Stop Failing and Start Living Your Best Life
Use Your Mindset to Stop Failing and Start Living Your Best Life
There are some classic combinations that are just meant to be together. Could anything be more comforting than the smooth, creamy taste of salty peanut butter together with cold sweet jelly hitting the roof of your mouth? How about the sound of pencil scratching along on paper while you write your deepest thoughts? Socks rights out of the dryer paired up with your comfiest pair of sneakers. Red wine complementing a tart cheese.
And rap group Run DMC mixed with the classic rock melodies of Aerosmith.
Say what? (Sound of record player screeching)…
Oh my friends, if you aren’t familiar with the classic Run DMC/Aerosmith Collaboration “Walk this Way,” you’re in for a treat.
But first, a little history.
The year was 1986. Aerosmith had been around since 1970 and while they didn’t dominate the classic rock scene, they had held their own. By the end of the decade, they had quite a little following. They also had quite a little drug habit and it led to the kind of self-sabotage so many bands, like the BeeGees, could relate to. They were stuck in a tragically cliche failure loop. Band members were passing out on stage and internal conflict was aplenty.
Hip Hop on the other hand, was just emerging but far from mainstream. We were listening to full-blown 80s pop while playing with our GI Joes and Transformers – Whitney Houston, Huey Lewis and the News, Madonna, Wham!, and these guys were called Flock of Seagulls.
MTV actually played music videos and it was still a fairly new but exploding concept. The videos were taking the music to a whole new level that audiences couldn’t get enough of. And the right song paired with the right video could create sheer magic! Case in point, Aha’s “Take On Me”!
Video truly did kill the radio star in that the song alone no longer cut it. Bands needed the look, the outfits, the big hair, and the acting chops to pull it all off so they didn’t look ridiculous.
So, how did a drug-ravaged classic rock band and a rap/hip-hop band even stand a chance of releasing a chart topping pop hit in 1986?
Alas, this pairing of past their prime rock royalty and up-and-coming hip hop legends was not a peanut butter meets jelly story – at least at first. The two bands bristled at the idea of a collaboration.
Producer Rick Rubin knew he had something legendary in Run DMC. But mainstream radio wasn’t buying it. Hip-Hop and Rap were gaining traction but getting their songs played on the popular radio stations was like trying to fit a square in a round hole. It just wasn’t happening.
Rubin, however, had that growth owner mindset I’m always referring to when speaking of those that know they have something special to offer the world and won’t stop no matter what until they do.
He knew there could be something magical in bridging the gap between the explosive Hip Hop style taking the world by storm and the classic grunge rock that had dominated for so long. And what better way to build that bridge but than to take the whitest, most cliche “country bumpkin bullshit” band and have Run DMC rap their lyrics.
Neither band was down at first. Aerosmith thinking they were too established, too cool for school to bring in newcomers onto an already proven hit they had over a decade earlier. Run DMC not getting the connection between what they were doing and the music they were setting out to replace.
Alas, Rubin and his growth owner mindset pushed through the temporary obstacles and made it happen. He was able to find the golden ticket to bring them together in that drum rift you hear at the very beginning and throughout the song.
The two bands begrudgingly joined forces to spend one day in the studio leading to one of the most original and greatest hits of all time.
It. Was. Magic.
Here it is in all its glory:
Even though Run DMC didn’t want to be known for lyrics like:
So I took a big chance at the high school dance
With a miss who was ready to play
Wasn’t me she was foolin’ ’cause she knew what she was doin’
When she told me how to walk this wayyyyy
In their wildly popular music video, the two bands literally broke down the wall that had been holding hip-hop back from mainstream music. Suddenly Run DMC was on everyone’s lips. Classic Rock and Pop fans were just exposed to a whole new world of hip hop and rap. Run DMC had officially made it. They were a household name.
And Aerosmith catapulted back into the spotlight. The hit was the beginning of a very long and fulfilling success loop. They went on to record a multi-platinum record called Permanent Vacation the next year, followed by three more multi-platinum records and their first number one hit. They were rock legends.
It’s almost impossible to spot lightning in a bottle before it strikes, yet we often say “of course that was gonna blow up, it’s awesome!”
So how do we set ourselves up to spot these moments so we can build momentum on top of them ahead of time? We take a lesson from Mr. Rick Rubin who, instead of following the formulaic mold with his head in the sand, stepped back and took a 10k view on what he saw going on in the industry, and anticipated what might work.
He bitch-slapped his fixed-victim self telling him it’s too risky, it won’t work, and allowed his growth owner mindset to rise up and say to yourself “Now looky here. This is going to work and we’re not going to give up until we make it happen.”
Are you just going through life checking off to-do’s with your head down following some mold that worked for someone else but is having diminishing returns for you? Are you playing it safe vs taking that big chance at the high school dance?
So often we look to others for ideas and try to reinvent their wheel and make it our own. But genius lies in having the courage and creativity to break through brick walls and failure loops to look for ways to make OUR dreams and passions, not someone else’s, a reality.
Rubin went on to be a legend with that growth owner mindset of his, and Aerosmith and Run DMC must have picked up on some of it because their careers exploded after that. Were there failures for all three along the way? Of course. But they were able to use them as learning opportunities to then pivot so as to ensure continued momentum.
How about you?
Doing something groundbreaking is never easy. But a failure habit is to tap a brick wall with a mallet and give up when it doesn’t break the first time, and a success habit is to pound at it with a sledgehammer until it gives way and allows you into the life you’ve always dreamed of. Have the mindset and courage to find your own way with your own passions and success will be yours for the taking.
Are you ready to walk this way?