Lessons from Billy Joel’s “Turn the Lights Back On”


Finding Light in Leadership

Billy Joel’s music is a constant backdrop to my childhood memories. Visiting family, I can remember how my Aunt Dawn would play “I’m Moving Out!” at full volume, a way of sending a clear but playful message. My mind can conjure up the distinctive sound of shattering glass opening the “Glass Houses” album and put me back in time. I was at my friend’s house when that album released and we listened to the entire thing without saying a word.

Billy Joel’s music ranges from emotional ballads to upbeat tunes that demanded you sing along. His songs had this magical ability to create moments that felt both deeply personal and universally shared at the same time. It wasn’t just the music. It was the memories attached to each song. It seemed a perfect way to capture the essence of life’s ups and downs. Seeing my daughter grow up with the same love for his music has been a full-circle moment. His songs have bridged several generations.

And now, after nearly 17 years since his last release, Billy Joel surprised the world with a new song, “Turn the Lights Back On.” It feels almost like a gift, not just for fans like myself who have followed his career for decades but for a new generation to discover and cherish. This new song is amazing, capturing the essence of what has always made his music resonate so deeply. It’s as if no time has passed, yet everything has changed. Joel’s ability to craft songs that speak to the human experience puts him right back on the top of the charts.

In his new song, Billy Joel cleverly intertwines a reflective question, “Did I wait too long…to turn the lights back on?” This line not only serves as a poignant moment within the song itself but also acts as a meta-commentary. Joel poses this question and it invites listeners to ponder the timing of his song’s release. It’s a masterful way of connecting the song’s narrative with his own career, engaging fans in a conversation about timing, anticipation, and the act of making a comeback.

For me, “Turn the Lights Back On” also captures the essence of reflection and reconciliation. And the lyrics offer timeless lessons for leaders everywhere.

Let’s dive into how this melody can inspire leadership growth.


The Power of Acknowledgment

Joel’s narrative begins with a realization. And this is always the start of professional and personal growth. Acknowledging where you’ve been, the mistakes made, and the silence that might have crept into relationships – be it with colleagues, friends, or family – is the first step towards change.



The Journey of Reconciliation

The song delves into the heart of reconciliation, emphasizing it’s never too late to mend broken bridges. As leaders, the courage to admit “I was wrong” can turn the tide.




The Art of Seeing

Perhaps the most striking theme is the journey from blindness to sight. Joel metaphorically discusses the blindness caused by time and familiarity. It urges leaders to see their team, and their strategy, in a new way. This fresh perspective can reignite passion and uncover potential previously overlooked.



The Question of Timing

The recurring question in the lyrics, “Did I wait too long?” is a powerful reminder for leaders. Time is of the essence. The best moment to act, to change, or to speak up…is now. Procrastination can dim the brightest of lights in any project or relationship.



The Commitment to Persist

Joel’s lyrics touch on persistence. The refusal to give up on a person, a dream, or a goal, even when faced with indifference or challenges, marks a true leader. This unwavering belief in potential drives teams towards success.



By acknowledging past mistakes, seeking reconciliation, adopting new perspectives, acting in a timely way, and persisting against challenges, leaders can turn the lights back on in any situation.


Sometimes all it takes is the courage to turn the lights back on.


Don’t wait for someone else to do it. The switch is within your reach. Turn the lights back on.





Image Credit: Dolo Iglesias


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