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4 Principles from Prince

Prince - Kiss

Prince - Kiss

While many people’s obsession with Prince revolves around “Purple Rain,” the song that first captured my imagination was “Kiss.” It was released the year that most of my family immigrated (yes, legally!) to the United States. For me, that was the summer of both Springsteen and Prince. I would spend hours watching and listening to both men, in awe of their talent. In the spirit of Kiss, and keeping it short and sweet, I will share 4 career lessons I take from his life.
Prince - Kiss

Prince – Kiss

  1. Develop yourself. If you like something, master your craft. For many songs, Prince received all the credits (vocals, arranger, producer, engineer, etc.) Of course, he collaborated with many people, but he did not leave his career to chance or to the whims of his industry. As a result, he was able to be both prolific and produce quality work.
  2. Trust others. Sometimes you are not the right vessel for your message. Prince wrote music under pseudonyms for many other artists. If a listener had known ahead of time they were about to listen to a Prince song, would they have changed the channel? Likewise, in professional settings, you don’t always have to be the one to give a particular message. Find people you can trust, and let them be your ambassador.
  3. Be Generous. Many people owe their “big break” to Prince, but there were also a lot of good he did without the knowledge of the beneficiaries. If you’re constantly seeking acknowledgement for every single thing you do in life, you will surely be disappointed. And most likely no one will be able to stand you because you never miss an opportunity to throw it in their face. It certainly does not mean that you should give away everything for free, and that leads to my last point.
  4. Own your labor. As brilliant as the man was, he was not immune to being taken advantage of, and he did something about it. Some people thought he was petulant for protesting a bad contract, since he was making more money than he could spend in a lifetime. For Prince, it was not about the money, as much as it was about having terms that respected his value. Learning the intricacies of the business of music, in addition to teaching himself to play different instruments, allowed him to maximize and retain more of the capital that he generated.
You may not have agreed with Prince’s religion, image, or have been a fan of his musical work, but in life, we have to learn to take the good and leave the rest. When you become good at what you do, you are not so desperate to accept just anything. Passion, mastery, humility, and respect are just as important as the hard skills required to perform your job or to run your business.