The Lana Turner Approach to Leading Change

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Writing the previous post on William Dawes reminded me of Lana Turner, the popular actress from the 1940s and 50s. The story goes that she was discovered drinking a Coke at a drugstore in Beverly Hills. She was whisked away to Hollywood (conveniently only two blocks away) and the rest, they say, is history.

Too many people think that if they just sit around looking beautiful or thinking great thoughts, or toiling away in their cubicle, the world will notice. Of course, that does happen sometimes. After all, it was only a mere 71 years ago that Lana Turner was discovered. So, take care of yourself and hang around for another 70 years and someone is bound to notice.

I think too many of us (me included, at times in my life) suffer from the Lana Turner Syndrome. I think Woody Allen has the antidote to that malady. He said that 80 percent of success is showing up. I continue to be amazed at the offers I get to do work (or play music) just because I show up. I show up, and I am prepared to respond. For instance, I was invited to sit in with a jazz group a couple of weeks ago at a club. Obviously, I had my horn, and I had woodshedded a number of tunes, just in case I got invited on stage. This came after being invited to sit in with another band, and I didn’t feel prepared. I promised myself that wouldn’t happen again.

The people I know who are most successful getting things accomplished in organizations live by Woody Allen’s advice.