Lessons From Garth Brooks
On Family And Business
“I don’t know who these 3 girls are but I’m about to find out.”
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Ever hear of Garth Brooks? C’mon, of course you have. Even if you’re not much of a country music fan you’ve heard of him.
I recently watched a documentary of his life story and took from it some very powerful lessons on family and business.
Garth Brooks has been called a legend in his own time. He’s the best selling artist of all time in the US. During the 90’s he brought country music into the mainstream. He brought it to the world over.
He was at the height of his career, with the ability to push even higher and earn even more and more money, so what did he do?
Garth Brooks up and quit. That’s right. He retired. Shut it all down. Just like that. It was done!
Why? Why on earth would he do that?
He says it was for his kids. His three girls; Taylor, August, and Allie.
It was for his kids.
Garth’s first love was his music. Through it he had meaning and purpose. It’s what mattered most to him. It fuelled him. It drove him. He manifested that meaning through building an amazing career and an empire. It was how he contributed to the world, in his own unique way. He said in his career he never really worked a day in his life. He loved it that much.
Then his first child was born. He said, with the birth of his first daughter he realized the world stopped and began spinning the other way.
He went on to say it’s “the first time in your life that you understand everything. What unconditional love is.”
Perhaps the most powerful statement was when he said…
“All of a sudden I found myself. For the first time ever, I found something that meant more and I loved more than music itself. And thus the fight inside would begin.”
When Passions Collide
He had two powerful passions. Two powerful purposes in his life that were in conflict with each other.
For he and his band the fame, the success, the work all took its toll on the relationships they each had away from the band. The relationships away from the work and away from the music. At one point Garth said they were on the road 300 days of the year.
It was an unsustainable path. He said “fame doesn’t come without consequences. It is what I asked for. It’s what I wanted.” Then he had a wake up call. An ah ha moment that changed it all.
He was talking to one of his daughters and she said the word “bolth” in a sentence. It stopped him in his tracks. He asked what she said. She repeated “bolth”. He wondered where that came. The word is both. There is no “l”.
Then it hit him. In that instant he realized it was the influence of her nannies and their pronunciation. He realized he wasn’t raising his own kids. Someone else was. He realized he had neglected his wife and his 3 kids. He gave someone else his job as husband and dad.
Garth graded himself on his focus through the 90’s. It was an A for music but a D- or F at home. His words were… “I don’t know who these 3 girls are but I’m about to find out.”
Garth Brooks Next Phase
And so, he retired and dedicated himself to his family. Ultimately the decision came too late for his marriage but he and his soon to be ex wife found a way to raise their girls together. In his announcement to the world of his retirement he said he “feels good about it. Knowing what he is trading it for.”
I thought one of the most powerful moments was when his daughter August talked about how most people would move their family to adjust or adapt to business or an opportunity for work but her dad did the opposite. He came home. Through her tears of joy you could feel what an important thing this was to her. A kid just needs their mom or dad to be there. Beyond anything else, just be there with them. For them.
During the next 14 years they found their way. They focused on Family First. Garth described that time and those experiences shared with his family as “the best days.” He channeled his creative energy into projects at home. But eventually his meaning, his form of contribution to the world, his music would call him once again.
Empty nest syndrome was something he saw in his mom and how she struggled with it. As his daughters grew up and began to leave to go to college he felt it too. Then the pull grew stronger. The pull of performing once again. And so, he began to tour again and rekindle that other passion.
I had the pleasure of seeing Garth Brooks live on that tour. The energy was palpable. His passion for his music and his fans was right there for all of us to experience. It was one of the best concerts I have ever seen, and I’ve seen some pretty good ones.
“A kid just needs their mom or dad to be there. Beyond anything else, just be there with them. For them.”
Your Own Path
We all have ups and downs in our lives. At work and at home. That ebb and flow of life defines us. It plays a part in making us who we are. Even through the bad times, especially the bad times, we learn and we grow and make decisions moving forward. Decision upon decision frames our “in the moment” experience of our life.
Garth Brooks shared his path and the ups and downs he lived. He didn’t shy away from things he wished was different. He simply owned them and made them different moving forward. I wonder how much the time he spent at home manifested in the level of passion he brought when I saw him in concert. I imagine it was a lot.
Now we can’t all just retire and give up our business or our income to be at home with our family. Garth had the means to easily do so. But I do feel we can all learn from his experience of some pretty extreme peaks and valleys.
- We can all check in to see what is truly at the heart of all that is important to us in our world.
- We can look closely at how we’re actually living our lives right now and what kind of inner turmoil might be brewing, pulling us in two different directions at once.
- We can envision a balance between our passions in business and our highest priorities at home. Then, and only then, we can begin to create the change that will allow us to experience a life and livelihood that matters each and every day for the rest of our days. One that you’re proud of. One that your spouse can be proud of. And, perhaps most importantly, one your kids are thrilled about.
Remember Your Why
Remember, they just need their mom or dad to be there. Beyond anything else, just be there with them. For them.
As Garth says in my favourite song of his… “I could have missed the pain but I’d have had to miss the dance.”
Life will throw you curve balls and it will lead to some difficult times with some powerful lessons to be learned. Those lessons learned will make you stronger. Ultimately what you do with those powerful lessons can open you up to fulfillment and happiness.
But it doesn’t mean you have to hit those same traps that others have. When the lesson you need to learn comes from someone else’s experience it can be almost as powerful as you experiencing it yourself. What’s even better is that you can accelerate time in applying that lesson to your own life.
You won’t miss your dance. You’ll just make it that much better!
so what’s your next step?
Creating the change you want can be hard if you go it alone.