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
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.
Ron Edmondson is quick to tell you that he is first and foremost a pastor. And, while that is true, he also has a strong online presence that uniquely qualifies him to talk about social media. His leadership blog is widely read, and he is active on Twitter and Facebook.
I met Ron online through Twitter, and we began discussing various leadership issues. Just north of Nashville Ron started one of the fastest growing churches in the U.S. He recently moved to Kentucky to lead another church. Before he joined the ministry, Ron was a business owner. His experiences running a small business, starting and rapidly growing organizations, and leading online were all topics I wanted to ask him in person.
In this nine-minute interview, we discuss:
The similarities and differences between leading a business and a church
How he has grown a church through the use of technology and social media
Why he was an early adopter of the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, and blogging
How he found his “blogging voice”
Mistakes he made along the way
I especially appreciated Ron’s advice to leaders who want to start building an online presence: