The Things We Think But Do Not Say: The Future of Our Business

I'm in the midst of working on a humongous project that is scary and exciting. I'm taking a break to write a blog post, and thereby the blog post will actually become part of the project, and then the post (this post) will become a story about that process (kind of like the Land o' Lakes butter thing). But I'll try not to get too meta - what I really mean is, I just want to be honest. Transparent.

The title of this post is the title of Jerry Maguire's manifesto in the 1996 film of the same name. When I'm writing copy, for a brochure, a website, or any kind of business-related thing I tend to write boring, awkward, hype-y prose that would not be out of place in the newsletter I used to write for my college dorm when I was an R.A., the Cumberland Crier ("We're the coolest dorm in the Stewart Quad because we have all of the freshman ice hockey players living here! [Actually, totally uncool if you're an R.A. - they won the championship that year and raised holy hell when they got home, triumphant, at 2 A.M., and none of us got any sleep]."

Risky business.In other words, I write safe, unremarkable, salesy copy on the first pass. But then, if I have enough caffeine, guts, and time, I have my Jerry Maguire moment - the point at which the real truth of what I want to say starts to emerge. I start to get at the authenticity underneath what is certainly true but would be meaningless if I didn't dig any deeper.

The digging gets much easier the deeper I go. I start to get bold - I start to become me. I start to remember how Eclectic Music came to exist in the first place, and why it's grown, and where we want to go.

The humongous project is that we're opening a new facility, in Ansley Park, and launching new programs starting in January that are a new direction for us: group classes. It's so big that at first I could only list off all the classes - features, not benefits. Dull facts. But now I'm starting to find some life there, uncovering what is special about what we're doing. After weeks of confusion, I have some precious clarity.

Ready.The dream: Eclectic Music will be a place where people of all ages, from infants to adults, can connect with music in a way that is meaningful to them. I want it to be a place where you don't have to be "talented" to participate. I want it to be a place that encourages authenticity, community, and self-expression. A place where there's always something cool going on. A place that doesn't just attract noteworthy people but actually creates them.

In the past, we've had lots of private lessons and performance events, but the thing that has been missing is encouraging people to make music together. It's been too difficult logistically to do more than one-off workshops and jam sessions. But now, these new group classes for kids and adults, plus a preschool program that lets kids play in a musical environment for hours every day, plus the right physical environment, will make that possible.

See what I mean? Jerry Maguire. I can see why there are layers of crap on top of this sunny postcard from the future, and why it has to fight to get out. Sharing this passion, this vision, is scary. People can pick it apart. They can steal my ideas. They can criticize and mock. They can confront me in six months and ask my why it hasn't happened yet. Or worse - they can not care, and our beautiful new home will be an empty, expensive shell.

Writing all this is my way of flicking on the light to make the nightmares flee. If I acknowledge what I'm scared of, I can work through it.

Guts.While this might all seem like navel-gazing, it's really not: I'm the one who has the vision, and I'm the one who has to sell it.

I have some truly wonderful people working alongside me to make the vision come true, but I am the leader: I need my passion to come through so it won't sound like some faceless corporation.

Writing this post has helped me to get some clarity on how to make that happen. I hope it has been worth reading for you - maybe you are thinking about something in your own life that's caked up with fear disguised as boredom. Maybe you have been where I am and have already worked through to the other side.

That real, fearless, human voice is so hard to find. Right now, in this moment, it's here, and it's exhilarating.