Sam Phillips (former CEO of Sun Records back in the day) gave Johnny Cash the gift of Pascal’s favorite four words – I believe in you. When Johnny was trying to make his first record, Sam stopped him in his tracks and asked him if he had something else. Johnny got upset and heated. Normal. Sam stood his ground and simply said, “I don’t believe you.” In essence he challenged Johnny to sing his own tune instead of that Jimmy Davis cover. So, Johnny walked the line and the rest is musical history.
I’m currently reading Ryan Holiday’s latest rant titled Perennial Seller. It’s a quick, worthy read if you’re trying to create a masterpiece in your work/life. On page 72 he records another conversation between creators, this time it’s Rick Rubin and Adele. We’ll pick it up mid page, “After Adele finished preparing and writing the demos for the follow-up album to her record breaking 21, she reached out to her producer, Rick Rubin, to let him know she thought she was ready to begin the final step of recording. He listened to her quietly and had just one reply: “I don’t believe you.” As Adele later told Rolling Stone, “When he said it, I couldn’t work out if I was, like, devasted, going to cry my eyes out. And then I just said, ‘I don’t really believe myself right now, so I’m not surprised you *ucking said that.'”
She went back to the studio and got to work furthering her belief, mastering her craft, doing the work within, and slowly refining the album. It would take 2 more years of work to complete the work titled 25. Her fans (Grappy being one of ’em) bought it up at a never before seen pace. 3.4 million copies sold in the first week alone. Good.
Leader, you do your team no favors when you hold back on hitting ’em with the truth, especially the truth in Love. Sometimes they need to hear the words, “I believe in you,” and sometimes they need to hear the challenging words, “I don’t believe you.” Some of us struggle speaking truth to those we love, some of us struggle speaking truth to those we loathe. Leaders got to learn to speak truth in Love before it turns into truth in anger. Today, in practice 33 with a team of high performers, a bit more truth was spoke. Some in love, some not so much. We’re getting better at challenging out of belief vs. frustration. We have a ways to go. We are learning to measure our progress, not by how far we have to go, but by how far we’ve come. We’re measuring progress by looking backward. And, we’re learning to wait less when we see more is possible. We’re telling each other what we want instead of wishing they’d just start showing up singing away.
This same learning applies at home. Sam was actually loving Johnny when he told him he didn’t believe him. Your team in work/life needs you to give them more truth, friend. You’re gonna have to figure out how to deliver the message. Sometimes belief, sometimes not. Good…