For our TunesDay selection this week, I want to present a song that I suspect a number of people are feeling this morning after St. Patrick‘s Day.
It’s from Billy Joel who I consider to be one of the top three American songwriters of the last 35 – 40 years (along with Dylan and Springsteen). It’s called “Big Shot” and it has a lot to do with the morning after as well as some thoughts about the night before. Give it a listen:
I’ll be the first to tell you that music videos from the 1970’s weren’t quite what they are now and this one was no exception. That said, his tale of the morning after the night on the town resonates in a number of ways. I realize that Billy is not writing about business – the song is alleged to have been written about either (pick one) himself, Mick Jagger, or Bianca Jagger. There is one thing, however, I take from the song that has nothing to do with midnight misbehavior and everything to do with business: being a big shot.
Too many people confuse what they do with who they are. As Billy writes:
They were all impressed with your Halston dress
And the people that you knew at Elaine’s
And the story of your latest success
Kept ’em so entertained
There is a fine line between having the confidence one needs to be successful in business and the other side of that line which is arrogance. Great leaders listen a lot more than they speak and when they have the information they need, they act. Great leaders recognize that while the vision may be theirs it probably took the hard work of a devoted team to make that vision a reality. When success comes, staying humble might be hard but it’s the only way that success leaves everyone that sees it feeling good. While I suppose that being a rich jerk has its pluses, success (and money) often doesn’t last. The people you see on the way down will remember how you were on the way up.
The song ends with this thought:
Well, it’s no big sin to stick your two cents in
If you know when to leave it alone
But you went over the line
You couldn’t see it was time to go home
I’ve seen people in high positions who overestimate their capabilities and are out of touch with reality. They think their two cents are gospel. The Greeks had a word for it: hubris. I have one too: stupidity. Staying humble doesn’t make you weak just as having a big job doesn’t make you a big shot. That’s my take – what’s yours?