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Moving Hearts and Minds through Music

Moving Hearts and Minds through Music


My relationship with music is an ever-changing adventure. There are times when I am so connected to what I am playing that the music simply flows through me—as if the music and I are one. There are other times when I can’t even bring myself to pick up my guitar. If my experiences with music have taught me anything, it is that my performance depends substantially if not entirely on my state of mind. When I play, my mind is in harmony with my surroundings, my thoughts, feelings and sense of presence. Over time, I’ve become pretty adept at bringing myself into a place where I perform my best. However, this hasn’t always been the case. There was a long time when I had lost touch with my ability. Dystonia and the debilitating effect it had on my hand affected me in many more ways than mechanical. It had a chain reaction on my emotions, my outlook and my concentration. It took a long time to overcome my emotional and psychological reaction to dystonia. Thankfully, I succeeded. When I did, my outlook about what was going on had changed; dystonia lost its power over me. I adapted and the music found its way through me once again. In retrospect, the physical damage that dystonia had caused was not as severe as what it had done to my attitude.
I feel fortunate that my work in music has heightened my awareness of my attitude and emotional state of mind. Having achieved a sense of “flow” when I play my music, I am able to recreate it for myself and my audience. I believe that having been in touch with this amazing sensation, and wanting desperately to have it back again, was the reason why I was able to persist with relearning how to play the guitar left-handed, regardless of the time and struggle that it took. My experience with dystonia was an exercise in the power of mindset. I learned that I had a choice between creating new vision and finding myself stuck in despair without the ability to even try. It was the music I had nearly lost that taught me this. The interesting thing about music is how it transcends words and intellect and operates on another level of consciousness entirely. Because music doesn’t deal with words or thought, you don’t argue with it. Music simply flows through you and carries you wherever you let it. I have devoted my career to exploring how music melds with people’s minds and emotions. It is an experience I share with my audience when I play. I want them to experience their own sensation of “flow” so that they, too, will be inspired and moved through music.
Moving Hearts and Minds through Music

Moving Hearts and Minds through Music


Inspiration is crucial to the creation of anything. Like music, inspiration doesn’t happen on an intellectual level, but on a higher plane. It, too, transcends thoughts and words. I believe that inspiration is love, whether it comes in the form of music or a business idea. Once you have learned to tap into your inspiration and allowed it to flow through your imagination and attach to your dreams, anything is possible. Because inspiration is sourced in love, it gives you the strength to persevere. Unfortunately, we don’t learn much about inspiration in school. At least, I never did. I had to find it for myself. For years it evaded me, until I discovered what I loved to do. Thankfully, I built my career around it. If you’re lucky, you’ll have landed on inspiration, either accidentally or through persistence, and discovered what you love to do. You know when you’ve been inspired, because it changes everything. It will serve you in ways that no amount of knowledge can. In a culture like ours that places a high value on things that can be counted and seen, inspiration can sometimes seem out of touch and unreal. However, when you find yourself in a difficult situation, such as I did, inspiration is the source of strength that will see you through.
The next time you find yourself stuck in gridlock, when reasoning and rationalizing are getting you nowhere, stop for a moment and take inventory of your senses. You’re probably arguing with your own intellect—or somebody else’s. Get out of your head space and into your heart. Find a quiet place, go for a walk or listen to your favorite music and let it be the vehicle that takes you to a higher plane. You’ll know when you arrive because your frustrations will settle down and your inspiration will begin to flow. When it does, pay attention. Listen to the music that your inspiration plays for you. Let your distractions and doubt fade away and the direction you’ve been seeking will become clear.
Moving Hearts and Minds through Music

Moving Hearts and Minds through Music

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My Personal Challenge to You

My Personal Challenge to You


My longtime fans have heard me say numerous times from the stage that the world needs more people who love what they do. This is not just my advice to young musicians whom I teach and mentor. It is my personal challenge to infuse the power of love into everything I do.
It astounds me when I read about the number of people who go to work every morning hating their jobs. Depending on the reports you read from publishers like CBS and Forbes, somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of people are overworked, overstressed and would rather be doing something else with their lives. That means that most of the people you encounter every day, from the person who works on your car to the person who fixes your teeth, do not enjoy what they do.
What about you? Does that news report describe how you feel about your job, your work? What about the people you live and work with? Is it true for them, too? Not only is it hard for you to put up with doing work that you don’t enjoy, it’s hard for everyone else, too. We are all sharing one another’s stress. At the same time, there probably are all sorts of good reasons why we cannot abandon the work we have in front of us. There are people who depend on us. We have financial commitments to maintain. It may be hard to find another job in a certain profession or income range.
My Personal Challenge to You

My Personal Challenge to You


What if you could have both: work that you love and a living that you can maintain? You can, and it’s entirely within your reach. Like I’ve said before, “Nothing is impossible.” I’m not saying that it’s always going to be easy. Easy and possible are not the same thing. However, you need to ask yourself, “Is it worth it?” Is there a longing within you to do something that you have been putting off, to express something that you haven’t fully expressed? The yearning that you feel for something that you’ve not yet pursued or experienced is there for a reason. I call it love. Every time you take something you love, box it up and suppress it, you deny it to yourself and everyone else around you. Is there any wonder as to why there is so much unhappiness in the world?
I’m not asking you to do something drastic like sacrificing everything you have to pursue your unrealized dream (although history is filled with people who have done exactly that). The pursuit and mastery of the gifts within us are not always achieved in one swift action, but through a series of small, disciplined and organized activities that lead to something bigger and better overall. I am asking you to begin by answering the call. Take a stand and make a commitment to yourself to achieve your greater desire.
Music has taught me the value of practice and of making space in my life to do it. The compositions that come easy for me today were at one time out of my reach. If you know my story, then you know that most of what I have achieved today was beyond my grasp not once, but twice before. My affliction with dystonia erased years of practice from my life. Virtually overnight it removed my means of making a living for my family. However, it did not erase the love for what I do. The music inside of me that I had yet to share is what eventually helped me to find a new direction with an even better destination.
My Personal Challenge to You

My Personal Challenge to You


The same is true for you, whatever your “music” happens to be. If you love it and allow time and space for it to flow, then you cannot help but create more of it in your life. All too often, we are quick to make judgments that prevent us from even attempting this. Our fast-paced culture tends to demand immediate and tangible results from what we do. In the process, if we are not careful, we short-change ourselves from those things that are most precious to us. Nature does not create its beauty in a day. When the seeds are deep in the soil, it is hard for us to imagine the fruits that will someday emerge. Through patience, faith and persistent vigilance, new life will sprout from the seeds you have planted, which you can then cultivate (through practice) and eventually harvest.
The choice to pursue what you love doesn’t have to be an either-or proposition. You don’t have to choose either the life you love or the job you hate. It isn’t necessary to abandon all other conventions in your life including your job, whether you hate it right now or not. For the moment, all you need to do is ask yourself, “Is what I love to do important enough to me to make space for it in my life?” If your answer to that question is “Yes,” then take out your calendar and build in some time for practice. Have faith in the process and know that what you are pursuing is worthwhile. The seed you have planted through this beginning with start to grow. The skills you acquire will spill into your work life and the love you experience from it will stay with you throughout your day. Eventually, the fruits of your labor will attract the attention of others around you and the work that you love will occupy a bigger part of your life. When I accepted the challenge to infuse love into everything I did, it made all the difference in the world to me. When you decide to make it your challenge, you will see the difference in your life, too.
 

Impossible Redefined

Impossible Redefined

A podcast from Billy McLaughlin – Impossible Redefined

How many of you have expectations from your boss or from your board members, shareholders that this year you’re going to have to achieve what’s simply impossible in today’s business climate. If it’s not at work, maybe you’re faced with the impossible task of fixing relationships or mending fences or guiding a teenager or facing a personal change, a health crisis, in your personal life away from work. These are all places that we face this feeling of having to achieve something that’s impossible. There are so many different ways that I have faced those feelings of having to do something that had never been done before, at least that I had never done before. Listen to the podcast here…

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A Creative Way to Deal with Change

