While working with a company which does direct marketing through infomercials, I met Steve Ober, SVP and Partner. Steve directs and produces most of their shows. His success record is far greater than anyone in the industry. Seven out of ten of his shows produce successful levels of sales. The industry average is one, or during a good year, two out of twenty.
I asked Steve why he was so successful. He said, "I am driven to win and the answers are already there. If you work hard enough, you will find them." He also said, "I know what I want because I can see it." He went on to explain that he never gives up until the show is exactly right. He said that he stays humble, and always looks for a better way before releasing his shows.
After listening to his story, I told him about a movie Martin Scorsese recently produced about the life and career of Bob Dylan. As the story is told, they cut to interviews with Bob Dylan. He comments on the various stages in his life throughout the interviews. Dylan discovered the needs and wants of his market and became the voice of his generation, while transforming American folk music from the backrooms of Greenwich Village to a global craze.
Dylan in response to the interviewer saying he was the voice of a generation commented that, "It was already there." He explained, that he noticed how people would respond positively to various aspects of singers like Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and many others. Each singer had certain things that would connect with the audience: the look in their eyes, the tone of voice, the way they picked the strings on their guitar, and combined great singing with meaningful words. What the generation wanted was already out there, but not embodied in one person.
Dylan observed what worked and then let go of the aspects of his act that were not connecting, and adopted all of the elements that were connecting with the audiences. He literally became the voice of a generation by discovering existing realities and combining his intention and creativity with the needs he noticed in his audience. It seemed simple to him. He could see the future success by observing what was happening in the moment. He truly unleashed his genius by living in what I call "Integrative Presence" and connecting with an existing intelligence, which was the flow of cause and effect in his market.
When he returned to Minnesota after only five months in New York City, which was the center of folk music at the time, he had been transformed from an okay singer to a genius. Many from Minnesota commented on what seemed to be a magical transformation. One said, "It was almost like he had sold his soul to the Devil." But, of course, he didn't; he was able to let go of what he knew, and be open to a series of insights about what was really impacting the audiences, combined it with his intention, and became the voice of a generation.
To make that transition Dylan had to let go of his past and be totally present. He even changed his last name and often says that, "it really does not matter who I was." Letting go of the past is the first step to insight and discovery of present reality.
After listening to the story, Steve Ober said, "Exactly, and that just shows what a great filmmaker Martin Scorsese is." Steve Ober and Dylan have formed the habit of allowing insight: which is as Webster's says "A clear understanding of the inner nature of some specific thing" ... which in my view is the gateway to genius.
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