it.

And then I can't be afraid of revision -
things change
inside of me and outside
I have to be able to hang on to the vision
and be willing to
revisit, review
and change what is not working
and be open to ways to make it better, clearer.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Passion Party #123 - Stress

In the home stretch of another year
and the layers of stress are mounting.

Stress is a necessary part of life
If you are stress-free, you are
either a Buddha, or dead.

Stress is what allows the Golden Gate Bridge
to cross the San Francisco Bay,
well-engineered stress.

Life however is often not so well-engineered.
Add holiday pressure, work deadlines, end of year bills
and a tough economy
and you have a mix that can cause
back pain, headaches or worse.

So just for today
create a stress-free zone
get a massage
take a bath
give yourself a gift of time,
and unconditional love.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Passion Party #122 - Do What You Love

The more I do what I love
the happier I am
the more at peace I become.

Just doing it a little each day
even just an hour
makes the day feel whole.

Why not do it?
What are you afraid of?

"Fear is a friend that's misunderstood"
-John Mayer

Today I can take the time
to face the fear
find my friend
do what I love

Friday, December 11, 2009

Passion Party #121 - Know Your Numbers

Thirty years ago, when I got my first sales job I had a problem where I would make money once, but I would spend it three times:
I would spend it when I knew I was going to get the commission check, and then I would spend it again when I received the check. Then I would spend it again in the belief that the money would continue to arrive, in the HOPE of the next check.
This was not a good financial plan. It led to wreckage that took me years to clean up.

A similar vagueness exists now.
Last year I set a financial goal for 2009, but what is the financial reality right now?
And how do the two numbers relate?
Am I earning my lifestyle, or am I financing it?
And once I know the reality, how can I adjust the numbers so they match?
I can plan to earn more in 2010
but I need to spend less now.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Passion Party #120 - Finding The Core

I keep asking myself the question,
"What do you REALLY want to do?"

Once I get past the ego
of how great I am
or how talented
or what a great composer
or I am writing a symphony
blah blah blah

Once I get all that out of the way
what is left?
I want to help people
I want to be of service
not just to the Greater Good
but to specific people
to see the improvements and results
whether it is to help someone buy a house
or become more effective in their finances
or lifting someone's spirits through music
or being the best dad I can be to my sons

This is the core of my passion.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Passion Party #119 - A Giving Hand

It feels good to give back
To do something
for my community
to use my talent
to do good for others.

It reminds me
I am not alone
I can play big
I have enough to share
and that it is by giving
that I shall receive.

Today I can trust enough to
lead not with an iron fist
but with a giving hand

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Passion Party #118 - Reward Yourself, Part 2

Reward yourself
You've made it through another week
on this crazy planet.

It can be as simple
as a walk in the park
or a movie matinee
It can be taking a moment
to sit and watch the birds
or taking a night off to read a great novel

It can be looking through old photos
or meeting a friend for coffee
It can be watching the sunrise
or a drive up the coast

The gift of breathing
the gift of movement
the gift of time
the gift of health
Accept these gifts, and many others
as your just rewards.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Passion Party #117 - Follow Up

If all I do
is follow up
my day will be full
of purposeful action;
the Universe
will fill my cup.

Like Kobe Bryant
I'll miss a few
but all of the practice
will give me traction;
if all I do
is follow through.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Passion Party #116 - The Purpose of Music

I majored in Music at Brandeis University from 1969 - 1973.
I spent 4 years in deep study of theory and composition, the relationship between notes and pitches and tempi and how music works.
I became a musician. It filled my soul, if not my pocketbook.

This week I get to be a musician again.
Tonight there is a rehearsal, and on Friday night we are recording a new song that I wrote with some friends.
It is a gift that I treasure more and more now.
When I meet people I am thrilled when their first question is "How is the Jazz going?" as opposed to "How's business?"

Dr. Karl Paulnack, Director of the Music Division at The Boston Conservatory described the Purpose of Music this way:
"The (ancient) Greeks said that music and astronomy were two sides of the same coin. Astronomy was seen as the study of relationships between observable, permanent, external objects, and music was seen as the study of relationships between invisible, internal, hidden objects. Music has a way of finding the big, invisible moving pieces inside our hearts and souls and helping us figure out the position of things inside us."

He elaborates on this idea in an address he presented in 2004. I recommend you read the whole address here

Today I get to once again find some of those big, invisible moving pieces, and I am honored and glad.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Passion Party #115 - Old Dog, New Tricks

Today I feel like an old dog
I want to lie around and sleep
circle the wagons
find my comfy couch
sip coffee and dream of chasing rabbits.

However, life has other ideas and plans for me.
Today I get to learn some new tricks
add to my experience
my plate is full
of meetings and things to accomplish
I just need to be willing
to learn some new tricks today.