As someone who came of age in the early 80’s, every now and then a certain song pops into my head from that era – “Jack and Diane“, by John Mellencamp. Yesterday was one of those days, and as I walked the streets of Portland on a great sunny morning, that steady beat and the refrain of “hold on to sixteen as long as you can, changes come around real soon make us woman and men” pushed me along.
After a couple of hours of this tune floating around in my brain, I realized that this “pop in” wasn’t entirely random. My subconscious was trying to tell me something.
“Changes come around real soon……..”
“John Cougar Mellencamp…….”
Yes, changes are coming for me – big ones. I’m about to start a new venture with Liz Strauss, centered around our love of leadership.
But the really big thing that my mind has been wrestling with is the “name” transition.
What’s that, you ask? In case you haven’t read it on this blog, or heard it from me personally, “Starbucker” is not my actual last name, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to “merge” it with the real thing for some time now, ever since my company was sold.
So my mind dug deep and gave me an example to ponder (with a beat), and a few valuable lessons to absorb,
John Mellencamp was a struggling musician from Indiana who was discovered by a music producer, and promptly christened “Johnny Cougar”. This producer thought that he needed an appearance overhaul as well, so on his first album he looked about as far removed as John Mellencamp as possible, all glammed up like a David Bowie wanna-be.
Eventually, Mellencamp was able to tone down the glam, but the new name remained, as well as the pressure to produce “pop” that was not really his true style or passion. But what he produced eventually struck gold, and in the early 80’s John Cougar was a rock star.
An unhappy rock star.
He wanted to get back to who he really was, and make the music he really wanted to make. So he leveraged his fame into a long transition back to John Mellencamp, with a seven year pit stop as John Cougar Mellencamp. Today, he is finally, and just simply, “himself”, both in name and in how he lives from day to day.
This story says a lot about “labels”, and how we sometimes can let our authenticity get away from us based on outside influence, and outside expectations.
No matter the name, moniker, nickname or avatar, we MUST stay true to ourselves as leaders, and as persons.
In the end, “labels” should never define us. We should define ourselves by our own words and actions.
In my case , I’ve been very lucky – Terry Starbucker wasn’t a name “pasted” on me by someone else. It was my own doing, for reasons I will soon fully reveal, and I’ve worked very hard to make sure that I wasn’t letting the name drive the personality.
But it is time to make a transition, just like John Mellencamp. So soon, you’ll be seeing an additional name in this space.
Terry “Starbucker” _______
Stay tuned. 🙂