I have a friend who is a musician and (like myself) has struggled in the work world. Thus it occurred to me that opportunities today are comparable to the music realm. You see, musicians are in a unique position of being able to create music, perform music, or simply listen to music.

In business only a few individuals have the gifts and talents to produce or perform actual music, yet we all have real abilities and similar choices. Here are some choices:

Listen to the Music
We all know people that go to work and approach work as a “job” doing just enough to get paid. There many “music listeners” who are content with this. They are disengaged from company matters or decisions adding little value to the growth of the company beyond filling a slot that otherwise would filled by someone else. Aren’t these the ones crying “woe is me” when inevitable layoffs occur during down cycles of the economy? I suspect approximately 50% of the work population resides here. The sad fact is that all of us have talents and skills that bring value above the rut. Corporate America and unions in particular often encourages this by mandating high wages and benefits for unskilled or mindless jobs in order to keep positions filled. Although highly paid, these workers often feel trapped and miserable hating their jobs yet stuck for economic reasons. I would suggest that the cost to self-esteem is far greater than the economic benefit staying in this station.

Perform Music
Isn’t it a better place to “perform music” in a work setting by using talents and skills that add value to the company? Although contributing individuals are unlikely to be paid what they are worth, at least they are doing what they do best and hopefully enjoy doing. The Japanese manufacturing leaders have shown us how even large corporations can foster engagement of all workers at all levels through Kaizen. Look no further than Toyota or other Japanese auto manufactures to see the impact engaging workers can have on an industry.

However, consider this: Is it enough to perform music endlessly without the need to grow and evolve? You see, performing musicians may enjoy performing yet are unlikely to ever become great; very few musicians achieve stardom as there are far too many talented musicians competing, for the ordinary to reach that pinnacle. I believe we have to grow beyond talent and skill delivery to benefit the company, ourselves clients and even our families in the long term.

Create Music
Now here is where in the music industry even the least talented musician performer can achieve greatness! Creating music that can last for generations. Companies that encourage creativity from all levels are the ones that set the standard and enter such categories as “Good to Great” (Jim Collins classic) or for small companies, “Little Giants” (identified by Bo Burlingham). Individuals who step out on their own when stifled by corporate bureaucracy can achieve the same. Looking back, I did not realize the gifts and talents I had until I stepped away from the corporate culture. You see, starting a company requires a draw upon every ounce of learning, experience and drive for more learning than is required in the large corporate walls. At Edoc Service, we encourage creativity and engagement from all our staff.   

Want to experience encouragement and energy for a startup? Attend the Inc. Magazine GROWCO conferences and/or Leadership conferences. The attending entrepreneurs (mostly young) are “music creators” all. It seems regardless of the economic state and government challenges thrown at the business community, there is not a “hanging head” in that large audience. These are all energized and excited individuals. This is not to say their jobs are easy. This goes beyond creativity. It takes courage, desire, drive, purpose and more to succeed in this arena, yet it is the ultimate path to greatness.

Are you stuck in a job you hate or one that isn’t going anywhere, or one with a limited future?  Write some music.