Last week I had the joy of seeing one of my favorite bands in concert. Rock and roll hall of fame inductees Joan Jett and the Blackhearts may be too old for many of you to remember, but watching them on stage, it was like being back to the 1980’s. Even though Joan Larkin (aka “Joan Jett”) is approaching 60, her voice and classic low slung guitar killed it and makes one almost forget that we, as business owners, can learn a lot from her story.

Most know her for songs like “Cherry Bomb”, “I love Rock n’ Roll” and “Bad Reputation” but few know that she wrote, performed and recorded that first song when she was just 18. When she started her own band at age 21, the music industry didn’t know what to do with her. You see, until that point there had never been a rock band made up of all men with a woman lead singer. It was revolutionary and none had Joan’s vision or could appreciate her what she was doing. She was rejected by 23 separate record labels.

Most would have given up, but Joan decided to create her own record label, Blackheart Records, where she launched many  of her future hits. It made Jett the first female artist to own and have direct control over an independent record company. Her dreams ran into a brick wall but she didn’t let that stop her. She looked for a solution and took a chance.  She was authentic and true to her dreams. The rest is history.

As business owners we often put ourselves in boxes and say “I can’t do that” or “nobody else does that” or “what would people think” and so on. We design a logo we absolutely love and then send it to 30 people asking their opinion. Or we want to take a certain path with our practices but are scared to do what we know in our hearts is the right choice. Maybe we’re tired of working in our corporate job but we’re scared of stepping out to do our own thing.

Well, there’s calculated risk and there’s believing in ourselves and those are very different than just waking up and deciding to do something rash. But don’t be shackled by what others think you should do, or worse, what you think others want you to do.

I have friends who always “play it safe” and never venture outside their comfort zone. They talk to me about dreams and goals that have gone unaccomplished and my heart breaks. I know, not everyone has the same risk tolerance and that’s OK, but also remember that we all get one shot at this thing called life and I wanna make my mark while I’m here. What’s a few mistakes?

The next time you have a great idea or want to reach for that brass ring, remember Joan Larkin and what a 21 year old did to shake up the music industry. Joan’s story is living proof that you can chase your dreams and accomplish anything if you put your mind to it. There’s always a path if you look for it. It’s OK to reach out and try to reach for the stars. What’s the worst that happens?

And to quote one of Joan’s most famous songs, Bad Reputation: “…mistakes, we all make them…”.

Go out and live the life you dreamed of. Never let anyone tell you want you can’t do. Make some mistakes, learn from them, grow and live the life you’ve dreamed of.

Keep on rockin,

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