If you want a lesson in professionalism, go hear some (Texas) music

I never got to see the new exhibit at the Bob Bullock museum.  The music was so good: I had to stay and listen.  On opening night, Marcia Ball and The Texas Guitar Women gave me a lesson in pure  professionalism.  They showed us their art — and their hearts — and of course, I loved it.

Texas Guitar Women

It was a tough gig: a huge, cold granite space that made fleas out of all of us humans. The audience ranged from what looked like about eight to 80-plus, all scattered about behind pillars and giant stars.  But those women filled up the space — and kept going without letting up.  It was as if they lit a bonfire in the middle of that massive cave, and we all gathered round and warmed our hands.

Every so often I need a role model to remind me that being really, really good takes a lot of work. Those women knew what we expected and over-delivered on every count.

Oh, just in case you don’t know who’s in the Texas Guitar Women, it’s Carolyn Wonderland, Shelley King, Sarah Brown, Lisa Pankratz and Cindy Cashdollar (who wasn’t there that night).   All showcased by the inimitable Marcia Ball.

So, go hear some Texas music and wander into Waterloo to buy those CDs.  It’ll loosen up your brain (and heart).  Besides, It’s gift-giving time.

Taking a fresh look at the problem

Friend, writer and blues musician Susan Rita Ruel tells me that learning to stand-up paddle has made her more effective in business meetings.  Rita lives in Manhattan and paddled half-way across the Hudson on her first try.  The “eureka” she got from her SUP success gave her a new perspective on work.

Stand up paddlers in Manhattan
Stand up paddlers in Manhattan.

That’s why I find learning new skills and meeting people so rejuvenating.  It’s all about getting unstuck enough to solve the problem at hand. Then, if the product is late, focus on the organization; if that’s in transition; focus on the leadership; if the leadership has nothing to say, forge new partnerships. Each tactical stab is a new insight into the bigger challenge.

Hearing and listening

I have an old phone, and it’s gotten to the point that — if conditions are less than ideal — I have a hard time hearing what’s being said.  I’ve also discovered, thanks to the phone, that I don’t always take the time to focus and repeat what I think I heard.  In other words, I don’t always listen.  The phone, by flagging my laziness, is actually improving my listening skills.

I still need to get a new phone.