This week Greg Allman died. Founding member and keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist for The Allman Brothers, Greg lived a full-life. Perhaps too full at times, for his cup did overflow many times, but no one would accuse Greg Allman of being boring.
Frankly, growing up I wasn’t an Allman brothers fan. Later in my life, my husband, a huge fan, re-introduced them to me. I had no choice but to listen to the Allman Brothers, and no shocker– they grew on me…a lot. Let’s say they are the perfect band to drink a cocktail on the porch to. Also, they were the “founders” of Southern Rock – so…enough said.
But regarding Greg Allman, his music didn’t influence me as much as a recent interview I saw on AXS TV’s, The Big Interview with Dan Rather. He told a story that reaffirmed a fundamental leadership belief I’ve had for sometime: You can fake it till you make it, but you better get”real”-real-quick if you want to be a transformative leader with staying power.
Allman’s story below is a lesson in understanding and accepting who you are. This is extremely important if you want to lead, support, or influence anyone (HR Leaders I am looking at you).
Allman was many, many things: musician, brother, father, pioneer. Unfortunately, Allman was also a raging alcoholic most of his life. Junkie too. Rehab 14 times. Couldn’t kick it. In this clip (starting at time stamp 4:30, but watch the whole thing), he tells a story about the night The Allman Brothers were inducted into the Rock Hall. Despite his best efforts to drink just enough to stave of the shakes but not enough to get drunk, he indeed got wasted. During his acceptance speech he couldn’t fake being OK – not possible. The abuse had caught up to him in a very personal yet public way. It crushed his spirit.
Sad thing — the more he tried to hide it, the more everyone knew his game. His pretending effected no one but himself, and it almost broke him. A man who wore his authenticity on his sleeve in every way, thought he could hide a part of himself that was perhaps most visibly and mentally (at the time) prevalent. This was not good and effected his ability to work, create and lead.
Real leaders are not pretenders. Real leaders do not pretend to be experts in areas they are not. Real leaders do not pretend to have “made-it”. Real leaders do not pretend they are always in control. Real leaders do not pretend to be flawless, scarred or troubled. Rather, they understand their flaws make them relate-able, unique and trustworthy. They understand their flaws are what make them the most “follow-able” and the most willing to ask for help when necessary.
Since Allman was so much more than just an “alcoholic”, I encourage you to check out this GREAT CBS interview (did you know he was going to go to med school?).
Also check out this groovy (quite literally) video of Gregg singing The Whipping Post….
RIP Gregg Allman — thank goodness you found your path and could share you story with all of us.