"It's not the waking, it's the rising…..it's not the song, it is the singing" - Nina Cried Power, by Hozier
These lyrics resonated with me on the first hearing; it is an anthem with many memorable phrases, each encouraging us to have hope and take action. Perhaps the words are indicative of our times, with so many confounding factors evident in the news each day - from scathing political ads, to the awe and destruction in wake of massive fires, to the celebration of life events splashed across social media.
It's not the waking, it's the rising.
Having hope and taking action - perhaps having faith that we can make a difference, once we decide to take action - is a way of life. We see it in noteworthy individuals - Nobel prize winners, social activists, leaders of innovation. But perhaps it's not exclusive to people with unique opportunities or those subjected to unbearable pain - perhaps the opportunity to make a difference, the opportunity to take action is within all of us, each in our own way, in our own environment. Teachers. Volunteers. Problem Solvers.
It's not the song, it's the singing.
We have a family phrase: What can I do to make the situation better. I don't really remember where and when we learned this phrase - I know it was in our early manufacturing days - but it surely stuck with us, adopting it in family and in work philosophy. It's inherent in engineering - it is the anchor in approaching the challenges of a difficult situation, and also the expectation in moving from a good solution or process to a great one. It was the inspiration for the Design of Experiments we conducted to improve our chocolate chip cookie recipe - yes, geek-centric cooking, with lots of tasting for team-based refinement. This seem trivial in impact, but the philosophy it represents is key - with local and strategic implications.
In retirement, the application of "making life better" for others, especially with those on the cusp of transformation, is what I aspire to do - but it is a challenge to connect with potential clients, with those who could use and appreciate my expertise. I will admit, there are days where I'm waking, but not always rising - at least, not with lots of vim and vigor (my mom's old phrase)! Maybe I'm still recovering from my stressful corporate job, maybe I'm not great at self-promotion in a world of social media advertising; I'm not satisfied that I'm doing all I can with my consulting business!
I am encouraged when I have the opportunity to spend time sharing thoughts on big-picture opportunities with new and old ventures, hearing stories of successful change (and failure), identifying potential process improvement - yes, even casually at a restaurant or event! I'm always encouraged by friends, family and once-removed strangers who connect with me about personal transformation in their career journey; it takes courage to consider changing your personal situation, and sometimes it takes the words of an naïve third party to crystalize the approach. It takes courage to take on change at all levels. I recently had a client tell me I was in for some challenging conversations - near impossible - and how he is dreading it; for me, this is the fun part! Working through differences, understanding opportunities, and deciding on direction to improve the situation is good work, a sound path to accomplishment, the stuff of inspiration for what is possible, what could be so much better.
As I reflect on the song, I am motivated by Hozier and his lyrics: I'm waking, I'm rising, and I'm driven to help others find their song and sing out loud with direction, enthusiasm, and purpose!
Watch Hozier and Mavis Stapleton perform on video