Unless you have been under a turnip plant the past few days, you have heard of Purple Rain recently more times than you like to count. You have seen all manner of things become purple, and the song Purple Rain is bound to be ringing in your ears. And it does not matter if you knew of Prince and Purple Rain before the past few days. He, Prince, and it, Purple Rain, is imbedded in your mind now. As I write this post, the song Purple Rain is ringing in my ears. And I did not even know of the song before Prince died, and I could not have even told you much about Prince, or if he was even alive. Given how famous and talented he was, I am embarrassed to admit that, but it is true. Given the outpouring of admiration, love, and esteem, it seems that I may be one of the few that did not have an attachment to Prince. His passing, and the worldwide connection to him has me thinking, how does one garner such amazing hero worship? A few thoughts come to mind, and the implications for the rest of us are pretty clear.
First there is the issue of talent. Prince was obviously very talented. He played to his strengths, and there were many. But it wasn’t just his talent, it was his commitment to perfect his craft. That took dedication, practice, and commitment. The examples of his talent will live on long after he is gone. How about us? Are we playing to our strengths, and are we dedicated and committed to do all that it takes to perfect our craft?
Then there is the issue of the people who surrounded him. Prince had an entourage of people who worshiped him and helped him, and in so doing, were a big part of his success. While it seems that he was really more of a loner, he apparently understood that one needs others to be really successful, and he did as much of that as was necessary. How about us? Do we have that army of people who believe in us and who are committed to us and our success? If we need work in this area, what do we need to do to develop that connection?
Then there is the issue of uniqueness. Prince was definitely unique. How he dressed was extremely unique, including the wearing of heels that resulted in much pain. All that he did is another example of his uniqueness. Prince wasn’t just a great entertainer. He also wrote songs that others recorded and made famous. Since his death many have been surprised that some of the songs they love that other singers made famous were written by Prince. Which brings to mind the question, what is our uniqueness? What do we do that sets us apart? Is there any surprise talent that may be discovered when we are gone? Do we have any unique talent that others automatically think of when they think of us?
We do not know the whole story of Prince’s death, but we can assume that there will be some revelations that are discovered once the autopsy results are known, and the will or trust details, or lack of them, are made public. As much as people revel in Prince’s success, there will be at least as many ready to pounce on the negatives that may be made public. Such is the nature of people. But until that time, and hopefully after that, I hope we can learn from Prince what we can do to be more successful.
What is our talent? What is so natural to us that we do it without even thinking? When others think of us, what images come to mind, and what words are used to describe us? Therein probably lies our talent.
Are we connected to people who can help us be successful, and us them? How are we with the issue of reciprocity? Are we more committed to connecting with others for mutual benefit than we are to networking for our own gain? There is a profound difference in connecting and networking.
And finally, what is our uniqueness? Sometimes it isn’t what we do, but how we do it that makes us unique. I am reminded of my college history professor, Norman Graebner, who was my first role model of professional speaking. Dr. Graebner made history come alive for 600+ students in his history class at the University of Virginia. He stood before the class and spoke (never reading from notes) the entire class period, reciting the stories of history, making history come alive. And there was absolutely no death by PowerPoint!
RIP Dr. Graebner, who died in 2010 at the age of 94. And RIP Prince, who died at a much younger age. As Abraham Lincoln said, “In the end, It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”