Lou Reed: Lessons on doing from one of rock’s lifelong mavericks

“I always believed that I have something important to say and I said it.”  —Lou Reed


Lou Reed
(photo courtesy Michael Ochs Archives, via dailymail.co.uk)

Last week, punks everywhere mourned the loss of Lou Reed, the iconic singer-songwriter from New York City whose signature toughness, honesty, and dark romantic sensibility have influenced rock music for the past 40-plus years.

But Reed wasn’t known only for his musical contributions; he was a figure to be reckoned with.

Clad in black leather in the age of hippie cotton and beads, notoriously deadpan in interviews, and collaborating with artists ranging from John Cale to wife Laurie Anderson to Metallica, Reed was always his own man, doing the things he wanted to.

We can all take a lesson. Read this Fast Company writeup—“Lou Reed on how to be as creative, dynamic, and difficult as Lou Reed”—to see how he illustrated many of the cornerstone principles of turning your ideas into reality—learning from the best, working hard, keeping it simple, and more.

Who inspires you to do the things you want to?

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Are the happiest people changing the world?

Photo credit: photobank.kiev.ua, Shutterstock

Photo credit: photobank.kiev.ua, Shutterstock

Here’s a question for you: are you happy changing the world? Does that spur you on to do bigger and better things? In an article on Harvard Business Review, Rosabeth Moss Kanter talks about how people who have the toughest jobs tackling worldwide issues and causes are often the happiest, because they can see how their work has meaning.

The happiest people I know are dedicated to dealing with the most difficult problems. Turning around inner city schools. Finding solutions to homelessness or unsafe drinking water. Supporting children with terminal illnesses. They face the seemingly worst of the world with a conviction that they can do something about it and serve others.

For many social entrepreneurs, happiness comes from the feeling they are making a difference.

In research for my book Evolve!, I identified three primary sources of motivation in high-innovation companies: mastery, membership, and meaning. Another M, money, turned out to be a distant fourth. Money acted as a scorecard, but it did not get people up-and-at ’em for the daily work, nor did it help people go home every day with a feeling of fulfillment.

I see that same spirit in business teams creating new initiatives that they believe in. Gillette’s Himalayan project team took on the challenge of changing the way men shave in India, where the common practice of barbers using rusty blades broken in two caused bloody infections. A team member who initially didn’t want to leave Boston for India found it his most inspiring assignment. Similarly, Procter & Gamble’s Pampers team in Nigeria find happiness facing the problem of infant mortality and devising solutions, such as mobile clinics that sent a physician and two nurses to areas lacking access to health care.

People can be inspired to meet stretch goals and tackle impossible challenges if they care about the outcome.

While obstacles will arise, working together on human issues can be emotional and bring people closer together. Additionally, Kanter said, such large issues can diminish day-to-day annoyances and issues.

What do you think? Does your work give you a purpose and make you happy even when faced with adversity?

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Link roundup: Are you making the most of your career journey?

Fall symbolizes wisdom and abundance; are you taking a similar approach to your career? (Photo credit: blmiers2, Creative Commons/Flickr)

On Saturday September 22nd, Autumn officially began here in the United States (so long, Summer!). Autumn symbolizes wisdom and fulfillment, making now a perfect time to explore how you can make the most of your career journey.

To help you get started, we’re sharing some interesting articles on new ways of thinking about your work. Next week, we’ll share some resources and opportunities to help you put your ideas into action.

Michele Martin, Career resolutions as a key to career thriving

Career resolutions are really the habits we create for ourselves that we do on a regular basis. How do we spend that first hour of work? What rituals have we created for ourselves daily, weekly, monthly?

Goals give us a sense of destination, while resolutions are the habits that can take us there. And even when our goals feel unclear, we can still keep our resolutions as a strategy for continuing to develop even if we feel stuck or lost.

Brazen Careerist, How to succeed as a multi-passion careerist

The problem with being multi-passionate isn’t the long list of interests, the bouncing between ideas or even wanting to “do it all.” The problem is when you don’t finish something. If you make a commitment to yourself and back down, you’re going to feel crappy about it.

Instead of trying to narrow your passions, just make sure you finish what you say you will. By completing whatever passion projects you start out on, you’ll get an extreme high that will continue to motivate you in pursuing your other interests.

Mark and Angel Hack Life, 11 ways successful people start their mornings

Put first things first. Successful people recognize that not all hours are created equal, and they strategically account for this when planning their day. For most of us, our minds operate at peak performance in the morning hours when we’re well rested. So obviously it would be foolish to use this time for a trivial task like reading emails. These peak performance hours should be 100% dedicated to working on the tasks that bring you closer to your goals.

Rosetta Thurman, New leadership for a new nonprofit sector, a manifesto

“What kinds of nonprofit leaders do we need now in order to effect social change? Real social change?

My sense is that there are four kinds of nonprofit leaders we need now:

True Believers
Ruthless Innovators
Ambassadors of Diversity
Courageous Advocates

If you’ve been following my work or reading my blog for a while, you’ve probably guessed the punchline already. I believe that we already have these kinds of leaders in our midst, but that we just need to do more to support and engage them more fully in the work.”

Blog of Impossible Things, Get disciplined, not motivated

Everywhere you go, you see people trying to get motivated to do something, to make a change. They’ll go read something, watch something or attend a conference and come away “motivated.” But that only leaves them “motivated”, it doesn’t move them to action.

“I’m motivated to do this”. “I’m motivated to do that”. Stop being motivated and just do it already! You don’t need more motivation – you need discipline.

See discipline is a whole different animal.

What have you read recently that has helped you think about your work?

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