3 Degrees From Great


Takin'_Care_of_Business_single“That’s lame.”

“There’s no way we’re doing that song – forget it.”

And so went the response to Randy Bachman’s pitching of his song “White Collar Worker” to his BTO band mates. He liked the song. He knew there was something special about it, but he also knew it was lacking something.  He just couldn’t put his finger on it.

He’d shifted the music to a more straight ahead rock and roll feel from the initial lighter musical tone, which was a great improvement. He’d been working on the lyrics for quite some time. The verses seemed to be coming together fairly well, but it was the chorus he wasn’t happy with. His ‘White Collar Worker’ lyric for the chorus didn’t have the right feel, but what would make it all work?

He kept mulling it over in his mind…

Driving one day through the streets of Vancouver he was lost in thought while listening to the radio. He was enjoying the music, but was also thinking about White Collar Worker. It was getting there, but seemed to be just ‘3 degrees from great’.

And then it happened: the DJ, during a live promotional segment between songs, uttered the words that forever changed the history of rock and roll, “…we’re takin’ care of business for you.”

That was it! That was the lyric Randy was looking for. Forget “White Collar Worker”, “Takin’ Care of Business” would be the chorus.

At their next gig, which happened to be at a night club, Randy told the band to follow him at the end of the night as he launched into the now famous opening guitar riff of “Takin’ Care of Business”. It caught the crowd’s attention and by the time he accelerated into the chorus shouting out “Takin’ care of business…” the crowd had flooded the dance floor and was going wild with delight to the now iconic sounds of “Takin’ Care of Business”.

There is a profound lesson for leaders in this story.

“White Collar Worker” was probably a decent song, a song with some good lyrics and a decent melody. However, it was 3 degrees from great – it needed some adjustments to make it great. Randy had to be willing to keep working on the song, to keep retooling it until he landed on something that not only he was happy with, but his target audience was happy with as well.

How many leaders keep ‘singing the same song’ over and over again getting mediocre results believing that if maybe they sing it more often, or a little louder, it will somehow produce great results. Leaders have to be willing to retool, rethink, adjust and adapt their message to shift that little bit to create something great. How many leaders are 3 degrees from great, but are unwilling to make the changes necessary to accomplish great things?

Wholehearted leaders are willing to make those changes. They’re lifelong learners. They’re committed to an ongoing process of improvement and personal growth. If what they’re doing is not producing great results they don’t keep doing the same thing hoping for different results, they adapt, adjust, correct and change.

They make that 3 degree change to create a different outcome.

What kind of change could you bring to your leadership to increase your effectiveness? Are you committed to an ongoing process of improvement and personal growth? Are you willing to listen to feedback from others in order to make the changes necessary to shift from mediocre to magnificent, from good to great, or from awful to awesome?

Are you willing to learn a lesson from Randy Bachman and draw from a variety of sources to increase the impact of your offering?

We can all choose to make a 3 degree change in the way we lead. It may not necessarily seem significant at the time, but in the long run 3 degrees of change will create a profoundly different outcome.

If we truly want to ‘take care of business’ we’ll choose to learn from a wide variety of sources and make those little changes necessary to shift us into greatness.

Will you adjust, or will you settle for 3 degrees from great?

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Leading and Living on Purpose.