If you get the chance, go see the new documentary film, It Might Get Loud. This film is a 90 minute love letter to the electric guitar starring three of the most amazing and talented rock icons. The film chronicles the careers of Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), The Edge (U2), and Jack White (The White Stripes) letting the viewer catch a glimpse (or a listen) of the history, hardware, and creative power that fuels each artist’s unique sound.
Never one to pass up a learning experience, I walked away from the film with a little bit more than just a greater appreciation for all things rock. As I listened to each of these masters talk about their experiences I couldn’t help but jot down a few notes for myself. I feel like I got a good dose of rock ‘n roll today but I am even more appreciative of the leadership lessons I gleaned from the movie. Here are 5 Leadership Lessons I Learned from It Might Get Loud:
1) ABL- Always Be Learning: Jack White, 34, is the youngest guitarist in the film’s trio. He is fourteen years younger than The Edge, 48, and thirty years younger than Jimmy Page, 64. White is featured in the film because, without a doubt, he has developed a distinctly unique sound. When you hear him play you know for certain that it is Jack White. White could have strolled into the studio, unique sound in hand and a chip on his shoulder, ready to show the old guard a thing or two. Instead, White showed that he understood the opportunity handed to him through this project. White, with a huge knowing smile, says, “I plan on tricking these guys into showing me all their tricks.” Always be learning starts with a humble attitude and a desire to make the most of every opportunity. Yes, White has a lot to bring to that table but someone with a teachable spirit and a heart for learning will walk away from experiences like these richer for it.
2) Disregard Most Critics: Everyone has a shared experience in receiving criticism. Critics love to cut you down and write you off. A perfect example of this comes from Jimmy Page as he is discussing the harsh criticism that he and the other members of Led Zeppelin received with each album release. Page says that Led Zeppelin IV was only given a one paragraph review. One paragraph!!! For those of you who are unaware, this album contains a wide variety of music and some of rock’s quintessential tracks including Black Dog, When the Levee Breaks, and Stairway to Heaven. Everyone can listen and learn from constructive criticism. However, most critics just love to hear themselves talk. Learn to discern the helpful from the hurtful. Get better from the critics who want to see you do better and ignore the ones who just want to cut you down.
3) God Moves In Mysterious Ways: Jimmy Page says that the only reason he even began playing guitar was because they had moved into a new house and the previous owner had left a guitar behind. The only reason one of the world’s greatest guitar players even picked up a guitar was because some man’s trash became another boy’s treasure. I don’t know what Jimmy Page’s religious persuasion is. I believe that God determines the steps of the believer and non-beliver alike. I believe that coincidences like this are not really coincidences at all. That well worn passage in Jeremiah says that God has plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future. He does this- directs our steps- so that we will call on him and seek him with all of our hearts. Maybe God has led you to this place, opened this door, or given you this gift so that you may see him, know him, and seek him. What ever it is you do, do it for the glory of God.
4) Do the Hard Work: The Edge is a master technician. A great aspect of the film is watching him run his guitar through various amps, filters, pedals, and gadgets to produce just the right sound. In fact, The Edge calls the sounds from his guitar “his voice” and righty so. In the film, you get to watch The Edge alone in the studio with just his guitar, equipment, and computer tweaking away at a few chords for what ultimately becomes the opening of “Get On Your Boots.” You see him working late into the night- strumming here, moving a dial there, stepping on a pedal over here- until the final product emerges. What started out as a straight-forward lick becomes and full fledged rock riff. It all came about because the Edge put in the hard work. Many may never know the behind the scenes struggle, the tweaking, or the long hours you put into something but you know that it was in those moments that the project was given life and brought to fruition. Do the hard work every time- even if you are the only one who ever knows.
5) Seize Opportunities: Every U2 fan knows that the band was formed when the boys were schoolmates in Ireland. Larry Mullen, drums, put a flyer up on the school bulletin board to recruit band members. The rest they say is history. The film takes you back to the school with the Edge as tour guide. He walks through the halls and over to the bulletin board telling us that this was where the flyer was posted. The Edge admits that he probably would have joined another band at some point but he wonders what would have been different. Would he have gone on to fame and fortune if he had ignored the flyer? He admits he couldn’t play very well at that time. What if he had seen the flyer but had been too afraid or self-conscious to follow up on it. In a very matter of fact way the Edge says, “Who knows? I could be working at a bank somewhere.” Seize every opportunity! Don’t let fear or critics or even your “small” abilities keep you from pursuing the right opportunities when the present themselves. The Edge answered that flyer and found what he was looking for.
I absolutely loved this film. If you like rock music or documentary films or if like me, you like both of these things, find a theatre showing It Might Get Loud and rock out with your bad self. The music is great, the conversation is great, and you might walk away thinking about more than just rock ‘n roll.