Bob Lefsetz’ post “Genius is Love”: Bob nailed this one in my opinion

So I’m watching the George Harrison special and I’m staggered to learn he grew up in a house without electricity. But it was worse. Heat was one stove, fired by coal, could that have contributed to his cancer?

And then they go to Hamburg, where Klaus Voormann talks about seeing the Beatles on the Reeperbahn. Egads, you wouldn’t even go there. A tourist trap with neon lights that reminds you of nothing so much as a sideshow, a rip-off. This is where the band played eight hours a night, in between strippers.

Sound like a road to success? Do you think between sets the boys were contemplating the top of the pops? No, they were just stayin’ alive, having a bit of fun, trying to elude a dreary future in Liverpool.

Talk about your 10,000 hours. There were no hard drives back then. You played live. And if you weren’t at least moderately good, you couldn’t get the gig. Over time you learn not only how to play, but perform, and they’re not the same. I’ve never seen anybody work the crowd like Paul McCartney. I’d say it’s in his DNA, but the point is it’s not. He learned it. Through experience. In Hamburg.

I just got through listening to Malcolm Gladwell on Radiolab. I’ll give you the link. It’s fascinating to see how far Gladwell has come himself. Now he’s completely comfortable on stage, he owns it, he’s not trying to convince you, you feel privileged to be in attendance.

And Gladwell’s talking about the 10,000 hours it takes to become world class at any cognitive skill. But then he goes further. He talks about love. That genius is love, not ability. Do you love what you do so much that you can’t stop talking about it, can’t stop practicing, can’t stop innovating?

Gladwell uses the example of Wayne Gretzky. Who cried when hockey games ended on TV when he was only two. Who invented shots no one had even contemplated. But I was thinking of Elton John. Elton loves music. I’ll never forget reading that they used to open up Tower Records just for him, he’d buy a hundred albums. Elton’s still singling out new talent. He trumpeted Ryan Adams…

And then there’s Steve Jobs. He loved computers, he loved technology. He may have been unjustly fired from Apple, but he didn’t take his money and go home, he began again, with NeXT. Funny how today’s culture is different. I’m gonna create an app or a Website, sell it and retire! The geniuses never retire, their insides won’t let them.

And when you see a genius at work, you feel something. Those Apple keynotes, you could see that Jobs himself was thrilled, the excitement was contagious.

And I’m sure you’ve been at a show where the performer was so into it you’ll never forget it. When they weren’t playing for you so much as themselves, enraptured by the music.

Do you know those people who can’t stop talking about something, whether it be music or cars or computers? They’re the ones to look out for, they’re the ones who are going to make it.

And these people are rarely sour grapes. Because money is not what they’re after. They’d do it for free. And they might like tweeting and Facebooking, all the social networking chozzerai, but nowhere near as much as playing.

You know the cliche, “Do what you love and the money will follow.” That’s hogwash. Making money is its own skill. You can love what you’re doing and be broke. But you won’t be unhappy.

Loving what you do is not enough to succeed. It’s just a beginning, it’s an ongoing force. It keeps you going when the spotlight’s gone, when everybody else tells you to give up.

But it also drives you to innovate, to do it different.

Doing the same thing over and over for 10,000 hours won’t make you a genius. It’s just a jumping off point, a foundation. It’s like being a painter. The great abstract expressionists knew how to draw, they jettisoned that to go into a new realm. They understood context, history. Sure, anybody can drip paint on a canvas, but could you think of it?

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