I wasn’t going to blog today and then Craig got in touch. I’ve known Craig Althof for a couple of years after connecting over at David Zinger’s excellent Employee Engagement network. Music is one of the things we have in common and I hope to meet Craig one day and share a few songs and maybe a beer too. Given I’ll be pulling on a guitar and singing for some good people very soon I think this musical perspective is very timely. Take it away Craig, and thanks so much for your timely offer:

“Engagement has everything to do with connecting. This is relevant to “the Greater Good” to which I have a deep, personal connection. I play a little music on the side, with a couple of good friends. We’ve played anywhere from horse barns to islands to state fairs. Think (very) poor man’s Crosby, Stills and Nash only a little more eclectic. We take on anything from Prine to Motown, showing each the same level of disrespect as we spin them our own way. There and Back Again. OK, I’ll admit we’re pretty good even though that’s being mildly prejudiced.

We’re thankfully past having to make a great deal of money playing music, so we do a lot of events that are along the “greater good” lines…nursing homes, benefits etc. This past Veterans Day we were part of a tribute that included some extremely engaging food. While we were enjoying our pay for the day afterwards, a Navy vet with a WW II hat came over to visit with us. One of my music partners is involved in a project for which he informally video interviews veterans, capturing their raw recounts of their experiences and their lives in general on video. He mentioned the project to our new friend, who thought a moment before replying “well, I don’t have a whole lot to talk about.” Famous First Words.

We spent the next 45 minutes connecting with this man who survived Pearl Harbor, saw several of his good friends go down, and in the process I hope we helped him connect back to his life. We were all deeply humbled at this meek man’s greatness. Same event, different story. My partner had finished a song that morning he called “I’ve Got Wheels” that he wanted to do as a tribute to vets. A quick synopsis….young boy gets his first tricyle, refrain “Look at me, dad…I’ve got wheels.” As a teenager he gets his first car, same refrain. A few years later the young man goes off to war, comes back and de-planes …his first words to his dad were, you guessed it.

I have a couple of songs that can really hit me as I’m singing them, and on occasion I’ve struggled to get through them. But my partner absolutely and completely choked up and had to stop halfway through the first verse, which was “only” the little boy taking his first spin on his new tricycle. Talking with him afterwards, he said he was so emotionally connected and the visual was so vivid he couldn’t continue. And this was not based on a personal experience, it was simply a story he wanted to tell.

This is an example of an external event or stimulus, magnified by an intense emotional connection. Maybe too intense to be relevant for workplace engagement? But how powerful would it be if we could be driven by even a small fraction of that level of connection, at work or any other activity, or in our lives?”

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

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