A Creative Way to Deal with Change


One of our greatest birthrights as human beings is our capacity to adapt. Each of us can change—and we can change by choice more quickly than any other species on the planet. When we choose to adapt, we stop thinking about what we’ve lost and begin to make new discoveries. What typically results is a paradigm shift—a change in focus, mindset and behavior. As a musician, I have learned that there are two ways of coping with change: one is to accept it; the other is to create it.
Creating change of any kind, whether it’s a new musical arrangement or a new product or service, begins with a four-step process:
1) Visioning makes whatever you are thinking of creating possible.
2) Taking action makes whatever you have chosen to create accessible.
3) Practicing makes the results of your creation perfect.
4) Celebrating makes the efforts that you put into creating significant.
A Creative Way to Deal with Change

A Creative Way to Deal with Change


As you encounter change in your life, whether it’s by chance or by choice, follow these simple four-steps and you’ll find the process easier and the outcome more certain.

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The Power of Music to Motivate Change

The Power of Music to Motivate Change


Music makes things happen. It can strike a chord in people’s hearts, unite them, awaken their feelings and stir them into action. History is filled with songs, ballads and drum beats that inspired a new vision—such as the making of a new republic, recognizing civil rights, and feeding the world (which Live Aid pursued in the 1980s).
Think of the ways in which music moves large groups of people in your world: a band proudly performing a John Philip Sousa march in an Independence Day parade, a high-school jazz ensemble rousing fans at a homecoming game or a lonely trumpet playing taps at a Memorial Day observance. Music has been part of humanity since the beginning of time. It is so integral to our culture that it becomes easy to take it for granted. Yet the power of music to organize, persuade and enliven the spirits of people is irrefutable.
Mythologist Joseph Campbell, whose works inspired artists George Lucas and the Grateful Dead, saw music as something that can turn on life’s energy. He hadn’t given much thought to rock music until he had been invited by Bob Weir to attend a Grateful Dead concert along with 8000 young fans. Amazed by the exuberance he observed, he described the rapture as a “wonderful fervent loss of self in the larger self of a homogeneous community.”
You don’t have to organize a concert or showcase a world-famous rock band to leverage the power of music to inspire your group or heighten the awareness of a special cause. There are many ways in which music can enlighten, entwine and invigorate the people on your team. For example, you can use music as part of a ritual for your gathering. Have you ever attended a seminar, play or pep rally that was preceded by a musical recording? Music sets the tone of the event; it helps people to prepare emotionally and energetically.
The Power of Music to Motivate Change

The Power of Music to Motivate Change


Consider designating a theme song to represent the work that you and your team are gathering together to perform. It will symbolize the feelings and energies that the team generates as a group. It is something that each member of the team can take back with them as a reminder of the work they are doing and the goals they are striving to achieve. When they sing or listen to the theme song in the car or while working independently, it immediately triggers the same sensations as the group experience.
More importantly, music allows for moments of celebration that breaks up the stress and strain of work. Through ritual, rhythm and ceremony, music adds the essential element of celebration to the process of creation, whether that creation has to do with a job or personal aspiration. As with the ritual of opening meetings or events with a particular type of music, the rhythm of the music also sets an energetic tone. There is also rhythm to the celebration itself. Like taking in a deep breath of inspiration, celebrating with music gives people a chance to reflect upon what they’ve achieved together, realign their purpose, refresh and restore their energies to carry on with what they’ve begun.
When you attend a presentation by Billy McLaughlin, you will recognize immediately the homogeneous community that Joseph Campbell described. When hearts are joined the mind opens up as one and new shared insights begin to form. At moments such as these, inspiration opens the gridlock caused by indecision, confusion or fears. From Billy’s perspective, nothing is impossible. Celebrate with him through his message and music and you will understand his sincerity when he says “Make every day the best day you possibly can!”
The next time that you encounter a new project or become saddled with a difficult task, explore the rhythms of the mood that takes you to a place beyond struggle and doubt. Find a musical arrangement—lyrics or melody—that represents not the condition that challenges you, but the destination you hope to reach. It’s a technique as old as time; it has moved others to achieve great things throughout history and it will work for you, too.

