Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fields of Dreams…. Aspirational Journey

Irving Fields is 92 years old. Six nights a week he plays piano at Nino’s a restaurant on 58th Street in NYC, right behind our apartment.

People come from all over to listen to him play – even Tony Bennett and other singers who he has played for over the years. Last year Irving wrote a song for the Bush’s dog and they invited him to the White House to play it.

At Ninos, Irving walks around to tables and asks people what they want him to play. He writes down all the songs and then he links them all together into a medley; one song folds into the other. He composes as he goes. He lives for music and loves his music. He has a passion for his music and he shares it wherever he goes. Irving is a Field of Dreams – who never stops dreaming.

When he was 91, Irving has his hip replaced. In the hospital his nurse told him he needed to be careful walking up and down stairs so she made him repeat the phrase, “up-left, down-right” over and over and over again. Every day she came in to feed him, or give him medicine, she would have him repeat, “up-left, down-right.” She even woke him up at 3 in the morning to repeat the coaching to ensure he got it. Irving dreamt about these words - “up-left, down-right” - “up-left, down-right.”

At first Irving was really angry that she thought he would forget. “Goodness gracious,” he would say to himself, “I’m only 92. Of course I’ll remember what to do!”

Then, in an Irving-sort-of-way, he did something wonderful and unexpected. Irving started dreaming about “up-left, down-right.” One morning he awoke and he had turned the “up-left, down-right” phrase into a song, which he then choreographed and before leaving the hospital sang to every one of the patients and nursing staff. He left with a standing ovation.

Irving couldn’t get the song out of his head. He kept singing it to everyone and always got a chuckle. It was a catchy tune, and once you heard it, it had ‘sticky power.’

When he got home from the hospital, one of his protégés called to see how he was doing after his operation. Irving shared the story about “up-left, down-right” and the protégé said to him, “you should start a Jingle Company and write these songs for people to buy.” His protégé further advised Irving to start a company, and advertise his services on the web. Irving didn’t know about the web, all he knew was his music. He didn’t even have a computer.

His protégé told him not to worry. He said to Irving, “I’ll come down and video tape you singing your song, and we can post it on YouTube so everyone could see how great your song is. Irving didn’t know what YouTube was either.

So the protégé came down to NYC from Canada where he was living, and he taped Irving singing. However Irving didn’t sing “up-left, down-right.” When he learned about what You Tube was, he got so excited; he transformed the original song “up-left, down-right” into a song which he called YouTube.com.

So if you go to YouTube and type in the name Irving Fields, you will see Irving singing YouTube.com. Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxkuYeERt1c

As of this week, Irving’s YouTube jingle has had over 719,000 hits. He now has a Jingle site under construction, and he comes up to our apartment to see himself on the internet and count the number of visitors.

Irving Field is our hero. He practices music 4 hours a day and then plays for hundreds of people at night. His positive outlook on life is infectious. At the restaurant, he goes over to tables, introduces himself and asks people what they want to hear, then plays it flawlessly. Even though his fingers appear arthritic, the music comes out with passion and gusto. If you judged him by the outside, you might think he was too old to perform the way he does or too frail to play for hours at a time without stopping.

Irving continues to teach me lessons every time I see him. I am reminded that we can all get caught up in labels, and judge others unfairly. We can think we know what people are capable of and think of them smaller than who they are or could be. Irving has taught me to let go of labels and focus on dreams .

Irving lives in a state of continual youth. He is alive, and growing. He feels young and acts young; he makes people feel good to be around him. He turns negativity into positivity. Most of all, Irving Field builds a Field of Dreams every day, and pulls others in with him. When you are around him, you just want more of him.

Research: We spend 75% of the time in an aspirational state. When we are sleeping we are in a dream state. When we are awake we think about how we want each day to unfold – and hidden inside of those thoughts are our aspirations for the future. Everyone has aspirations and dreams that need to emerge, and when they do we feel alive, and happy and passionate about life. What are you doing to make sure you keep your dreams alive?

Exercise: Field of Dreams

Think about your state of mind. Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
How many times have you found that your passion has left you? How often do you feel that ‘a job is just a job’ and it’s not fun anymore. How often do you say ‘I work to pay the bills’?

What is your Field of Dreams?

Individual: Write up a list of aspirations you have. Some people find it’s easier to call them goals because goals feel more tangible. Write them up and post them on the wall. Check them over at the end of the week and/or the month and see what steps you are taking to turn your dreams into reality.

Organizational: Run an Aspiration Day every month. Ask people to get together and share their aspirations and see how the feel of your workplace will change!

To aspire means to “breathe life into something” and when we aspire together, dreams are borne.

What aspirations in your life are just waiting for a chance to emerge?

 Judith E. Glaser is the Author of two best selling business books:

Creating WE: Change I-Thinking to We-Thinking & Build a Healthy Thriving Organization - winner of the Bronze Award in the Leadership Category of the 2008 Axiom Business Book Awards, and The DNA of Leadership; and the DVD and Workshop titled The Leadership Secret of Gregory Goose

Contact: 212-307-4386
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