Harvey Can’t Mess With Texas And Talent Theme Dynamics

In response to the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, Willie Nelson and the Rebuild Texas Fund produced a once in a lifetime “Harvey Can’t Mess With Texas” benefit concert to help those affected by the costliest tropical cyclone in United States history.

Paul Simon, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, Lyle Lovett, Jimmie Vaughan, Leon Bridges and many other standout artists performed almost five hours for the sold out crowd at the Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. The concert raised an astonishing $2 million, part of a larger $100 million goal established by the The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and OneStar Foundation.

One aspect of the show that struck me was the unstrained collaboration of the all-star lineup.

The artists on the show bill hold over 150 combined Grammy nominations comprising some of the most popular music of the past 50 years. Yet, each artist found inventive ways to create distinctive renditions of their well known recordings.

How did they deliver such extraordinary results and create so many unique moments from such a familiar body of work?

Moreover, can we harness this same secret to improve our own performance?

Theme Dynamics—Here, There and Everywhere

In strengths-based development, “theme dynamics” describes how our personal talents enhance, modify or regulate each other.

A good analogy for theme dynamics is the Periodic Table of Elements.

The famous chart, created in 1869 by Dmitri Mendeleev, contains the 118 chemical elements that make up our world. Each element has its own atomic weight, electron configurations and chemical properties.

Hydrogen and oxygen are pretty cool on their own, but unite them and we get water.

In a similar way, the CliftonStrengths 34 talent themes represent our specific patterns of thought, feeling and behavior. Each talent theme has its own power and usefulness. However, just like the chemical elements, we can expand and enhance our results by combining our talent themes for greater effect.

Back to The Show

It may surprise you to hear that your small business, favorite non-profit or local PTA has just as much talent as the “Harvey Can’t Mess With Texas” show bill.

Unfortunately, I’m not referring to sheer musical ability here. Sorry about that. Feel free to keep singing your lungs out when “Free Fallin'” comes on the car radio…

I’m referring to any of our natural talents that help us execute tasks, influence others, build relationships and think strategically.

Used wisely, our individual talents help us achieve our goals. Yet, a powerful force multiplier effect kicks in when we begin combining these individual talents.

This is the essence of theme dynamics.

See what theme dynamics you can spot in the highlights below and complete the two minute exercise to put your own theme dynamics to work.

7 Show Highlights, Many Theme Dynamics

• Bonnie Raitt and Jimmie Vaughan teaming up on Billy Emerson’s 1950s blues jam “The Pleasure’s All Mine”
As the band started up, Raitt shouted, “I can’t wait to play this song with you, Jimmie!” Our talent themes are like that—they can’t wait to “play” with each other.

• Willie Nelson and Leon Bridges playing “Funny How Time Slips Away”
Two different vocal stylists, two different genres. By combining Willie’s 1961 classic with Bridge’s soulful vocals, a new creation was born—a country classic with a twist. 9:55 mark)

• James Taylor and Raitt’s perfectly blended harmonies on “You Can Close Your Eyes”
Raitt’s harmonizing with Taylor transformed his original version into a duet. In the original, Taylor is singing to someone else. He’s encouraging another person in a time of need. By adding Raitt’s vocal contrast, the original composition is enhanced. It becomes a new thing— two people singing to each other. 33:08 mark

• Paul Simon and Edie Brickell on “Waltz Across Texas” and “You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly”
Simon and Brickell, married since 1992, gave these songs an extra dose of humor, grace and informed marital charm. Lots of Empathy, Harmony and Positivity* talent themes at work here! 50:01 mark

• Nathaniel Ratliff and the Nightsweats covering “Delta Lady” with Bonnie Raitt
The Joe Cocker version of this Leon Russell number has always been my favorite. Until now. Ratliff + Raitt = Pretty cool.

• Bonnie Raitt, Ruthie Foster and Martie Maguire uniting on “Angel From Montgomery”
Foster’s gospel-seared vocal power and Maguire’s fiddle gave this Raitt standard by John Prine a heightened urgency.

• Charlie Sexton, long time Bob Dylan band member, was the evening’s musical emcee and band leader.
Watching him pull together so many different performers on so many different numbers was an exercise in leadership, musicianship and talent arrangement. Incredibly impressive. 53:33 mark

Two Minute Talent Takeaway

Before you go create a monster High Fidelity Barry Judd-certified Spotify playlist, do this quick exercise.

Grab a pen and piece of paper. Write down two or more of your personal talents.

If assessing your talents makes you slightly uncomfortable, it’s easier than it sounds. Simply describe the different ways you think, feel and behave to deliver positive results.

Use your own words. Be specific. Note how you use these talents. How you feel when you use them. What you accomplish when you use them.

Then, answer this question: How can you combine these talents today to deliver superior outcomes in your work, life and relationships?

Your answer is your first step into the life-changing world of talent theme dynamics.

Martin N-20 Guitar + Stradivarius Violin = A Martivarius

Peter Drucker said, “The great mystery isn’t that people do things badly but that they occasionally do a few things well. The only thing that is universal is incompetence. Strength is always specific! Nobody ever commented, for example, that the great violinist Jascha Heifetz probably couldn’t play the trumpet very well.”

Isn’t that great? Who cares if the world’s great violinist can’t play the trumpet?

He’s the world’s greatest violinist.

This same life-changing mindset is harnessed by world famous musicians every day. Artists like Jascha Heifetz and Willie Nelson learned how to combine and deploy their natural talents for maximum effect.

We can all make our greatest hits into distinctive, one of a kind compositions. Not in spite of their familiarity, but because of it.

If you’re struggling to list two of your natural talents, you need to change that.

Here’s one way to start that journey.


By the way, thank you, Willie and Friends.

We deeply appreciate your time, commitment and compassion. What a show. What a state.

#TexasStrong #RebuildTX

For the broadcast live stream of the show, click here. Enjoy.

To help with the estimated $200 billion recovery efforts, please consider contributing to Rebuild Texas Fund.

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