“Rock is dead.”
“We never go out anymore.”
“I don’t know how to work this damn thing.”
“I can’t hang like I used to.”
“There’s no good new music these days.”
“The best music was made years ago.”
“I never have any time.”
“I never hear from _____ anymore.”
“I wish I had money to do that.”
“Kids are the only ones that understand technology.”
“I can’t watch that, I’m asleep by 9.”
Sound familiar? Man, I hope not. But sadly, I’m sure some or all of these do. I just hope you’re not the one saying them. To witness your friends age in front of your eyes is to hear one of these phrases uttered to you. You throw your hands up and relent that times today are not as good as times before. I had more time. I knew what was cool. They don’t make good music anymore. Hell, just using the word “they” implies that there is some higher power consortium that lives for the sole purpose of making sure you get pinned into a lonely corner of all things you can’t have, do, or revisit.
And despite what you think, this 50-year-old is not on this rant simply for my own age group. I can remember this happening early in my 20s. Before your early 20s, everyone has a mutual purpose and a unified direction. You’re in school, college, you’re single… everyone is on the same freeway and equally voracious to discover anything and everything that life serves up. We’re all in it together to find the coolest and greatest idea, restaurant or song. As you’re running full speed, everyone is running with you, and you gaze in amazement as your friends turn you onto something you hadn’t considered. It’s great and all about the relationship, the fun, and the journey… together.
Then something horrible and wonderful happens. Life. You go in different directions. You make new discoveries. You find new experiences. Sometimes you’re alone. Sometimes you’re with new people. And then it starts to happen…
You start to feel the struggle. Not all at once but like water slowly dripping each year. It happens gradually. As splintered as your old world becomes, where are you heading? Do you stay in that same bubble? What do your new bubbles start to look like? Do you find it easier to stay there or do you rise to the challenge of continuing to explore? Do you find new music? Do you stay or lose touch with old friends? Do you look for that new restaurant? What is the next trend that’s on the way? This is your journey.
Ladies and gentlemen, life takes work. It ain’t going to find you. It’s not going to beat your door down. It won’t invite itself over for dinner. You gotta go get it.
I have found that there are two characteristics that often define most people. You have some people who feel that life is something that is dictated to them and happens to them each day. The other, you find the opposite. In those, they believe that they dictate life. That life is this wonderful opportunity that is meant to be honored for its past and then grabbed by the throat and told what to do. They’re running it. It’s not running them.
Throw me into the latter. Life is intentional. It’s meant to be lived deliberately. It takes tremendous work. That friend that you have from school… they may not reach out to you. You may have to do it. That iPod you’re still hanging onto (please note all the real estate here that I bypassed by skipping over the cd, cassette, vinyl and eight tracks), you may need to move on. We live in a subscription and on-demand world today. We want it when we want it and we’re willing to pay for the ability to have constant accessibility. If this paradigm didn’t just register with you then it’s time to get moving.
Don’t let your friends tell you they are too busy to stay current. They aren’t. Period. I have a theory that if you walk up to any random person and ask how they are, 90% will tell you how busy they are, and it’s just not true. Busy is a mindset. We all have the same number of hours in a day. How else can you explain leaders and creative geniuses that change the world with the same number of hours each day? They live intentionally. If you still don’t believe me, pop into a Starbucks on a Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 pm. Packed. Don’t get me wrong, the espressos and lattes are killer, but no one is as busy as they think they are.
As I often do when we get together in this place every quarter, I have wishes for you.
Yes, I’m sharing and allowing you in and, yes, you can infer that this is important to me, my family, and my work. I invest hours into being curious and being a good friend. I take it to the point of even incorporating it into my daily planning. If I haven’t had lunch or a beer with an important friend in a long time, then it’s not from a lack of trying. I will relentlessly wear them out until we catch up. I am going to listen to every podcast, every Spotify Daily Mix, and top songs and see every live show that I can. I don’t care if it’s something I know or like. In fact, that’s the point, to get out of my comfort zone. I am desperate to find that next big trend, where music is heading, and the latest great business idea. Staying relevant takes a lot of damn work and I am infatuated with the journey and where we all heading next.
So, back to my wish. My wish for you is to be curious. Keep discovering. Be intentional. Don’t utter one of those phrases above. Put the work in. Make it part of your life. Stay relevant. Stay connected. Do something that makes you feel weird. Be an early adopter. The next big thing is out there. Go find it. It does take a lot of work, but man, the reward is so worth it.
As President & CEO, Doug is an expert on all things ECE — as he should be since he’s worked here twice! His daily duties include: fire fighting, juggling, peacemaking and dreaming up ways to make ECE the best company it can be.