I’m a big fan of Jimmy Buffett’s music. Some of his song lyrics speak to my soul and offer a philosophy that has helped me in the business world since I started listening to him when I moved to Bradenton, Florida, in 1997.
I was 28, knew no one, and in my first management job, as features editor of The Bradenton Herald. I felt a bit unsure of myself as I began to lead a staff of eight journalists, most of whom were older than me.
To get into the Florida mode (having moved from Chicagoland), I bought a few Jimmy Buffett cassette tapes. One of them had a song called “It’s my job,” written by Mac McAnally. I used to listen to this song as I drove to the newsroom each day, to get my head into the work mode.
In the middle of late last night I was sittin’ on a curb
I didn’t know what about, but I was feelin’ quite disturbed
A street sweeper came whistlin’ by, he was bouncin’ every step
It seemed strange how good he felt, so I asked him while he swept.
He said, “It’s my job to be cleaning up this mess
And that’s enough reason to go for me
It’s my job to be better than the rest
And that makes a day for me.”
What’s the business lesson? Whether you’re a street sweeper or an exec, strive to be the best.
After I heard one of Buffett’s more famous songs, “Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes,” I adopted one line as my personal philosophy. “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.” It served me well working for so many years in often stressful newsrooms. I must have thought of that thousands of times over the years.
It’s those changes in latitudes,
changes in attitudes, nothing remains quite the same.
With all of our running and all of our cunning,
If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.
What’s the business lesson? Laughter can offer great stress relief. In appropriate situations, keeping it light helps to keep the problem du jour in perspective.
Finally, lyrics from the Buffett and Matt Betton song “Breathe in, Breathe out, Move on,” written in response to Hurricane Katrina.
If a hurricane doesn’t leave you dead
It will make you strong
Don’t try to explain it just nod your head
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On …
According to my watch the time is now
Past is dead and gone
Don’t try to shake it, just nod your head
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On.
What’s the business lesson? No matter how devastating the storm, it will make you stronger; don’t dwell too long on it, keep breathing and move on.
What song lyrics run through your mind in the course of a business day?