Billy Presents:

Billy Presents:

ARRM


Billy Presents:
McLaughlin will speak at ARRM Annual Conference

On September 26, Billy will open the annual leadership conference of the Association of Residential Resources in Minnesota (ARRM). ARRM is a nonprofit association comprised of community services providers that support people with disabilities with such essentials as housing and daily support.
Billy’s message of reinvention is extremely relevant to ARRM. Changing demographics and spiraling healthcare costs have made the current care-giving system unsustainable in light of declining revenue at both the state and federal levels. It is a challenge that seeks a creative solution. Fortunately, ARRM is taking a proactive approach to reform and rebalance the services its members provide. Recognizing that innovation occurs in the private sector, ARRM is working to facilitate solutions to the problem by removing barriers to innovation and choice. ARRM has designed a “cost-saving plan to deliver the right disability services in the right setting at the right time.” According to Bruce Nelson, chief executive officer of ARRM, “Part of the movement is to recreate services that are self-directed by people with disabilities and their families—to enable greater independence wherever possible.”
Rather than allowing funding cutbacks to define the future, ARRM is presenting the legislature with a “Blueprint for Reform,” a plan to unlock the traditional group home model and help facilitate the movement of people who want a more independent style of living. Meanwhile, the plan would allow for supervised care to continue for those individuals who want and need it. Last spring, 90% of the Blueprint for Reform was adopted by the legislature. Nelson added, “Support was bipartisan and included the governor.”
Now that adoption of the Blueprint is in process, ARRM will soon be positioned to move forward with implementing its plan. Members will be confronted with big changes in their delivery systems. The focus of ARRM’s conference this year will be on opening the door to innovation and invention while addressing questions related to “Why should I do it?” Benefits of affordability, independence and a preferred lifestyle will drive a different business plan for members’ future. The conference will enable upper management and decision makers to collaborate on design opportunities and tools. Billy’s presence will add perspective to the changes ahead for community services providers. “With any big change, we always have a choice to either focus on what’s working or what’s not. This event will be an opportunity for participants to design a better future than simply leaving it to chance. My goal is to inspire the creative thinking needed to make that happen,” he said.
For more information about ARRM and its Blueprint for Reform, as well as home and community-based programs that support Minnesotans with disabilities, visit www.arrm.org.

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What Will You Create Today?

What Will You Create Today?


People ask me, “What kind of music do you make, Billy?” I tell them, “I let the listener decide how to categorize it – I call it Billy music.” It has been a challenge throughout my career because there is no such section in the music store. Sometimes what we create doesn’t fit into the boxes that most people expect. The way I work with music is to play real music for real people in real situations. I share my music as honestly as I can. I love to walk on stage with what is essentially a blank canvas, and make something meaningful and magical happen. I never follow a script because as much as we try to script our day it never goes exactly how we might plan. The best plan is to be fully in the moment with the people and what’s happening around you.
Creation is the process of pulling an idea, an image, a melody, from the abstract world and making it real in the concrete world. Classes in art, dance, drama, creative writing and music expose children to this process every day. Students who gain confidence that they can be successful at this process are not afraid of the blank canvas. Knowing you can make something a reality in this world, that you can pull from the abstract a new creation to be shared with others, is a powerful thing. This confidence-to-create is a key to our future individually and as a planet.
What Will You Create Today?

What Will You Create Today?


Aren’t words like freedom, equality, and justice sourced from the world of the abstract? These are essentially abstract concepts. Where do we learn to be confident in our ability to pull these ideas from the abstract and into reality? I suggest that nurturing our confidence-to-create as children through art, music, dance, creative writing and drama has an impact on our global quality of life that goes beyond what any of  us can imagine.
So, it doesn’t matter if what you create is easy to categorize. It doesn’t matter if there’s a section at the store for what you create. I grew up without any Apple stores. Now, look where we have come and how dependent we are on the creative thinking of others. I want us to celebrate the confidence-to-create that everyone can develop and use to reshape our world. Not sure where to start? How about guitar lessons?

