A week ago, I listened to the best guitar music on Earth with my good friend and colleague, Ray Amelio, and 80,000 other fans at Eric Clapton’s “Crossroads Guitar Festival” in Chicago.
For 12 hours, the hot Chicago sun blistered us, despite lots of suntan lotion, as we listened to performances by ZZ Top, Robert Randolph, Vince Gill, Sheryl Crow, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, BB King, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi and Jonny Lang, to name just a few of my favorites.
Aside from being completely wowed by solo after solo, here’s what I observed: A diverse crowd spanning generations, ethnicities and places of origin. No one got visibly drunk or disruptive, no one hurled offensive language, smoked in no-smoking areas, pushed, shoved or stood. No one jumped in front of others in food or souvenir lines. And no one cut in front of anyone else while driving into, or later exiting, the concert grounds.
The heat, the alcohol, the density of the crowd could have made this a challenging event. Yet, that didn’t happen. It made me wonder: Why did we all manage to get along?
Of course, the great music helped, but I think what really did it was this: We were all there for a common purpose, to enjoy that music and the day. We were there because we wanted to be there. We chose to spend our day with 80,000 people.
The rules were clear and specific: What you could do and could not do was stated in simple, clear language in the web announcements and in related promotional materials. As we walked into the Festival, key rules were posted everywhere.
Finally, the artists set a standard. They were polite to one another and the audience. They stayed on schedule. They performed with excellence and intensity, and they shared the stage and their crowd-pleasing moments.
Each performer showed great respect for the crowd in terms of what they said and how they reacted to their fans. None of them were intoxicated, none out of control, none acted in any way except in line with the Festival’s standards, starting with the polite and friendly, Ultimate Guitar Hero, Eric Clapton, the CEO of the day.
I know our workplaces can’t really be like the Festival. But simple rules, leader communication and action in line with the standards, common purpose, combined with great work, can go a long way toward bringing out the best in what we do and how we act.
Finally, my special thanks to my dear wife, Sharon, for a great birthday present and experience.