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I spent the better part of my lunch hour yesterday going over old footage and stories of Prince. From the time he appeared on stage with Michael Jackson and James Brown (and stole the show) to his extended performance on Saturday Night Live to his unbelievable guitar solo that was a part of George Harrison’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There was even one piece of footage that my friend Anthony shared with me where filmmaker Kevin Smith spoke about the time Prince wanted him to work on a documentary with him.
But the one piece of footage that stood out to me was the story of Prince’s halftime performance at Super Bowl 41.
It was raining on that day. A really hard rain. Now, football is an all-weather sport so that wouldn’t be a problem for the players – but it is more of a problem for a concert. But Prince didn’t just perform that day. Prince knocked it out of the park. He gave what was widely considered to be one of the best halftime show ever. It was a masterfully orchestrated show, culminating with a very appropriate song – one of his hits — Purple Rain.
So what does this have to do with productivity? Well, more than you would probably think.
We tend to take on the approaches and habits of others when we are trying to get things done. And when we do this, we can lose sight of the personal aspect of productivity. While we can work as a team to reach a common objective, how each of us works to get there is pretty subjective. If you want to be really productive – which means moving the things forward that you really want to move forward so that you can have a fulfilling life – then you need to infuse your productivity with as much of your own personality as possible. Prince did that with music and the results were astounding. If you take a page out of his book you may surprise yourself with the results you can achieve.
If you want to do things differently so that you can achieve incredible results but you’re afraid to take that step, just make it a small step. Be the person in your office that blocks off part of your day for focused work. Shift the way you communicate at the office so that internal communication happens through one platform like Slack and then external communication happens through email. Figure out which modes serve you best for different types of work that you need to do and use them as your guides, rather than the calendar or the clock.
Do any or all of those things – or do something that is distinctly yours — and then deliver a winning performance as a result of implementing those changes. Not everything is going to be a hit, but you won’t have any hits unless you give it a try.
Life is short. Prince lived to be just 57 years old. Yet look at everything he did in that lifespan. That’s because he lived by the adage that “Time is a mind construct. It’s not real.” I think time is definitely a “created thing” (as Lao Tsu said), so the key is to not worry about the time we have but to invest it wisely while we have it.