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Master of Edutainment

Master of Edutainment

Motivational Speaker Billy McLaughlin Transforms Lives and Learning through Music and Storytelling

Picture yourself attending a lecture. It’s early in the morning and you’ve had about half the sleep that you needed the night before. After about sixteen ounces of coffee and a light snack, you feel slightly more alert, but within minutes your attention begins to fade. It’s not that the topic is dull; on the contrary, it captured your interest or you wouldn’t have paid good money to be sitting where you are right now. It’s just that your mind doesn’t seem as receptive as you’d like it to be.
Now picture yourself coming home from a hard day of work and sitting down in front of the television to watch a favorite movie. Although you are tired and your mind is cluttered with remnants of the business you conducted earlier in the day, the movie draws you in. Your imagination takes you on a journey with the characters in the story and soon your distractions disappear. The last thing that you need is caffeine when the adventure begins to unfold.
Given the two scenarios, under which conditions do you think you would have retained more information? Why is it that a personal and entertaining story, especially one that stimulates our aural and visual senses engages us so dramatically? Regardless of any scientific explanation, the movie industry has been capitalizing on storytelling for years. A bigger question is why, now that audiovisual tools are easily accessible, do so many classrooms and seminars continue to rely exclusively on the lecture platform to facilitate learning?

Master of Edutainment

Master of Edutainment


Edutainment is the merger between education and entertainment, such as movies, stories and music. Combining lectures with entertainment enlivens our senses, which makes us more receptive to learning and increases our ability to retain what we’ve experienced. However, edutainment does more than connect with our auditory and visual senses. Edutainment invokes feelings. The next time you find yourself captured by an “ah-ha” moment, ask yourself, “Am I learning with my head or my heart? Our emotions affect how and what we learn.
Nobody knows the art of edutainment better than motivational speaker and musician Billy McLaughlin. As a guitarist and composer, Billy has mastered the art of connecting with people at a deeply emotional and spiritual level through what he calls transformative music. Through a combination of music and stories, Billy transforms people’s assumptions about what is or is not impossible. He portrays his passion for innovation and achievement in a vividly expressive way that reaches the hearts of his audience members. He inspires them to let go of their fear of failure and commit to a larger goal or purpose.
Master of Edutainment

Master of Edutainment


Billy McLaughlin’s performances are living proof that although you may forget the words that a person says, you never forget the way that person made you feel. The experience that Billy provides is both memorable and motivating. In a friendly, down-to-earth style, he puts life’s biggest problems into perspective as he speaks about the power of persistence and determination. Billy’s heart-felt message is sourced in his journey from being one of Billboard’s brightest stars to incurring a devastating physical malady, focal dystonia, which nearly took his musical career. Overcoming seemingly impossible odds, Billy returned back to the stage more brilliantly than ever before. His message of innovation, reinvention and redefining the impossible is strong medicine for today’s businesses. Through music and true- life stories combined with a witty sense of humor, Billy has inspired people throughout the United States, India and China to rethink the impossible as they consider their own potential.
Instead of ending his career, focal dystonia became the catalyst that transformed him from a musician focused on creating an entertainment niche to a global speaker, devoted to inspiring as many people as possible to pursue bigger goals and aspire to a higher purpose. When asked about his experience, Billy McLaughlin said, “I often say that the worst thing that ever happened to me has become, perhaps, the best thing that has ever happened. If it can be true for me, it can be true for anyone. Suddenly, I am being asked to talk and perform for companies all around the world. I did none of those things the first time around.”
Master of Edutainment

Master of Edutainment


Whether in concert or at a keynote address, the impression Billy McLaughlin leaves with his audience is always the same: unforgettable. With Billy, the difference between learning with your heart vs. your head becomes very clear. The value that you receive from a presentation by Billy McLaughlin does not end when he walks off stage. Rather, it’s the edutainment value you take back with you that yields the biggest return.
For information on booking an event with Billy McLaughlin, contact Hannah Day.

Road to Reinvention
 
The following excerpt is from the introduction to Billy McLaughlin’s upcoming book, “Road to Reinvention.”

