The Kennedy Center Honors pay tribute to artistic legends who have made lasting impact on culture and society. Among this year's honorees is James Taylor, a five-time Grammy-winner who has sold more than 100 million records in his career. Featured on the cover of Time Magazine on March 1, 1971 as the face of new rock, he was often referred to as the first music superstar of the 70s. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, at the age of 67 he produced his first number one album.
When questioned on CBS This Morning by Norah O’Donnell about the timing of his first number one album, he simply said he’s learned he needs a few days of quiet in order to tap into his creativity. After several days of stillness, the magic happens. A quick study of James Taylor reveals some beautiful secrets, chief among them is the understanding that ideas, creativity, artistry only come after silence, quiet, stillness. When we’re hurting for ideas, Taylor wisdom would suggest we haven’t been quiet for long enough.
Test this idea by watching the people around you who are in a frenzy, hurried, panicked. Does anything phenomenal come from that frenzy? Anything original, creative, new? Also, keep an eye on those people you see as creatives, the idea people, the ones full of artistry. What kind of margins do they have in their life — space, quiet, silence? From the observation of people in your world, does Taylor know the secret?
The more obvious secret Taylor exposes is to keep showing up. Taylor wrote his first song at the age of 14. Taylor gave us music we all adore, music we can sing every word to, music that evokes emotion and he did it for decades. It was only after 53 years of writing music that he gave us a number one album. When you’re not sure what the next step is, keep showing up! Perseverance is a key to success.
Take a few lessons from James Taylor into 2017, not to mention a whole bunch of good music.