THIS week I had the good fortune to watch two concerts in Innsbruck while on “home” vacation with my Austrian wife.
The first was the legendary Bob Dylan. And a couple of days later, I saw another one of my music idols, the amazing John McLaughlin.
The concerts were fantastic, and they were both so different. Dylan was at the Olympiahalle that holds 10,000 spectators, and McLaughlin, was at the intimate 600-seat Treibhaus.
There was one similarity, though. Both Dylan and McLaughlin are in their late seventies.
Both musicians performed for almost two hours, and they did it with an abundance of energy, and passion. And, their appeal was cross-generational. I thought they would attract only a certain age group. But that wasn’t the case at all. The concert-goers ranged from teenagers to octogenarians.
I was really astounded by what motivated people like Dylan and McLaughlin to carry on into their late seventies with grueling schedules and energy sapping performances.
Surely, having achieved so much success, their motivation cannot be purely monetary?
At a time when most people I coach and train in the corporate world, exhibit a lack of ambition as they get older, and have a reduced interest in their vocations, these two guys show no desire to slow-down.
In 2013, a study by the US based Families and Work Institute found that people begin losing interest in getting promoted or taking on bigger responsibilities at work after the age of 35.
Some of this is attributed to having children, as well as changing priorities. It seems that we all undergo a phenomenon called the “U-Bend” of life.
As you begin your life, you get excited about work and what the future holds. As you age, for different reasons, you will tend to get happier when you feel that you are wiser, have a sense of accomplishment, and you also will care less about pleasing people.
I know that this is true for me as someone fast approaching the half-century mark. My sense of success is so different today, in comparison to twenty years ago. And while I still endeavour to please the people I serve and love, people do not get under my skin, as easily as I allowed it to happen before.
When I saw Dylan and McLaughlin, it occurred to me that both of them were vested in their own happiness, as much as wanting to make the audience enjoy their music. They looked like they were having so much fun performing for us.
The happiness factor has very real implications on your ability to produce results.
In their book “The Progress Principle”, academics Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, found that employees have better ideas and are more creative on days when they felt happier. Their real-time data shows that against conventional wisdom, people do not perform under pressure. Instead, they perform best when they are happily engaged in what they do.
I also know this to be true, with my partner in the landscape business I co-own in Austria.
Roman Pirchheim, my business partner and good friend is fifty five years old. We have had our business, Buschwerk for four years now. So, we started it soon after he turned fifty.
Prior to starting the business, Roman spent about twenty years as the head landscaper for the local market town of Reutte.
You might imagine that working with his hands, climbing trees, toiling the earth would all be too much for an older gentleman like him. Nope, not at all! He happily wakes up at 6.30am get out to work by 7am, and continues as long as the weather permits.
From a business stand-point, it is my most profitable venture, to date.
And this success has come, only because my partner, who carries the business on his shoulder, is happily engaged with idea of being best-in-class. When I am here in Austria, we spend a lot of time discussing how to grow the business and add value to ourselves by being valuable to others.
I always notice that he gets so excited when he talks about some new garden that he designed and built for a client. Or when he receives delivery of new plants; or when he has identified a new digger he will purchase for us.
Roman has boundless energy because he is happy and proud to be doing what he does. This makes him an engaging business partner as well as a great person for a client to do business with.
And, the results are seen in the profitability of the enterprise.
People have always told me to follow my passion. They have said if I do that I will be successful. But I have learnt a lot more from my friend Roman, as well as the two great musicians I saw this week.
It’s about adding craft to your passion. If you learn to become really good at what you do, you will find that this self-efficacy fuels your desire and happiness.
This is what brings you the ultimate results in life.
Shankar R. Santhiram is managing consultant and executive leadership coach at EQTD Consulting. He is also the author of the national bestseller “So, You Want To Get Promoted?”