When you think “career advice” you immediately think “Elvis” right? 🙂
As a career coach, I see a lot of good advice, bad advice, and unlikely advice about careers. But when I was on a visit to Graceland (yes, I have been to see the King), I saw this quote and paused.
“When I was a child, I was a dreamer,
I read comic books and I was the hero in the comic book,
I saw movies and I was the hero in the movie,
So every dream I ever dreamed has come true a hundred times,….
I would like to say that,
I learn very early in life that without a song,
the day would never end,
Without a song, a man ain’t got no friend,
Without a song, the road would never bend,
Without a song, so I keep singing a song.
Goodnight.” – Elvis Presley
This was from a speech Elvis wrote himself, in acceptance of an award from a charity that he was said to have treasured for his life.
There are two things that really stand out at me from this speech, that I think are worth remembering:
1. Follow your dreams.
Simple idea? Yes. This is an incredibly simple idea. Almost too simple because the simplest ideas are the hardest ones, no?
But, the simple ideas are also the easiest to see, to hold onto, and to keep steady.
(And before you jump all over me about how “follow your dreams” is generic and sometimes pointless advice, please keep reading).
For Elvis, his dreams came true. And he did dream BIG. Sure, he was talented and tall, and looked great in a suit (less so in a jump suit, but – that may just be me. Please don’t hate me for not liking glittery plump Elvis). But no one made him walk into a music studio in the early ’50’s and pay $4 to get recorded for the first time. He believed in himself and his dream of singing, and he followed through. He probably had no idea of the level of fame and fortune that would come, or what would change in his future.
At that time, he was the only member of his fan club.
So, he invested in himself to get that dream out there, and to see where that would take him.
And because he took that risk, his life changed dramatically.
Sure, he may have gotten discovered later, or wound up on the same path down the road. We will never know. All we know is this:
He did something.
What are you doing?
2. Do what you love.
Elvis said that without a song, the day would never end.
He sang because he loved it, because it was a part of him, and because he believed in the power of singing to make his life (and other people’s lives) better. More fun. More friendly. Easier on those long days and short nights.
He did not sing because of the money, though I’m sure that was a fun side benefit that he very obviously enjoyed. He did not sing because he wanted to be powerful. He sang because he enjoyed singing.
Now, I obviously don’t know Elvis…I’ve just randomly been to his house :). So I have had to make some assumptions about him from his words. But I do know that he touched people, and that when you see him sing you can see the joy that he had being up there on stage. I’ve seen the same thing in ’80’s legend (and my personal hair hero) Jon Bon Jovi.
Who doesn’t love a little JBJ? But have you ever seen him perform live? He LOVES it. There is a certain joy that he brings that you can feel and draw from that is separate from some of the *questionable* leather clothing decisions he has made onstage. I can only imagine that watching Elvis live was the same. People LOOVED to see him sing.
Now, imagine you LOVE what you do.
Imagine that by doing what you love, you actually touch people in ways that change them. Imagine that you give them hope. Imagine that you give them comfort, or imagine that you give them a little bit of distraction from their daily lives.
You don’t have to sing from a large stage to have an impact. But (and this is the critical bit) if you aren’t doing what you love, if you aren’t singing your song, then what will happen to the people who need you?
Imagine if Elvis had not believed in himself and done *something* to follow his dream. How many lives would be different? All of the people who got joy from his singing – all of the people that he helped through charity, well- things would have been different.
It’s easy to look at Elvis towards the end and see a man in decline who had a penchant for over the top sideburns and clothes that were…not flattering. But no matter which way you look at it, he lived his dreams and he impacted lives. He did it.
If he hadn’t – who knows what might have been different.
By staying in a job you don’t love – what lives are you NOT touching? What lives are you not changing?
What could be different for you?
–>Need help with finding that thing that sets your soul on fire? Click here for a fancy-pants free workbook: The 6 Simple Steps To Find Work That Makes You Happy. Note: there may also be puppies and kittens :).