As a professional songwriter for the past thirty years, I know exactly why I write songs. I can’t help it. It’s my way of making sense of the world around me and, very fortunately, also the way I make my living. However, for the past eight years I’ve been helping business teams enhance their creativity and solve problems by teaching them to write songs. Understandably, there is no small amount of reluctance by executives to do something so utterly foreign to them. To that end, I’ve put together a few compelling reasons why all business teams should learn to write songs.
1. Learning to write songs makes you think differently
I’ll begin by saying I’m a big fan of the Abraham Maslow quote, “if the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.” Consider exploring your ideas and objectives through the lens of songwriting as a new “tool” in your problem-solving toolkit. By examining ideas through metaphor and the emotion-rich language of lyrics, you’re opening up a new way of approaching old or persistent work challenges which will lead to novel and innovative solutions.
2. Learning to write songs takes you out of your comfort zone
As human beings we naturally lean towards preserving the status quo. It’s comfortable and gives us the illusion of control. The reality, however, is that the “safety” of the status quo is anything but safe. We may not want to change but the world will change around us no matter what we want. Leaving your comfort zone in pursuit of a new way to solve problems and examine ideas is a good reminder that the real rewards and solutions exist in leaving the tried and true behind. On top of that, songwriting as a high challenge, high skill and clear objective practice helps business teams achieve a flow state which is, in and of itself, highly satisfying and profoundly motivating.
3. Writing a song shows you that you can do something “impossible”
For most people, the idea of writing a song can seem more like a magic trick or an impossible dream. But my favorite part of what I do with business teams is that I take smart people who don’t consider themselves to be creative and I give them the tools to explore and enhance their creativity. By breaking down the process of songwriting into its component parts, I show the team that songwriting is a craft that can be learned. When a team “does the impossible” and writes a song, there’s a tangible boost of confidence that carries forward and helps the team tackle other seemingly “impossible” issues.
4. Learning to write songs improves your ability to communicate
The beauty of the lyric writing is how it requires us to communicate only the most critical parts of our ideas and say them in a way that is both clear and memorable. While the verses of songs improve our ability to use image-rich language in the service of telling a story, it’s the chorus that teaches us the skill of distilling a message so that it not only makes a clear point but also does it in a way that people will want to hear. If communication is a muscle, then writing song lyrics is a serious workout.
5. Writing songs brings teams together around a common cause
There’s nothing quite like a challenge with a clear goal to bring a team together. Above and beyond exploring ideas and objectives, learning to write songs bonds teams around learning a new way to express themselves. The finished song (and every team I’ve ever worked with finishes their song) serves as tangible – and singable – proof that the team has rallied and done something they weren’t sure that they could do. It’s like a shot of jet fuel for team bonding.
It is highly likely that becoming a songwriter isn’t the reason you joined your current company. Regardless, I can promise you that using songwriting as a new way to explore ideas and improve your team’s creativity and communication will make you and your team better equipped to handle the challenges you face on a daily basis. Take it from a veteran of almost a decade of work teaching business teams to write songs. It works and it works well.
Find out more about Cliff’s creativity & innovation workshops for business teams.