Remember Bob Dylan

I’m a guitar player. Granted, I used to play a lot more than I do now (kids’ll do that to you, ya know?). There were spurts you could’ve even considered me a professional of some sort. Those were good times.

Like with any endeavor, self-doubt is an ever-present obstacle. As I played with bands and wrote songs, I had big dreams. But I never went long without wrestling with the idea that I just may not have what it takes. Maybe my chops weren’t good enough. Maybe the songs I thought were great actually sucked. Maybe I just wouldn’t catch my break.

Self-doubt like this is inevitable.

One day, a revolutionary thought struck me. A thought that, in and of itself, had the power to conquer self-doubt in a single bound. A thought that empowered me with the spark to quit pitying myself and get back to it.

Wanna know what it was?

Remember Bob Dylan.

Bob Dylan is a legend. You could argue that he is easily one of the five most influential musicians ever. And there’s no arguing he’s one of the most prolific songwriters who’s ever lived. Bob Dylan changed music. Bob Dylan is covered by EVERYONE (C’mon, did you really think Jimi Hendrix wrote “All Along the Watchtower?”).

But here’s the revolutionary part. Bob Dylan is ugly as sin. He literally looks like a rat. His voice is absolutely horrible. Seriously, have you ever heard anyone hear Bob Dylan sing and respond with, “Oh, that’s the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard?” Most of us can’t even understand what he’s saying. We need an interpreter. He’s polarizing (people love him or hate him). He ignores trends. And for every great song in his repertoire, there are 20 others that are actually worse than screeching fingernails on a chalkboard.

By anyone’s standards, Bob Dylan is not cool. He’s just really good at being Bob Dylan.

Which, ironically, is what makes him cool.

Ship It

In addition, Bob Dylan produced. He put it out there. He didn’t wait for perfection. He knew that what he had did no good sitting on the dock. He kicked it out the door and gave it a shot at success.

When self-doubt would creep in for me in those days, I would remember that Bob Dylan was a huge success by being him and by producing. I told myself “If Bob Dylan can succeed at this, then I’ve definitely got a chance.”

So, business leader, I’m betting you face the same kinds of doubts, the same fears. The good news is you, too, can remember Bob Dylan.

Think of all the people you come in contact with that are “successful.” At best, they’re normal; more likely, many are knuckleheads. Sure, a few of them may have an unfair advantage or two, but I’ll be most of them are special for the same reasons Bob Dylan is.

Do what you do, and do it so others can watch. Just like Bob Dylan.


And here’s one of my favorite Dylan tunes, Gotta Serve Somebody.