A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall

Empathy Growth mindset Respect


“Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son

And where have you been, my darling young one 

I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains 

I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways…”

– Dylan

Key Point: Confidence is a vital emotion and mindset in business and all parts of our life. I believe that learning how to navigate our personal failures and frequent stumbles is an important skill in building that confidence. Somewhat paradoxically, if we learn how to honestly accept these imperfect moments with humility and curiosity (minus wasteful self-blame), it will help us thrive, build an authentic confidence that will further attract us to others, and help us do better work. 

The following is from one of The New Yorker’s most popular blogs of 2016. It is by the famous, now 70-year-old punk rocker Patti Smith; a self-reflection on her “failed” performance at the very prestigious 2016 Nobel Prize ceremony. Smith accepted the Nobel Laureate in Literature on behalf of Bob Dylan, by singing one of his most iconic songs.

“’A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ is a song that resonates particularly strongly in—as chairman of the board of the Nobel Foundation Carl-Henrik Heldin said during the Nobel ceremony—‘times like these.’” That was the introduction to Patti Smith. Next is the excerpt from her New Yorker blog:

“And then suddenly it was time. The orchestra was arranged on the balcony overlooking the stage, where the King, the royal family, and the laureates were seated. I sat next to the conductor… Then Bob Dylan was announced as the Nobel Laureate in Literature, and I felt my heart pounding. After a moving speech dedicated to him was read, I heard my name spoken and I rose. As if in a fairy tale, I stood before the Swedish King and Queen and some of the great minds of the world, armed with a song in which every line encoded the experience and resilience of the poet who penned them. The opening chords of the song were introduced, and I heard myself singing. The first verse was passable, a bit shaky, but I was certain I would settle. But instead I was struck with a plethora of emotions, avalanching with such intensity that I was unable to negotiate them… Unaccustomed to such an overwhelming case of nerves, I was unable to continue. I hadn’t forgotten the words that were now a part of me. I was simply unable to draw them out.”

I’d encourage you to watch Smith’s performance in the attached video. This is the moment that poignantly demonstrates how stumbling eventually, although somewhat painfully, contributes to a more confident and authentic stride. 

Smith goes on saying, “When I arose the next morning, it was snowing. In the breakfast room, I was greeted by many of the Nobel scientists. They showed appreciation for my very public struggle. They told me I did a good job. ‘I wish I would have done better,’ I said. ‘No, no,’ they replied, ‘none of us wish that.’ For us, your performance seemed a metaphor for our own struggles. Words of kindness continued through the day, and in the end I had to come to terms with the truer nature of my duty. Why do we commit our work? Why do we perform? It is above all for the entertainment and transformation of the people. It is all for them. The song asked for nothing. The creator of the song asked for nothing. So why should I ask for anything?”

And this is my bridge to the previous “New Years” blog on risk taking, moving forward and creating your own path. Take that stage. Sing that song. 

Character Moves:

  1. In 2017, perhaps the same day you read this blog, there will be a personal, imperfect stumbling. We are all very likely to have our “Patti Smith” moments, (although probably not in the same spectacular fashion). If we accept and have the ability with humility to be curious about what happened, we will develop more genuine confidence.
  1. The “patina” from scars, scratches, and nicks makes us more interesting and frankly even beautiful. Why rob ourselves of those moments? We need to put ourselves out there on the stage. As Smith says, it’s the true nature of our work. We all struggle. “Why should we ask for more?”
  1. I believe confidence is most reflected in the tree trunk, branches, leaves and all that’s above the ground. The strength and depth of the roots, however, comes from the learning, curiosity and self-understanding from our struggles, failures and imperfection. And all that’s above and below the ground needs some of that hard rain. 

Lovin’ The Hard Rain in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: Patti Smith, Mariah Carey, Ronda Rousey… Just three giant names that come to mind with headline making “fails” in the days before 2017. As terrible as the backlashes may be, hopefully they can have the confidence to remember that they accomplished climbing on stages a lot taller than most of their critics’ soapboxes.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Breathe Fire in 2017

Accountability Personal leadership Purpose


Key Point: You are probably already sick and tired of New Years resolution advice. I was going to skip even writing about it this year and then thought just a little different angle from a “fire” leadership perspective might inspire us differently. So here is my premise:

The biggest leadership impact to you in 2017 will come from… YOU! You’ve read my motto that people deserve great leaders and leaders have a responsibility to be great (not perfect). Well, you deserve to reflect on being a great and not perfect leader for yourself too. I like Umair Haque’s thoughts on leadership:

“The job of a leader is indeed to inspire people — but in the truer sense of the word: from the Latin inspirare, inspire, to breathe or blow into. Leaders breathe life into the organizations they lead, into the people they’re responsible for. They breathe life into possibilities. They make it more possible for the rest of us to dare, imagine, create, and build. They do not merely encourage us to do so; theirs is the hard work of crafting all the incentives, processes, systems, and roles that actually empower us to do so.” 

What if we took some very thoughtful time, real “white space,” before 2017 roars off into hyper busyness? Pause for a meaningful moment (quiet time just for you) and ask yourself how you might BREATHE MORE LIFE INTO POSSIBILITIES just for YOU!

  1. What really inspires you? What breathes life and the excitement of possibilities into you? Who around helps you feel like that?
  1. What do you care about deeply? What dares you to imagine? What puts you into a sense of timeless flow when you daydream or work on it? Makes you want to “create and build?”
  1. What are the biggest, most bold opportunities in front of you right now? What are your biggest fears and how real are they?
  1. If you had NO limitations what would you be creating right now? How real are those limitations?
  1. Who around you can you co-create with? Who do you hang with that will encourage you? Nudge you? Give you authentic feedback? 

Haque goes onto say: “Leadership is in an uncertain place. We long desperately for better leaders. But perhaps it is precisely our longing that’s the problem. We’re waiting for a rescue at the cost of our own redemption. Because it’s easier to complain about the leaders we have than to try to do better. After all, it’s a pretty hard job.” 

So when 2017 ends, will it just be another groundhog day for you? Will you be waiting desperately for someone to rescue you? Of course external events will have an impact and cause you to do something differently. However, how much forward movement will happen because YOU breathed more life into you? Do NOT let another year go by saying, “if only I ____. Why didn’t I?” Remember reading that real estate magazine x years ago when you could have bought? And you see the appreciation now and say, “if only I’d bought then?” Well that’s you and me right now. Invest in you – the best investment there is.

Character Moves:

Before you commit to the moves below, please invest in some serious thinking time. Pause! Thomas Friedman, the great author and investigative journalist points out that pausing makes machines stop while propelling humans forward. 

  1. Have the discipline to outline a vital few of the most important goals to you this year.
  2. Outline some meaningful steps that will put you on the path. Experiment. Start with a viable next step or two. Build from there.
  3. Establish some verifiable milestones along the way. Celebrate progress. Ask people to co-create and help you. We need to lead ourselves and yet most of us accelerate better with help from others.
  4. Adjust along the way. Do not blame yourself when you feel like you’ve stalled. Have the grit to amend, pick yourself up and keep going. 

What kind of leadership will you give yourself in 2017?

Breathe fire in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: As we all get ready to push the pedal down and start Q1 with a vengeance, I think this reminder to breathe and recollect is important. It seems popular to scoff at resolutions… But, here’s what I know: I certainly don’t want to be standing in the same place on Jan. 1, 2018, and that’s entirely up to me. 

– Garrett