A couple of weeks ago I celebrated my anniversary by taking my wife to see one of her favorite musicians – Kenny G. Now, I have to be honest, I was dreading the event. It was a surprise and I was doing this solely as a gift to my lovely wife. I was willing to suffer and endure anything to make her happy! Okay, so I’m laying it on a little thick here, but suffice it to say, I was thinking about what it would be like to listen to two and a half hours of saxophone! I mean I was seriously considering smuggling in a radio and an earpiece so I could listen to the radio (of course I would have placed the earpiece on the side away from my wife)!
But I didn’t. I went and decided to “make the most of it.”
Now there are a couple of lessons I learned. First of all, don’t judge a book by its cover. Sure enough, we get in there and I’m looking the crowd over and thinking “Yep, this is going to be a tame crowd.” You have to understand, this concert was being promoted by a radio station that calls itself (insert deep, breathy voice here) “Smooth Jazz.” Wrong! They were whooping and hollering. It was a pretty lively crowd.
The second thing I learned was that this was completely a great concert! I thoroughly enjoyed myself and would highly recommend that you go if he is ever in your area. See, we never stop learning, do we?
Ever the person looking for success lessons, it was easy to get the first one. Kenny G is obviously an extremely talented individual who is reaping the reward of countless hours of diligent practice. That is a lesson for all of us.
But the greatest lesson I learned that night came at a moment most people probably overlooked. I call this lesson the “Success, Opportunity, Carl and Kenny G” lesson of success.
About midway through the concert Kenny G began introducing his band. He started with his piano player who has been with him since high school. Next, he introduces the keyboard player, Carl. Kenny G explains that Carl is the newest member of the band. He has been with them for only two years. Before that, for nine years, he was the guy who set up the piano and keyboards for the piano player! No one even knew that Carl could play the piano. They simply thought he was an electronics and sound wizard.
One day, after everything had been set up at a concert, the rest of the band left to get ready for the show but Kenny G stayed behind to work through some parts for that night. Suddenly he hears the piano and keyboards behind him and assumes it is his piano player so he keeps playing along. When he decides to ask a question, he turns around to find – Carl the sound guy! So Kenny G says, “You know how to play the piano?”
“Every chord of every song you do, all the way through the concert,” replies Carl.
So Kenny G auditions him right there and guess what? Carl is now a part of the band! Kenny G also noted that Carl’s pay increased 8000 percent! Officially now, Carl is my new hero!
What did I learn from that about successful people? A few things:
One, humbly perform the duties you currently have. Nine years Carl worked at a job that isn’t known for its high esteem. Thankless, long hours and low pay come to mind. But with humility, Carl did his job with pride. That is a lesson for all of us.
Two, constantly work hard to increase your ability, even when it isn’t being rewarded. While you are going about a low level job, work hard all of the time to get better and smarter. Become more highly skilled. Work at it more than anyone else. If Carl had given up playing because he thought he was as high as he would go, he could have never stepped to the plate and hit that home run that changed his life!
Three, when your door of opportunity opens, walk boldly through it! It will happen. There will be a time when the door of opportunity swings widely open for you. The only question is whether you will be prepared and bold enough to walk through it successfully. You have to be good enough to deliver, and bold enough to try. Are you?
In review, here are the lessons I learned from Carl and Kenny G:
- Don’t judge a book by its cover.
- Two and a half hours of saxophone isn’t so bad.
- People who listen to “smooth jazz” can holler too!
- You can find success stories anywhere, even at a Kenny G concert.
- Humbly perform the duties you currently have.
- Constantly work hard to increase your ability, even when it isn’t being rewarded.
- When your door of opportunity opens, walk boldly through it!