You don’t have to be from Nashville to appreciate country music or its rich history—and you certainly don’t have to be from there to understand the impact of the Man in Black on music and American culture.
Of the many things that I learned in studying the life of Johnny Cash, I want to share three that had an impact on me well beyond his music:
1. Pursue your dream.
When he was about four years old, he heard a song on a Victrola. Immediately, he knew that singing on the radio was his goal. Nothing could stop his determination to make that dream a reality.
Lesson: Make sure your dream is big enough to inspire you through difficulties.
“Success is having to worry about every damn thing in the world, except money.” –Johnny Cash
He was the master of style. Almost always appearing in black, he communicated a style and a message with consistency and power. Everything about him from his voice, his music, his personality and his dress communicated a unique brand.
Lesson: Imitating others may help you get started, but real power comes from cultivating your own unique giftedness.
“My arms are too short to box with God.” –Johnny Cash
Every business wants to develop a stellar reputation. Over time, that positive sentiment not only earns repeat business, but also eventually earns trust. Customer service is vitally important to establish and grow that trust. Every interaction with you or your brand offers the incredible opportunity to build a relationship and fortify your position.
In the social media age, your business reputation can catapult you to a beloved partner or sink you to nothing in almost no time flat.
Recently, I was visiting Nashville and met Jimmy at an event to raise money for the Salvation Army.
Saved By Love
Do you know how this country music star got his first guitar? If you have participated in the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program, you will have the answer. That anonymous gift was the beginning of a musical journey. Each year children in need fill out angel tags containing gift wishes and place them on a tree. Jimmy received his first guitar through this program. You can make a dream come true by helping others through the Salvation Army’s program.
After reading his compelling story and speaking with him, I thought about 7 lessons Jimmy Wayne taught me about giving and sharing.
Jimmy taught me to:
1. Give the gift of encouragement.
As a homeless teenager, Jimmy befriended an elderly couple, who took him in. When he speaks of this couple, and the words of love and appreciation they expressed to him, you will be reminded of the power of encouragement. Contrast that to the words spoken by a prison guard; words that, to this day, still seem to haunt him.
Use every opportunity to encourage others with words of love and appreciation.
Even if you can’t recite the first verse, I’m certain that you know the chorus.
Read this and I’m sure your mind will start hearing the song. Warning: It may stay with you for the rest of the day.
Here are the first four lines of the chorus:
And I’m proud to be an American,
Where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died,
Who gave that right to me.
In your head, isn’t it?
For those of us in the United States, it’s one of the most powerful, patriotic songs ever. Whatever your background and whatever your political party, you likely are swept by the emotion of the song and its sentiment.
It was written years ago by Lee Greenwood. He has since sung that song all over the world. For Presidents. In stadiums. On a plane’s intercom flying over the World Trade Center site. In dangerous situations around the world.