The Temptations and Intention.
When I went to see The Temptations last week, I hoped to be entertained. I didn’t expect to have a life-changing experience related to the power of intention.
One of the original Temptations, Otis Williams, is 79 and still performing with the group. If you have somehow lived life without ever seeing the Temptations in any medium, know this: They move. They move constantly. Their bodies move as fluidly as lava lamps. At the same time, their movements are punctuated with the same knife edge precision as a great jazz singer’s consonants. To perform with the Temptations looks to me like it is harder physical work than Mick Jagger puts in on one of his amped-up days. And yes, Otis still moves. Mercy, can he move!
But beyond the expected, here’s what I experienced. Otis Williams is timeless. He isn’t any age. He is all ages. He is timeless because he is simultaneously in the past, fully in the present, and actively committed to the future.
By being who he is, he is a living lesson in leadership.
He honored the Temptations' past by honoring those who had been a part of it. He shared stories and memories of all the key players and a reference to the nephews and sons who are with the group now. His summary and pride in what Motown Records achieved in a decade brought me to tears.
The Tempts commanded the present, absolutely. Just the way they walked onstage was testament to their being both in their bodies and in their purpose. The costumes were beyond. The collars on their shirts were so starched, and so much a statement that one of my new missions is to find something even close to shirts like that for my beloved. They came on stage with every cell in their body communicating the confidence of belief.
And in that present, there was more than a nod to the future. There is a new album out, celebrating the Temptations at 60. Smokey Robinson wrote a song for that album that had the entire auditorium on their feet.
I lost all awareness that I was dancing in front of a chair. I exploded with joy.
Then, the next day, when I had to spend some time with my feet up, I had a chance to do some research on Otis. Here is where the intention came through most strongly for me.
In a CBS interview to promote the Temptations new album, Otis talked just a tiny bit about performing in the 60s in the ugliness of a segregated South. One night, the Tempts arrived on stage and saw that a rope bifurcated the audience, so that black and white audience members would be separated.
The Temptations performed. They performed, even with heaviness in their hearts, because they kept focus on their intention to bring their audience joy. I am certain they achieved their intention. How can I be so certain? The next year, when they performed again, the rope was down. And decades later, the now-grown man who had been the boy who put the rope up, waited after a performance to come up to Otis to make amends.
Ronna Lichtenberg is your Business Granny, whose life now is about learning and sharing how to comb through the tangles that show up in everyone’s everyday life. She started work as a kid in her Dad’s bar, in complete violation of Child Labor Laws. Since then she has had fancy jobs, gone to fancy schools and programs and has been lucky enough to have a family much cooler than she is. People tend to come to her for advice about money and the relationships that come along with it: bosses, employees, investors, stakeholders, public officials and people who just have opinions.