The Business of Life

focus photo of brown sheep under blue sky

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A few years ago, one of my articles was published in an educational magazine of interest to high school and college-aged flute students and their teachers. (My former career was as a classical musician.) I had written the article not long after the passing of the well-known and highly respected French flutist, Louis Moyse, my teacher and musical mentor of 30 years.

I came across the article again a few days ago and was taken by the fact that the musical “Life Lessons” I had shared with other flutists can easily apply to those of us in today’s business world.

What follows are 10 of the many memorable quotes I remember from Louis Moyse, followed by my translations. To apply the lessons to business life, I have added just a few words to my original writing and have shown them in parentheses.

  1. “This is your territory; mark it!” — Find your place in the (business) world and make the most of it!
  2. “Start from nothing. Then, allow yourself to grow.” — Make knowledge and self-improvement your lifelong quest.
  3. “Don’t be a flutist; it’s much more important to be a musician.” — Look at the details, certainly, but don’t forget to focus on the broader (business) picture. Think strategically.
  4. “It may be marked ‘Grave’ but it’s not necessarily about death!”— Don’t make things out to be worse than they really are.
  5. “You must learn to be your own teacher.” — You are responsible for your own destiny. Learn from your mistakes and move on.
  6. “You need to suffer!”— With (business) experience comes understanding.
  7. “Be more free, like a sheep. Sometimes it helps not to have too much brains (sic).” — Don’t over-think things; trust your (business) instincts.”
  8. “There is no such thing as ‘instant flute.’ You have to work at it!” — Success (in music or business) is not supposed to come easily.
  9. “Sometimes, the most difficult thing is to do nothing.” — Some things (in business) are best left alone.
  10. “Make it simple.” — Clear straightforward (business) communication has a power all its own.

by Rebecca Cochran

Write. Just Write.


Ever had writer’s block? I have. (And, probably will have again — many times.) A technique I experimented with recently is this:

Write. Just write.

I sat down in a coffee shop with my tablet and just started writing, seemingly without thinking. I typed random thoughts. I pushed myself to simply move my fingers, concentrating on the process.

At first, those thoughts seemed unrelated, but within the span of five minutes or less, I realized that those thoughts were related! It was as if my “data dump” of miscellaneous thoughts, once they appeared on my screen, suddenly began to make sense to me. I was able to quickly connect my “dots of randomness” into a cohesive story.

Now, this “story” is not necessarily one that I’m ready to share here on my public blog. It’s the technique of unblocking that I feel is worth sharing.

Try it. Let me know if it works for you.

Write. Just write.

by Rebecca Cochran

What’s Your Favorite Word?

wordsRecently, someone asked me, “What’s your favorite word?” I was taken aback; I’d never been asked that question before and I’ve never considered having a favorite word.

When asked about my favorite color (blue) or my favorite composer (J.S. Bach), my answers are at the ready. But, my favorite word? I have to think about this.

I write quite a bit: web content, ad hoc poetry, all sorts of things, so, of course, I’ve developed a diverse vocabulary. The more important questions: Do I need a favorite word? Do I have to choose just one? Can I change my mind, i.e., my word?

I asked a professional editor if she has a favorite word. She responded so quickly that it frightened me. Have I been missing out on something all these years? (By the way, her favorite word is “persnickety.”)

If I decide to settle in on a favorite word, I’m thinking I want it to be something complex, out-of-the-ordinary, even. “Prestidigitation” perhaps? I love all those syllables and it’s so fun to say aloud. Plus, people often ask me what it means, so it can be a conversation starter.

Or, wait! Perhaps my favorite word should be short and simple, going for the “less is more” approach. If I select this route, perhaps I’ll choose “we.” I like the inclusivity of “we,” plus, it steers me away from my natural tendency to assume (wrongly) that I don’t need others to make things happen.

As I’m writing, I’m recalling a book I recently read in which I encountered a word previously unknown to me on nearly every page (and the book weighed in at 600 pages)! Although this made for a slower reading pace, I enjoyed the opportunity to beef up my vocabulary.

Back to the idea of having a favorite word, maybe I will choose one. I could choose something neither too complex nor too simple; something sort of “middle of the road,” yet meaningful to me. Then, I could embed the word in my everyday spoken and written vocabulary. I could make it part of my personal trademark.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite word? Should I get one?

by Rebecca Cochran