Are you leading with broken soundtracks?

Broken soundtracks are one of the most persuasive forms of fear because every time you listen to one it gets easier to believe it the next time. ~Jon Acuff

Ever have a song stuck in your head? That soundtrack that you just can’t escape. Or, what about that phrase or mantra that plays over and over in your mind that keeps you from being your best or doing your best work? It’s also a soundtrack.

Jon Acuff is the author of a new release, Soundtracks: The Surprising Solution to Overthinking. Jon tells us that, “When you don’t create, curate, and choose what soundtracks you’ll listen to, the music doesn’t stop. You just hear a bunch of songs you don’t like.”

Shared Broken Soundtracks

While Jon wrote this book for individuals, I couldn’t help but think about the “shared broken soundtracks” I hear in organizations. It’s those phrases, sometimes spoken, but more frequently stuck on a never-ending loop in the minds of employees. Here are a few that came to mind:

  • Don’t speak up, just keep your head down.
  • Historically, we’ve done it this way…
  • We tried that once and it didn’t work.
  • It’s not in the budget.

As Jon describes, “your brain spins on a thought or an idea for longer than you anticipated. Unfortunately, it tends to lean toward the negative. Left to its own devices, it will naturally gravitate toward things you don’t want to dwell on.” It becomes a broken soundtrack. And, every time you hear that soundtrack, it becomes easier to believe.

Now, imagine a different kind of soundtrack in your organization. This example, used frequently, popped into my head.

During a visit to the NASA space center in 1962, President John F. Kennedy noticed a janitor carrying a broom. He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said, “Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?” “Well, Mr. President,” the janitor responded, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.” It’s not hard to imagine what soundtrack was playing in this janitor’s mind.

What kind of broken soundtracks are you enabling?

Want to change those broken soundtracks?

Be bold; give your employees fresh eyes. Then, with grace, recognize that change won’t happen overnight. Jon says it’s three “easy” steps.

  1. Retire your organization’s broken soundtracks.
  2. Replace them with new ones.
  3. Repeat them until they’re as automatic as the old ones.

What broken soundtracks need to be retired at your organization? What new soundtracks would you like to hear instead? What can you, as a leader, do to repeat those soundtracks over and over. Use positive soundtracks to lead with bold grace.

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