The Beatles song Hey Jude was in my head as I prepared to write my Weekly Memo to the teachers at the school where I serve as the principal.
As I started humming the melody and quietly singing that song to myself, I quickly realized that there is a great deal within the lyrics that delivers an important message. I quickly scrapped the original idea I had for the memo and began writing about this epic Beatles tune…
Let’s take a quick look at the messages that I took from one of the Beatles’ most famous songs:
Hey Jude, don’t make it bad, take a sad song and make it better…
If that’s not one of the biggest lessons in life, I don’t know what is.
The message here is simple – Don’t make it bad. Just don’t. The world, life itself, is often filled with bad things, hurtful things, sad things… Each day (and sometimes it really is each day) we’re faced with things that upset us, things that hurt us, things that frustrate and annoy us. That’s life. It is what it is.
We’re confronted each day with all of this negative stuff. It’s all around us. Sometimes it is thrust upon us. It’s all over the papers and the radios and televisions. Often times, It’s all people can talk about. “Did you hear about _____? It’s bad.” All of the negativity just isn’t good.
But, even if life is hard, or the world is, or whatever… we don’t have to make it bad. We can take that sad song (life, our person problems, the sadness around us) and make it better. We have that ability. We can make it better.
In fact, what the song is telling us is that we must make it better. Take the sad song and make it better. Change from a minor key to a major key. Bring the whole song up an octave (or two). Increase the tempo. Add a little rhythm. Come on now. Yeah. You can do this. (Yeah, yeah, yeah.)
Take the sad song and make it better.
When we look to find ways to make the bad better, we are doing what we need to do. When we make the bad better, we’re making our lives and the lives of the people around us better.
The world, our lives, all of it, can be better, but only if we work to make it so. That’s our responsibility in life – to take the sad song and make it better.
Remember to let her into your heart, then you can start to make it better…
Letting her into your heart… that’s the key. Letting her into your heart.
Into your heart.
Once we let her in, once we embrace her, we can begin to make it all better.
But, who is she?
She is me. She is you. She is all of us.
She is work. She is labor. She is obligations. She is pain. She is sorrow. She is hurt. She is responsibility.
What we must do, what we have to do, is let her into our hearts. All of the above. We have to let it all in. That’s the key.
(I’ve been working on something in my head for a long time, I write about it a lot, and I’ve come close to getting it, but not quite. I’m always just missing.
I believe that we become our best selves when we love what we do. I believe in this concept so much that I don’t just write about it, I’m actually trying to build a professional workshop around this critical theme – because I think it encompasses everything about success. When we love something, we invest in it – we give it all of our best efforts. We would do anything for things we love. Success comes when we invest that love, that passion, into our work so that the job isn’t a job or the task isn’t a task or the obligation isn’t an obligation…it all becomes a labor of love. It is when we love the task that we find success.
In March, I’m going to put this idea to the test. After years of writing proposals on this theme and getting rejected by educational conference after educational conference, my proposal for a workshop “The Heart of Leading…is your heart” was finally accepted. I’ll be speaking to that topic in Providence, Rhode Island.
I’ll let you know if people throw hugs or tomatoes at me.)
If we embrace the bad, the sad, the unfortunate, and the upsetting…if we can let all of that into our hearts, we can, in some way, make it better.
Work is better when we love what we do.
We appreciate our colleagues more when we love them.
We are stronger as we face life’s travails when we accept these sadnesses and embrace them (however difficult that is) in our hearts.
That is when we start to make it better.
And anytime you feel the pain, Hey Jude, refrain… Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders…
He’s saying it again… life hurts. You are going to sometimes feel the pain.
But stop (refrain!), don’t let the pain become your focus.
When you focus on the pain, it feels like the world, everything, is on your shoulders. It’s not. It doesn’t have to be. Find a way. Talk. Share. Meditate. Pray. Find a way to share your burden… you’re not in it alone – you don’t have to be.
Don’t carry the world, and of its burdens, and all of your burdens, upon your shoulders.
For if you do…
It’s a fool who plays it cool by making his world a little colder…
Paul McCartney is not saying “be cool” here. No, he’s using that phrase a little differently I think. He’s using “cool” in a literal sense. When you bring the cold, when you refrain from giving, sharing, finding, or embracing the warmth…and instead look to, and focus only on, the bad, your making your world and the world around you just a little colder.
It’s the fool who plays it cool, for it’s the fool who makes the world a cold and dark place rather than a place of love, energy, support, sunshine, and warmth.
That supposedly cool person you know… Maybe he’s not so cool.
Maybe the coolest person is the one with the most love and joy to give.
The coolest person is actually the one with the most warmth.
And don’t you know that it’s just you, Hey Jude, you’ll do…
You will do, as will I, as will all of us because it all comes down, in the end, to what we bring to every experience, to every interaction, to every challenge, to every decision…
Paul McCartney says you will do because he has faith in you, in all of us.
You’ll do because it is, ultimately (and always) up to you. And you are up to the challenge.
The movement you need is on your shoulder…
I recall Paul McCartney or John Lennon once saying that this lyric doesn’t make sense.
What movement? What shoulder?
I think McCartney or Lennon (or both of them were wrong). This lyric makes perfect sense.
The movement you need, the energy, the love, the compassion, the positivity…it’s right there. You can touch it. It’s on your shoulder. It’s part of what is you. It’s the good part of you. It’s the good part of all of us.
Sometimes we have to shoulder the burden. When we do that, we carry that burden in a positive way. By shouldering it, we are indicating that we are strong.
This is the opposite of the lyric above. You’re not carrying the world in a bad sense on your shoulder, instead the goodness you need, and the goodness you’ll share, it’s right there.
The movement you need is on your shoulder.
We become strong when we embrace the challenges that life throws our way because when we…
Let her under your skin, then you’ll begin to make it better! Better better better better better! AH!!! (Na, na, na, na-na-na na…) –
When we embrace, and love, each other, everyone, and all that life throws at us, we begin (it doesn’t end there) to make it better.
And once we do that, once we see that we can control our feelings, our emotions, our reactions…
Once we embrace it all. Once we let it into our lives… once we let it under our skin, once it becomes on our shoulder and part of us… we begin, maybe ever so slowly, to make it better.
And once this happens, once we take the sad song, once we embrace the sad song, once we love each challenge, and each other, the world, all of us… breaks out into song!!!!