We watched the HBO documentary, The Defiant Ones, recently. If you haven’t watched this 4-part series featuring the careers of the legendary record producer, Jimmy Iovine, and the rap artist and producer, Dr. Dre, you should. It’s about their rise to the top of their game and if you’re an entrepreneur there are many lessons to take away from it.
So. Jimmy’s talking to the camera at one point and he makes reference to blinders, the kind they put on horses.
Did you know that horse’s eyes are positioned on the sides of their heads?
This is because horses were traditionally a hunted animal. Not hunters. They have peripheral vision…so they can see everything around them—see predators coming at them from a distance. It sounds like a good thing, and at times it can be. But it also presents a problem when these horses are asked to race. It’s a problem because they can see things on their sides and slightly behind them, they can end up getting distracted and run off course.
So, professional trainers place blinders on their racehorses. Blinders keep the horse’s eyes focused on what’s ahead, rather than what’s at their side or behind them. As a result, what the horses around them are doing doesn’t distract racehorses wearing blinders.
Jimmy Iovine (a street hustler from Brooklyn), was trying to describe one of his great strengths as an entrepreneur. When he wants to achieve something, he puts his blinders on. Then he stares straight ahead. He’s not distracted. He doesn’t see or hear what others around him are doing.
Jimmy is a rare animal.
But you and I are also rare animals.
We’re willing to take risk and put ourselves out there every day without a safety net. But it’s not enough just to be in the game. We also have to figure out how to train ourselves to block out certain things, so we can stay focused long enough to win the game.
We can learn something here from horse trainers and Jimmy Iovine.
Don’t get us wrong. You can learn a lot from observing the people around you, and we’re not saying you shouldn’t look around at the results of others. If your peers are having superior results, by all means, look at what they’re doing and try to steal a best practice or two from them.
What we ARE saying is that distractions are everywhere, and we mean EVERYWHERE.
If you want to achieve something as an entrepreneur with your product or organization, then stop looking around for the sake of just looking around. In fact, stop hearing things. Stop listening to anyone that’s telling you that you can’t do what you want to do, or that it’s, “Real hard,” or that, “Most people fail,” or any of the other random nonsense.
Stop worrying about what others are DOING or SAYING around you. If they are moving faster than you, who cares? If they are moving slower, who cares? If they are saying it can’t be done…who cares? None of that crap matters. Put on your blinders and look straight ahead at your goal and objective.
Jimmy Iovine, the street hustler, did.
Andre Young (Dr. Dre) did.
There were impediments coming at them from every direction. Dre grew up poor, living on the streets of Compton. Jimmy Iovine’s father worked the docks in New York and wanted Jimmy to work the docks too. All Jimmy and Dre wanted to do was make great and memorable music. They wanted to make an imprint on their industry. The two guys that didn’t attend college now have an entire academy named after them at USC.
Their blinders were on.
They knew what they wanted to achieve. They weren’t worried about who was saying they couldn’t. After many bumps and grinds and setbacks they forged successful music industry careers separately. Then those careers intersected. Then piracy and eventually streaming happened and threatened to kill (or at least damage) their industry. But they were both looking ahead. And they got an idea called Beats. And that idea developed and morphed into more than just headphones.
And then Apple paid them 3.2 billion.
Do you have your blinders on?
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