Throughout his book, Billy McLaughlin refers to his life in music. For Billy, life and music are synonymous. Indeed, when you think of Billy, it is hard to imagine his life without music. You may not be a musician, yourself. Perhaps you’ve never even picked up a musical instrument. Nevertheless, it is possible to understand Billy’s passion and drive for this single, all-consuming aspect of his life. In fact, there may be something in your life for which you feel equally passionate. If you know your passion, then you are well ahead of those who are searching for whatever their “music” happens to be. If you are still searching, then consider making your search your passion. If, for any reason, you’ve lost touch with your “music”, then Billy McLaughlin’s book will have particular meaning for you. Within each of the passages is a glimpse of the journey Billy has taken from having to losing to reclaiming his music once again. Through it you will experience a journey that was not without struggle or frustration, never certain, but always worthwhile.
Metaphors are powerful depictions, as they capture not merely the physical quality of an idea, but its emotional essence, as well. Music is an especially powerful metaphor. Without words or pictures, music reaches deep from within the soul to connect at a level through which there is no other access. Music is personal, uplifting and timeless; it feeds us and, in some ways, teaches us more about ourselves than we can learn on our own. Music can be raw and raging as an open wound or subtle as a ripple in a pond. Music is universal; it transcends all barriers and separations. Whatever “music” may be in you, whether you find it in your career, family, loved-one, art, sport or business, it deserves to be expressed. Let Billy’s journey inspire you and strengthen your desire to pursue your own “music”, regardless of what temporarily may be in your way. There is no attempt to sugar-coat the process. Though, at times, it may be necessary to face impossibility, overcome the depths of despair and work harder than you imagined, success is within your reach.
Billy’s music is unique. Although there are many guitarists, several whom use the tapping technique for which Billy is famous, nobody plays in quite the same way. Billy’s challenges are unique, too. Nobody before nor since has traveled along exactly the same path that he has taken. Without Billy, his stern resolve and stubborn determination, much of the world may never have heard his extraordinary music and message. Where has your journey taken you to this point? Are you pursuing your “music”? Can you see it at a distance, even if it isn’t yet within reach? When you find your “music”, live it and make use of every opportunity to play it. As with Billy, there’s “music” inside you that the world longs to experience. There’s a place for your “music” on this planet and, once you find it, the world will be forever changed. It’s up to you to make it happen. Are you willing to take the next step?
Gain strength and guidance from someone who’s triumphed over the impossible.
Despite overwhelming odds, Billy maintains a perspective of love, understanding and even humor as he captures some of the most dramatic moments of his life in words. With an unrelenting spirit and clear sense of self identity, he proves that it is possible to achieve new heights in the face of defeat. Reserve your copy of “Road to Reinvention” today.

