Are you willing to abandon the past to become something else?

“Art is what we’re doing when we do our best work.” – Seth Godin

Here’s a different angle on things, creation from a musical artist’s point of view.

If you don’t know anything about Linkin Park don’t worry, just take my word for it that these guys are artists in the true sense of the word. They’re not afraid to mix things up, to push their music in a different direction, to become something else entirely.

That’s where their newest album, One Thousand Suns, comes in. Released this week, the album is completely different than their previous work:

Linkin Park‘s new A Thousand Suns album is a lot of things, most of which have nothing to do with their previous (mega-selling) efforts. By their own admission, the band spent nearly two years attempting to leave their past behind. To that end, it’s not a stretch to say they succeeded. The album, which hit stores Tuesday (September 14), is the band’s most divisive. But there’s one thing seemingly everyone can agree on: From this point forward, Linkin Park will never be the same band again. And though Suns represents the band at a crossroads, that doesn’t mean they abandoned everything that got them to this point. Quite the opposite, in fact. They’ve just taken the old and reworked it through the prism of the new.

In the music industry, moving in a different direction or trying to reinvent yourself is seen as a big risk because an artist is ‘abandoning’ what worked for him/her before. Sound familiar?

Most organizations have an ‘unwillingness’ to go in a different direction, they’ll keep on doing what’s always worked and what works for everyone else. The act of ‘innovating’ is to create something new, to go in a different direction, to see anew. So where’s the gap?

If you watch the intro video to the ‘making of’ their new album below, you’ll notice the following statements:

“Willingness to go with something that’s weird and put yourself behind that.”

“We wanted to work on something that’s different than how we’ve done things historically.”

“As long as the elements are really different, that’s making it interesting.”

I think the key word in there is ‘willingness’ because if you don’t have the desire to be innovative (as many organization clearly don’t), then you have to be willing to try. To take a leap into the unknown, to leave familiar shores behind in search of new ones, to reinvent yourself. Gary Hamel said it best:

“The single biggest reason companies fail is they over invest in what is, as opposed to what might be.” — Gary Hamel

Abandon the past and become something else. This is what great artists do and also what great organizations do.

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