Everything I Learned About Positivity I Learned From… Howard Jones?
Finding Positivity in a Not-so-positive World
By Steve Lindsey, CIO/CTO LiveView Technologies, https://www.lvt.co
Like to Get to Know You Well
🎵Together we can cast away the fear
Together we can wipe away the tear
Together we can strip down the barriers
And be one🎵 — Howard Jones
Earlier this year I surprised my wife with tickets to see Howard Jones perform in one of my favorite venues; the Egyptian Theater in Park City, Utah. The theater is small and intimate with Howard Jones on a small stage with just his piano and his voice. It’s reminiscent of MTV’s Story Tellers where the artist tells stories about their life, inspiration for their songs, and other miscellaneous but intriguing tales that make the music come alive. Although I’ve seen Howard Jones perform live many times before, on this night I was struck by how intensely positive all of Howard Jones songs are.
Howard Jones’ songs speak of principles of positivity that often seem to be forgotten by society and especially the media. Deep down, we all know these principles:
1. Serve others
2. Be grateful
3. Be humble
4. Surround yourself with positive influences
5. Believe in a higher purpose and outcome
6. Be in charge of your thoughts and emotions
Although there are variations of these principles taught by self-help experts, they all basically boil down to these core six concepts. Isn’t it laughable how we continually forget these principles to the point that we become blind to our own contributions to societal conflicts and divisiveness?
The Pearl in the Shell
Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have similar fears and insecurities; we each have a story to tell. At our core, we fear persecution/shaming, embarrassment, and failure in the eyes of others. We are insecure about our abilities and our place in this world amongst family, friends, and others around us we don’t know. We have all had past experience(s) that have made such significant impressions on our lives that we proceed cautiously to not duplicate the experience(s) again. We have all been wronged by others; intentionally or unintentionally.
🎵Under his nose was a dream come true
Been there all the time and he almost knew
Thoughts of people in misfortune stopped him doing things well
His duty was to use it – left his pearl in the shell🎵 — Howard Jones
As a result, we have allowed ourselves to be dominated by those fears and insecurities. For some, they cower and stifle progress at the prospect of duplicating the wrongs of the past. For others, they let hate and stubbornness build up inside to the point they are blindly driven by the desire to get or keep control. Regardless of the reaction we consciously or unconsciously choose to take, we are all victims of our own creation; we leave our pearl in the shell.
Life in One Day
The late Steve Jobs once said, “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” I’ve internalized this quote to mean that the rules of life are based on the opinions of others who lived before me. There is a lot of wisdom in those rules but there is also a lot of context that needs to be understood when interpreting and applying those rules, for, as Steve Jobs pointed out, those rules were created by people no smarter than I! It is my duty to understand the “why” behind the rule, the context, the culture, the nuance. Only then do I know how to apply it, how to change it, how to teach it, or if necessary, how to eliminate it.
At some time in my past, I heard someone say, “Nobody wakes up in the morning with the intention to fail”. That saying has stuck with me ever since. Think about it. No matter how noble or deplorable the cause, nobody plans to fail in their attempt. As we look at those around us, we are all trying to do our best with what we know and the resources we have, trying not to fail along the way.
If we are all just “faking it until we make it”, then why are we allowing ourselves to live in fear and intimidation? Why do we believe we have to lose for others to win? Or, conversely, why do we believe others have to lose for us to win? With the ebbs and flows that life throws at each and every one of us, aren’t we all concurrently winning and losing in various aspects of our lives?
🎵The old man said to me
Said don’t always take life so seriously
Play the flute
And dance and sing your song🎵 — Howard Jones
Don’t take me wrong, I believe competition is a good thing. I don’t believe in participation medals and other ways modern society has found to celebrate mediocrity. I believe competition pushes us to be better, to be more resilient, to celebrate and to cry, to keep working, and to grow. Competition teaches us to be patient, to learn, to control emotions, and as the Founder of the Leadville 100 Race series Ken Chlouber so famously says, to “dig deep into that inexhaustible well of grit, guts and determination.” No, competition is not a bad thing, it is the very life blood that brings meaning and purpose to life. However, competition does not define us as winners and losers. Some days we win, some days we lose, but regardless, we are individual lives that matter, lives that should contribute toward the betterment of society as a whole, lives that teach our children to compete to better their lives and to be resilient, patient, hard working, enduring, creative and…kind.
