Between the Notes

I was recently having a chat with a good friend of mine and she told me about a quote she really likes:

La musique est le silence entre les notes.

Claude Debussy

Ok, we were speaking English so the quote was “music is the silence between the notes.” This saying has been attributed to many of the greatest composers and musicians, from Debussy to Mozart to Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Prince.

Regardless of who uttered it (remember, nothing in life is original), this quote is powerful analogy for our lives. What exactly does this mean?

Now I am not a musician but I can appreciate the beautiful interplay between notes and pauses – those silences that give space to the notes and allow them to express themselves the way they were intended.

Artistry. Just like our lives. Our journey is a series of notes and silences, complementing and filling each other, enriching our lives, resonating with others, reverberating with many successes and failures.

Yet we seem to be in love with the notes and ignore the silences. Everywhere we look, we are faced with “easy” perfection. We look for and embrace quick hacks that will get us to “bigger, better, more famous, improved, more wealthy, more beautiful, etc, etc, etc” without the necessary work – the silences.

We are in love with the myth of the “overnight success”, whether in business, sport, the arts, anything and everything. But there is no such thing as an overnight success. Let’s give credit where it is due. All of these overnight successes worked these silences. They put their souls into their work , they looked for beautiful solutions to the inevitable constraints and challenges. Did they catch a lucky break? Perhaps but never underestimate the work. The silence between their notes were no doubt plentiful.

You need to work hard. There are no hacks my friends. There is only ambition matched with work and a peppering of talent. This means getting up when we fall down. Doing it over and over again, always adjusting lest we become insane – just relentless and focused execution. There are no useful hacks.

Your life is beautiful music. Love the notes, but learn to seek the silence.

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