Why I Play the Blues

September 6, 2011

BB King is possibly the world’s most famous bluesman – yet he can’t sing and play at the same time. Oh, and he’s not that hot at chords either. Perhaps what he needs is some effective management. Let’s the scene- BB comes off stage after a gig at the Apollo and …here comes the manager…

BB? Got a sec? Just wanted to give you some feedback.

Sure, son. Go ahead.

Well, I couldn’t help but noticing that you didn’t sing and play at the same time out there. That’s fine but It’s just that all the competition’s doing it now. Clapton, Buddy Guy – all those fellas singing and playing – simultaneously.

‘fraid I just can’t do it. When I sing I gotta stop playing. There it is.


Uh-huh. Can’t do it.

Well, maybe now we’re getting to the root of things here. Don’t you think that’s typical of your attitude. ‘Can’t’ ,My woman left me.’ ‘Worry, worry, worry.’ It’s quite frankly all a bit negative. Can’t you sing some happy songs? And a few chords wouldn’t go amiss out there either.

Maybe we should thank God that BB hasn’t had that kind of feedback. Despite his weaknesses, BB has managed to win fifteen Grammy awards, record more than fifty albums and has even made an appearance on sesame street. Luckily BB didn’t worry too much about his limitations. When he sings he just stops playing – and he made sure that the single notes he plays just about knock everyone’s socks off. BB King didnt worry about his weaknesses and focused on what he could do and as a result Rolling Stone Magazine named him the 3rd Greatest Guitarist of all time.

The message is simple. We should spend more time focusing on people’s strengths. When was the last time you told one of your teachers how good they were? We don’t want to give these poor people the blues.

For lots more on making the most of your strengths visit the Marcus Buckingham site.

3 Responses to “Why I Play the Blues”

  1. Christina Cattaneo Says:

    Hi Mike,

    Maybe the greatest BBKing could have answered, “Can’t do it as good” rather than just can’t. Bet €10 he can! 😉

    How did BBKing get to be so good? His collection of awards surely guided him towards concentrating on doing what he is good at.

    Concentrating on what we’re good at is a personal responsibility, I believe. It’s just that lots of us just don’t have an inkling of what we are good at until someone else objectively tells us. Is it because we’re all so concentrated on compensating for our all too familiar weaknesses?

    I’m going to play to my strengths from now on…..

    Thanks for inspiring !


  2. This made me laugh out loud yesterday, thanks for brightening my day! It also really made me think about my teaching, and stop and think about whether I’ve been giving my students enough positive feedback recently (I’m a teacher, not a teacher trainer, but the message is the same I guess). I decided the answer was probably not, and I felt so inspired that I typed up all my students’ dialogues that they wrote for homework into one document, with comments for everyone to see how good they were. I also put in questions to help the students to think about the good language while reading them. I’ve never done this before, so it’s a bit of an experiment, and we’ll see what they think when I give them back today! I was going to upload the document here, to show exactly what I mean, but I can’t see a way of uploading it into the comment box. But thanks anyway for making me question what I’m doing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: