I Did It My Way

“I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain…more, much more than this, I did it my way.” ~ Frank Sinatra

Awhile ago, Camille and I attended an event here in Ajijic, Mexico where the speaker talked about summing up a life. Remember, we’re in an expat community where most folks are of a certain age and retired. The subject of his talk was Frank Sinatra’s song “I Did It My Way.”

In case you don’t know the song, take about four minutes and watch Sinatra sing it here on YouTube. Go ahead, take a look. I’ll wait. 

You’re back? What did you think?

Not A Fan

I’ve never been a big fan of Frank Sinatra. He was favored more by my parents’ generation, as they came of age at about the same time. 

As for the lyrics to what became Sinatra’s signature song, not a big fan either. In fact, I was pleased to read that according to his daughter, Sinatra felt the song was “self-serving and self-indulgent,” but “he couldn’t get it off his shoe,” it had “stuck” with him.

So why am I writing about this song, that I’m not crazy about? 

Mostly because I was intrigued with the way the event speaker used the lyrics to sum up the phases of his life and reflect on them. He traced his childhood, his education, his initial career as a physician and medical educator, and currently as a spiritual advisor. 

He noted how doing it “his way” had evolved through each stage of his life. As a precocious child, “his way” was to please adults. As a smart teenager, it was to please girls. As a physician and teacher, “his way” was to show up as the smartest person in the room, even while battling alcoholism. It wasn’t until in AA that he began to re-examine “his way” and the impact it had among the people in his life.   

Like-Minded to Heart-Minded

What he discovered was that he shifted from wanting to be with “like-minded” people to “heart-minded” people. That is, rather than desiring to be with other smart folks — but not as smart as him — he now wants to hang out with people who desire to contribute to something bigger than themselves. People who lead with their hearts, not necessarily their minds.

Doing It My Way

So of course, I reflected on my own life and what “doing it my way” entailed. 

Unlike the speaker, I wasn’t all that precocious — just an average kid. And, as a child of a career army officer, who moved every three years or so, “my way” was to fit in wherever I was. This fitting-in tended to be “my way” for a good part of my life. I was always trying to not stand out for any reason.

It probably wasn’t until my 40s that I began to find “my way” professionally, where I realized that I didn’t always see things in the same way as others; and had gained enough confidence to speak up and express my ideas. 

I’m not sure what led to this new version of “my way.” I think it was just the accumulation of being me and observing people in the many different environments I found myself over the years. 

The one common element, however, was the desire to be, like the speaker we heard,  part of something bigger than me. Something where I contributed to the betterment of the group I was part of. 

Dan Pink talks about this in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Amazon Kindle link). He notes that one of the three main motivators of employees is purpose — where they can be assured that their contributions count for something significant to the effort they’re engaged in.

One might make the argument that this sense of purpose may be driving the “Great Resignation” / “Great Reshuffle” where employees are leaving their current work in droves. 

The question is can they define “their way” as they seek a new purpose?

And You?

Can you define “your way?”

Has “doing it your way” changed at all through your life? If so, can you define how those changes have occurred? Can you determine how “doing it your way” will manifest next?

Email me at scott@scottwoodardcoachingdcoaching.com. I want to hear what you’ve got to say.

Image source: https://bit.ly/3tyHe83.

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