No One is to Blame
🎵Some break the rules, and let you cut the cost
The insecurity is the thing that won’t get lost🎵 — Howard Jones
We are all hypocrites. That’s right, I said it and I’ll say it again, “WE ARE ALL HYPOCRITES!” Only… in our minds… each of us routinely justifies away our hypocrisy while simultaneously pointing the finger at others. Recently we have all seen examples of this whether it be racial, political, ideological, sexual, gender, or any of the multitude of causes out there. In our attempts to convert others to our way of thinking, whether it be for validation or power or control, we become the very bigots we argue others are. This leads to further digging in of heels by both sides where we spend more time and energy finding the fault in our supposed enemies, catching them in their words, proving them wrong; we are trying to make the other a loser so we can be a winner.
Aggressive arguing without a concerted effort to listen and understand the other’s viewpoint is an absolute waste of time. Why do we do it? Why do our politicians do it incessantly? Why do the press do it? Why do our politically extreme friends and family do it? Don’t they know that NOBODY cares what they are saying when they are not willing to listen? Folks, it’s time to take a chill pill and “Simma down na!”
Let us all remember a basic truth that has never changed since the existence of humanity; we are all different. That’s right. We have different views of the world, different likes & dislikes, different needs, different experiences, and different wants. I often jokingly tell my kids, “thats why we have menus in restaurants!” As long as we are all different we are never going to see eye to eye all the time. We are never going to be in 100% agreement. So why do we keep trying to pressure and shame each other into compliance? It has never worked nor will it ever work. So everyone… stop trying.
Lift Me Up
🎵This is a man who has lost control
Lost the road to a higher soul
Catch me from fallin’ you know I need you🎵 — Howard Jones
Let’s focus our energies on a better method: listening and compromising. Easier said than done for sure. Remember that a principle of positivity is humility. The only way we will be willing to listen to our enemy is to first be humble and willing to understand. All it takes is one participant of an argument to humble themselves and show a willingness to back down for both parties to stop arguing and actually begin finding solutions and compromise. Be that person.
We cannot establish or even maintain relationships with family, friends, or co-workers if we base those relationships on preconceived outcomes. What I mean is we can’t set an expectation on the other person, that through the various discussions we have in the relationship, that person will eventually think like me. Instead, we must be genuinely interested in that person; their individuality, beliefs, feelings, etc. even though it may not match our own. We must listen to seek understanding and not simply to respond.
🎵Nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide
Nowhere a handshake, nowhere a smile
Won’t you talk with me
Spend some time and give me life
When does a vision of heaven become a living hell🎵 — Howard Jones
Most of us have good intentions to raise awareness to the difficult issues in society, to help those who are isolated and alone. We believe that our way is the only correct way to solve the problem. However, without two-way dialogue, understanding, and compromise, our “noble” attempts to improve the lives of the minority only shift or create a new minority with the same problems. True progress can only be made when two sides truly come together to work out their differences, leaving all competition, blame, and rhetoric aside.
What is Love?
I’m not trying to be sappy and all lovey dovey. However, there has to be an element of caring to achieve true compromise. If you are so self-centered that you cannot even consider the person’s viewpoint across from you, then you’ve got some “remove-the-narcissist” work to do. Fortunately, most of us just need a simple reminder in the heat of the moment to “simma down na” and actually listen.
🎵I love you whether or not you love me
I love you even if you think that I don’t
Sometimes I find you doubt my love for you, but I don’t mind
Why should I mind, why should I mind
And maybe love is letting people be just what they want to be
The door always must be left unlocked
To love when circumstance may lead someone away from you
And not to spend the time just doubting🎵 — Howard Jones
Don’t compare your best with another’s worst and give credit where credit is due. There are a lot of great people out there doing amazing things. To think that we are the only ones who can think of good ideas, have all of the answers, or know the facts is foolish, egotistical, and narrow-minded. Instead, we should be striving to understand many view points and feelings. We should be talking about the issues and not bashing the character of specific individuals.
🎵This is a song to all of my friends
They take the challenge to their hearts
Challenging preconceived ideas
Saying goodbye to long standing fears🎵 — Howard Jones
So, let us each put our competitive nature aside and first seek to understand. Seek to love instead of destroy. This is not a competition and there do not have to be losers for each of us to win. We have control of emotions; don’t let emotion take over.
Let us be humble and grateful. By surrounding ourselves with positive influences from both sides of the conflict and serving others on both sides, we can truly start to comprehend the nuance and needs and develop a more well-rounded understanding of the situation. The old saying, “There are two sides to every story” is still relevant. We each have a story to tell… what we need now is more people willing to listen to these stories.
🎵Don’t crack up
Bend your brain
See both sides
Throw off your mental chains🎵 — Howard Jones