It is TunesDay and this week we’re going to have a dose of Good Ol Grateful Dead. At the end of the 1980’s, the Dead released “Built To Last” and the song “Standing On The Moon” from the album became a standard part of their concert repertoire from then forward. Have a listen but I’ll tell you up front that while the quality of the music is superb it’s not a great video. I chose this performance because it’s 1989, it’s an earthquake benefit the Dead played in Oakland, and yes, that’s Clarence Clemons sitting in on sax:
Pretty, right? And the “Such a lovely view of Heaven/ I’d rather be with you” part while we look at Jerry and Clarence gets more poignant every day. So what does this have to do with business?
There is a tendency for all of us to have a “grass is always greener” mentality both in life and in business. This song captures that as well as how one’s perspective can have an awful to do with one’s happiness. Jerry sings about a number of things in the world that are pretty bad (war, children starving, etc.) and about standing on the moon, happy to be away from all of it. In fact, with a broader perspective, they appear kind of small as he “watches it all roll by.” The singer then realizes that while it’s serene on the moon with a lovely view of Heaven, the person he loves is still on earth. Despite all the ugliness of the world, he wants to be back there.
It’s always a good idea to keep the broader perspective in business. Be aware of the details but like the protagonist in the song, see them as part of a much bigger whole. Things that may seem important up close are, in fact, relatively trivial. It’s also an example of how things can take on added meaning when we use that additional perspective. Jerry would be gone (along with Brent, the Dead’s keyboard player) in a handful of years after this was released. I can’t listen to this without getting chills – he has a lovely view of Heaven but would rather be with us. In fact, Garcia had almost died shortly before this song was written – I’ve always thought Robert Hunter was writing these lyrics with that in mind.
As businesspeople, a little time on the moon is a good thing. Take a step back and don’t get caught up in any one moment or weekly report. Stand on that proverbial moon. You’ll “hear a cry of victory/And another of defeat” and realize that it’s the journey as much as it is the destination. Coming along?