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.

Want to receive more insights on turning your natural talents into true strengths? Sign up here.

TCU Legend LaDainian Tomlinson: Success Secrets in Work and Life

What are the secret ingredients to a successful personal and professional life? How do we cut through the noise and the naysayers to stay focused on our goals?

LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU Hall of Famer and the NFL’s 5th all-time leading rusher, spoke to the TCU Alumni Association in Dallas on Friday.

Here are just a few key insights from LT’s Q&A:

Read More

How Dan Ariely Turned Tragedy Into Discovery

The Fire and The Aftermath
At 17, Dan Ariely, Duke Psychology professor and best-selling author, was badly injured in a magnesium fire at a graduation ceremony in Israel. 70% of his body was covered with burns.

As anyone can imagine, severe burn rehabilitation treatment is intensely painful. The process involves enduring a daily soaking bath, removal of bandages and the excruciating scraping away of the patient’s dead skin.

Was there any way for this young student to achieve some sort of respite and distraction from the agonizing treatments?

The daily bandage removal was torture. Why did the nurses have to so rapidly rip the bandages from his wounded body?

Read More

Two Questions You Must Answer Today

How you answer two simple questions will lead you down two very different paths in your career.

The first path is filled with growth, clarity and fulfillment.
The second path is a thorn-filled trail of misused time and energy.

1) Is there someone (at work or school) who encourages your development? 

2) Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?

If you can’t answer yes to either question, that’s ok—for now.

You’re not alone. Millions of people can’t answer yes to both questions.

As Gallup Executive Director Brandon Busteed demonstrates in his commencement speech at Augustana College, getting these questions right is crucial to your success.

Read More

A Good Coach Is Your Secret Weapon [3 of 3 Part Series]

We know from our previous two posts that a good coach helps you discover, grow and focus your natural talents (H/t Obi Wan). A good coach is also a powerful sounding board for helping you assess where you are and how you will achieve your goals (H/t Angelo Dundee).

Put another way, a coach brings out the best in you in different ways–partly internal and partly external.

Read More

Who’s Your Cornerman? [2 of 3 Part Series]

Yesterday, we discussed the importance of having a coach to help you discover, grow and focus your natural talents.

Today, we’ll discuss a second reason why having a coach is invaluable to your work, relationships and overall well-being.

Instead of Obi-wan coaching Luke in the far corners of the galaxy, let’s consider another coach in another type of corner.

Read More

2015–The Year Talent Management Strategy Changes

If best-selling talent specialist Marcus Buckingham and HR thought leader Jason Averbook prevail, talent management will look very different and vastly improved compared to 2014.

In a recent thought-provoking webinar (now posted for all here), Buckingham and Averbook urged viewers to get ahead of five key fast-moving trends to better engage their organization’s talent. Not only are these trends currently changing the talent management landscape, they are rapidly evolving as well:

Read More