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Life Lessons from Sweet Music Man

Experiences, books, the Bible, mentors, family, articles……..and music – these are just some of the many avenues for learning valuable life lessons. Music is the one that will often take me by surprise.

I love music and typically have it on in the background. Music makes me happy. I’m not listening to it in search of an “aha moment.” But sometimes that’s exactly what happens, as when I recently heard an old Kenny Rogers song, Sweet Music Man.

In the heartfelt song, Kenny Rogers caught my attention when he sang:

You surround yourself with people who demand so little of you.

There is so much packed into this one line. It made me think of so many situations in my past. You’ll probably be able to identify with at least one of these.

A Lesson for My Children

The lyrics reminded me of a well-known saying that I’ve often told my children:

Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.

It’s so true. I believe that every relationship either pulls you towards your potential or drags you down. Friends have a huge influence, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and socially. It’s very subtle. It’s often not noticeable for quite some time. As they say, hindsight is 20-20.

The Boss Who No One Will Challenge

Have you learned that it’s easier to agree with your boss than to offer an alternative view? I know that I’ve been in that situation. As a boss, your actions teach employees whether they can disagree with you or not. They’ll learn quickly.

In some ways, Rogers wrote the song with this type of situation in mind. He was inspired to write the song after a conversation with Jessi Colter in which she shared the troubles she was having in her marriage to Waylon Jennings. Waylon was a superstar, surrounded by people who would do anything for him. No one would challenge him. His partying and infidelity were just taken as normal. No one expected better from him. No one would challenge him to be better. As a result, he sunk lower and lower.

You travel the world with a six piece band that does for you what you ask them to.

The Easy Route

Sometimes it’s just easier to spend time with friends who have little or no expectations of you. They're satisfied if you simply meet with them for an occasional happy hour. They don’t ask hard questions.

Friends with little or no expectations might seem like just what you need after a hard week. The problem comes about when your entire tribe is like this. You wake up one day and realize that your greatest influencers aren’t influencing you to do anything positive. Over time, it takes its toll.

People don’t achieve their highest potential on their own. It takes a tribe.

Being the Encourager

The word “demand” is included in Roger’s lyrics.

You surround yourself with people who demand so little of you.

I like the word “encourage” better. I know that I struggle with this as a mom, manager, and friend. The easy thing is to lecture or demand. It takes longer to lead and encourage than it does to lecture. However, it leads to significantly better relationships and results. Good things take time. We could all use more encouragers in our life. I could.

Great Quote

"Surround yourself with people who push you to do and be better. No drama or negativity, just higher goals and positive energy. No jealousy or hate. Simply bringing out the absolute best in each other.'' - Warren Buffett

Take Aways

  • Be an encourager.

  • Teach your employees (or children) that it’s alright to share different perspectives. It’s far better to know what they’re thinking than to deal with passive aggressive behavior.

  • Surround yourself with people who expect the best from you.

  • If you’ve never heard Sweet Music Man, I suggest you look it up and listen. It’s a beautiful song for many reasons and maybe it will get you thinking as it did for me. (Links below.)

Little Big Town’s Version (as a tribute to Kenny Rogers)


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