News Columns & Blogs

It’s time for us to get back to basics

Things change. Yes, I agree that change can be good, but sometimes I’m not so sure. Sometimes we change, but maybe it’s just because we’ve become misguided and don’t even realize it. It is like the boiling frog theory ... as the theory goes, if you put a frog in boiling water, the frog will try to get out as quickly as possible. But, if you put a frog in room temperature water and slowly boil it, the frog does not know it is even happening and never has that panicked reaction.

Now, I didn’t come up with that theory, but I think it is applicable to humans as well. Sometimes, without knowing, we begin to change. We get off track and lose who we are. This doesn’t always have to be bad, but we need someone or something to remind us and jolt us back.

I know that this is happening to me right now. So, in essence, I was placed in room temperature water and I am fully aware of the fact that it is getting warmer, but I am still sticking around.

The whole reason I wrote and started Every Monday Matters is because I wanted to make a difference. Whenever I went out and picked up litter, fed the homeless, painted over graffiti or whatever else I did to make a difference, I knew I was right where I was supposed to be. It became my favorite time of the week. A time to get out of my head and just give of myself to other people. It literally changed my life.

The interesting part is that now Every Monday Matters has gotten so big that I have changed. Between our corporate social responsibility program, our school curriculum, speaking engagements, events, column writing and more, I have found myself in a place of not having enough time to go out and do the exact things that inspired this whole effort. And, I miss it.

It isn’t all bad, because I know we have inspired thousands of people to get more involved in making a difference, but I find myself craving the exact thing that I now get paid to share. That “you matter.” That “you can change the world.” It is an interesting dynamic. And, somehow, I need to get back to the basics. Back to my roots of waking up every Saturday morning and hitting the streets to make a difference. And I will.

Last night, I had an hour-long conversation with a friend of mine who is an amazing musician. And, having worked in the music business for so many years, it was not the first time I have had this exact conversation. He absolutely is one of the most talented vocalists and melody writers I have ever met. Very few musicians have the ability to completely engulf an audience with just an acoustic guitar and their voice. He would sing circles around the contestants on “American Idol.” It is just a totally different level of talent. Truly, a God-given gift.

He has made a living as a song writer and producer, and has written songs we all hear on the radio — even for some of our “American Idols.” But now he wants to become more of a performer himself and have a career as an artist on stage, as opposed to behind the music.

The blessing and the curse for him is that he has been “in the business” for many years and knows all of the “right” people. So, he finds himself constantly in the studio recording his own album and trying to put together the perfect package that he can give to all of those “right” people. I am not saying this is the worst approach, but it definitely ignores the other side of the coin, the side that has to do with the roots of what music is all about. He has a gift that he needs to start sharing now.

So this is what I told him. “You don’t need the perfect website, the perfect studio album, or the best manager ... you just need to play. Get on stage, play your guitar, sing at the top of your lungs and share this incredible talent with the world. Then watch what happens. Watch the buzz begin ... one e-mail address at a time. Watch the friends on Facebook start to climb and the Tweets start to spread. Don’t keep your gift silent as the business stuff gets in the way. Go be the artist you set out to be and trust that everything else will fall into place.”

As I thought more about this, I realized how much the same advice applies to me ... and most people for that matter. Sometimes we lose sight of whom we are and where we want to go. What was the initial inspiration? Why did we get involved? Why do we do what we do? We can’t let the desire for the fast track be the precise thing that gets us off track. We have to get back to just being ourselves ... for all the pure and right reasons.

Sometimes, we just need to check in with ourselves to make sure we aren’t slowly boiling and forgetting the purpose and passion behind who we are. So, jump out of the warm water this week and get back to your roots. To your core. Only you know what that is ... so take a few minutes to revisit it and get back to the basics.