Motivation With Mark Knopfler

The word universe means the one song or poem: uni-one and verse-sound or poetry. So sound (so music – so poetry) has an inherent capacity to change our mood, and from this our motivational energies. What we listen to, and when, is significant. As Shakespeare wrote in The Merchant of Venice, “The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils”. So it is that all highly motivated people listen to music often, and should do more so.Personally I love the music of JS Bach, which I listen to on an almost daily basis, but I also love a small number of great rock/pop stars of the last 40 years. I wonder who your heroes are?For me Mark Knopfler, erstwhile Dire Straits (with as many great tracks solo as he had in those earlier, halcyon days) is one of the greats. His music is simultaneously melodic, intricate and epic. The epic comes from those great guitar finales he plays – think, ‘Tunnel of Love’. A few years back at the Bournemouth International Centre I had the pleasure of seeing him live. My wife, my son Joe, and I were all swept away with an awesome performance of music that had us spellbound. His live version of ‘Farmer Blues’, for example, was just staggeringly great. I could go on – but you get my drift.


As we walked back to the car, I said to my son: Joe, well, what the three important lessons from Mark Knopfler that anyone could apply to becoming mega-successful and possibly mega-happy? If being a member of a rock and roll band is analogous to running a business, what do you think they might be?Before sketching the three core lessons we might like to reflect that even doing all the right things does not necessarily lead to success – things go wrong whether you like it or not. As it says in the good book, Time and chance happens to all men. In the case of Mark when I saw him live, he revealed to us why he wasn’t standing up and playing the guitar: he had pulled a nerve in his back and that had plagued him for five weeks. Now that’s what you call irritating – and life!The lesson from watching Mark is the lesson of creativity: all the songs were his songs, and so everyone followed his tune. Being creative is an essential component of being human: essential – of the essence. Peter Drucker observed that only two things made money for a business: marketing and innovation – everything else was a cost. We need to run businesses where we give full scope to human creativity, especially our own. In the long run it helps make us more stress-resistant.Second: be an expert at whatever you do! Watch Mark play that guitar – in fact several guitars – and you see an expert at work. Without overdoing it they had cameras which for short periods of time enabled us to see Mark on the stage, and behind him a close up of his fingering and fretwork. And it wasn’t only Mark who was a superb musician – they all were. So, if you are going to be a plumber, nurse, director, manager, shop assistant – be the best. I was amused and impressed recently when the plumber fixing a problem round our house said, “My brother is the best plumber in Dorset”. I said, Well, get him here then – I don’t want the second best!


Finally, get a tight team round you. Towards the end Mark introduced his team and we learnt nearly all of them went back 15 years of playing with him, and one even to the ’80s. He trusted them and they trusted him; the synergy and teamwork were apparent – the great Knopfler could achieve far more leveraging their talent alongside his own. Where are your key team players? Who’s with you on a journey to change the world with your product or service?Yes, you can learn a lot from watching a rock and roll band. The music’s great as well!