This Is Not About You

Music industry legend Jimmy Iovine says the most valuable 5 words he’s ever heard were,

This is not about you. 

He was moving up the ranks in the music business. He felt like it was his time. He felt like he was already the man. 

Bruce Springsteen was not satisfied with the drum sounds Jimmy was getting. So Bruce decided to bring somebody else in to do what Jimmy couldn’t. And Jimmy was ready to quit. 

Jon Landau, Bruce’s manager at the time, took Jimmy aside and offered some advice.

This is not about you. 

Landau explained “the big picture” to Jimmy. How this was about Bruce’s vision for the album, not Jimmy’s feelings, and for reasons unknown to Jimmy at the time, he agreed – and got back to work. 

The new guy came to work on the drums and couldn’t get the sound right either. He and Jimmy kept going until Bruce was satisfied. Eventually, Darkness on The Edge of Town came out and even if you don’t know the record, I’m pretty sure you know Bruce Springsteen is kind of a big deal. 

Jimmy didn’t quit in the moment because he realized his job was to serve a broader mission. 

Yes, his ego was hurting. But if the mission is still worth it, if the people you’re doing the work with and for are going places, sometimes it is going to sting a little. 

Because that’s what the mission is – it’s not all about you. It’s all about the mission. 

h/t Jimmy Iovine’s 2013 USC commencement speech

ps. Listen to those drums with fresh ears:

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