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June 7-8, 2019 in Mill Valley, CA.
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What did Miles Davis hear?

What did Miles Davis hear?

I hope you are enjoying your Summer with relaxation, play, musings, reflection and/or massive productivity. Summer is a good time for all of this.

As an entrepreneur or small business owner, these times provide the spaciousness to get clarity about a number of things:

  • a new and bigger vision or goal
  • refinement of ideal clients
  • how to structure the way you work
  • focusing on different priorities
  • creating more meaning in your life
  • taking actions that are making a difference in the world

We need these times of reflection to lay the groundwork for moving into a high and productive energy for the Fall.

Earlier this month, I came across a powerful and profound video that really stuck with me. I invite you to stop what you are doing (if you can) and watch it.

It is a short, 2 1/2 minutes, of Herbie Hancock sharing an experience of how Miles Davis handled what he (Herbie Hancock) felt was a big mistake made while the two of them were performing.


There are SO many powerful nuggets that Hancock expresses in this video. But there are 2 that really caught my attention.

The first is his explanation of the WAY that Miles Davis heard the “mistake” that Hancock had made.

Hancock’s comments led me to ask myself, “what is MY experience when someone else makes a mistake?” In fact, when someone does make a mistake, is it even a mistake at all or is it simply not meeting my expectations in the moment? What actually makes something that happens a mistake?

When something occurs outside of expectations, how can WE respond in a way that makes it even more brilliant and powerful for everyone? Can we hear someone else’s “mistake” and transform it into a valuable contribution?

The other profound nugget that caught my attention was the way Davis responded to the situation.

Hancock said, “Miles didn’t hear what I did as a mistake, he heard it as an event.” Miles embraced the situation and adjusted his response. Just as his innovations were the catalyst for Jazz today, he took that ‘mistake’ as an opportunity to empower, transform, and make the moment beautiful, forever impacting Herbie Hancock.

This is inspiring leadership in my book!

A powerful and inspiring leader takes responsibility and holds themselves accountable for everything that happens on their “watch” and in their environment. They don’t assign blame, shame or judgement to others. They take OWNERSHIP and make the necessary corrections and appropriate responses to steer the circumstances of life back on course. This takes a particular mindset, as well as humility, and requires that leaders act on behalf of the greater good of everyone.

Miles Davis’ demonstration of leadership serves as a great role model for all of us. His response to the circumstance could have gone a myriad of ways, but Davis took the highest ground; he took the “make it right for everyone” ground; it was inclusive and brought everyone, himself, Hancock, the ensemble and the audience to a more elevated place.

Hancock ends by saying that, “Miles took poison and made it into medicine. That was what Miles taught me.

I hope you found watching this video as valuable and inspiring as I did.

What were the nuggets you heard from watching this video? I would love to hear what resonated for you. 

Much love, Rita

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