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Do Over

Do Over


What if something that you knew for a long time, depended upon, built your entire identity and career around, was suddenly and irreversibly stripped away from you? What would you do? For some people, this question is more real than imaginary. In recent years, many people have lost their jobs, businesses, homes, health, marriages, loved ones and even their pets. The lives that they had once taken for granted no longer exist. Wishing won’t bring back the past. Hoping that all this change will settle down soon so that life can resume to “normal” won’t do much good, either. Change is now the new “normal.”
The change that’s happening to people these days is far sweeping and often abrupt. It may begin with a job loss or health problem. It may be a change in business climate or relationship. When the change is big enough, it eventually reaches into other aspects of life, making little difference where, when or why it started in the first place. Sometimes the only solution is to start over.
In more ways than one, life can look like a do-over right now. How many people do you know who are starting over because of some major change or shift that has taken place for them? If you are experiencing extraordinary change in your life, there are probably moments of confusion where nothing seems to make sense. It may comfort you to know that there’s at least part of an explanation for this. Among the reasons why the world is going through such rapid change recently is related to technology. Have you noticed how it, too, has sped up?
Thanks to technology, people are able to connect like never before—immediately and over long distances through voice, text and video. Since it doesn’t take very long (in some cases, no time at all) to reach people, expectations begin to rise with the speed of communication. People do their best to respond more quickly with new ideas and better solutions. This is how change accelerates.
The result is that new ideas start to replace older ideas more rapidly. In some cases, it happens so quickly that the process seems invisible. There is a name for what happens when new ideas replace old ideas, making them obsolete: it’s called creative destruction. At first impression, creative destruction seems like an oxymoron. How can you create and destroy at the same time? However, if you think about it, creative destruction happens all the time in nature. A flower blossoms and fades away so that its seeds can be formed. Little chicks and baby birds have to crack open and destroy their egg shells in order to enter the world. Salmon have to swim upstream and die in order to procreate and form larger pools of fish. Creative destruction is happening all around us.
Perhaps you know of a neighborhood that has gone through a similar process. The street may have been a booming place in the 1920s or 1930s, but then something happened that caused it to lose its appeal. Maybe a factory closed down or a highway was rerouted. Years later, somebody comes along, appreciating the character of the buildings and sees new potential for the old neighborhood. Buildings are restored, new businesses start up and the neighborhood prospers once again.
Wherever you see creative destruction, it’s a sign that something innovative is happening. Something new and more exciting is emerging. The old cliché is true: When one door closes, another door opens. Think about it. When you focus on what isn’t working in your life, you are spending time and energy on the door that is closing. Consider, instead, the door that is opening. Initially, you may feel awkward and a little unsure, but the feeling is only temporary. What waits beyond the door that is opening will stretch you and help you grow. It will show you a side of yourself you may not even know existed. It will exercise your strengths and create new opportunities for you.
In Billy McLaughlin’s case, a door didn’t simply close. It slammed shut at the height of his career. Billy had to find a way to reinvent his purpose, process and profession—he had to open a new door because the old door was locked. Instead of viewing his affliction with dystonia as the end of his career, he approached it as a new beginning. As ambassador for dystonia medical research, the purpose for Billy’s performances has expanded greatly. He is building worldwide awareness of the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation and the work they do to improve treatment and eventually cure dystonia. This neurological disorder afflicts not only musicians like Billy McLaughlin, but people of all ages and in all professions with varying degrees of debilitation.
Because of dystonia, Billy McLaughlin ceased to be a right-handed guitarist. It became utterly impossible for him to perform arrangements that he had composed and played thousands of times before. Regardless of the fact that he lacked the means to play, his music was alive inside of him as much as ever. In order to express it again, Billy had to learn a new process. Instead of lamenting over what he had lost, Billy chose to focus on what was working. He began the arduous task of learning to play guitar with his opposite hand, something no other guitarist has ever attempted. Musically, Billy McLaughlin is accomplishing as much, if not more, as a left-handed guitarist as he had achieved when he was a right-handed guitarist. He has composed new music and performed in concerts that are being televised nationally. PBS is currently airing Billy McLaughlin performing “Starry Night” in concert with Orchestra Nova, conducted by Jung-Ho Pak. He says, “It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.” The schedule for “Starry Night” on PBS is published on Billy’s website.
Professionally, Billy McLaughlin now plays to a different audience than when he was on tour as a recording artist and Billboard top-ten entertainer. Billy is speaking to corporate audiences worldwide, sharing his message that nothing’s impossible, regardless of how overwhelming it may seem. Billy McLaughlin is a walking, talking and music-making example of doing the impossible. Billy’s inspiring life story helps people transform impossible circumstances into achievable results through persistence, innovation, discipline and creativity. He has received accolades and standing ovations for his corporate presentations at Microsoft, Accenture, Mayo Clinic, Securian Financial and Wells Fargo, to name a few. Through music, stories and occasional humor, Billy McLaughlin shows in a very personal way that clarifying your purpose, committing to your mission and celebrating every step along the way enables you to navigate through difficult challenges and circumstances.
There is no crystal ball to guide you through the extreme challenges that come along with creative destruction. There are no guarantees that you’ll find passage through a new door when an old one closes. The next best thing, however, is the reassuring strength and guidance from one who’s faced impossible odds and has overcome them successfully. Billy McLaughlin is living proof that reinvention is not only probable, but preferable in many ways. Billy’s insights, achieved through personal experience, help you see beyond the self-doubt and limiting behaviors that hinder your ability to overcome obstacles.
Watch Billy onstage and you’ll sense the absolute joy he feels while he is performing. His happiness comes in part from the pleasure of doing what he loves. A greater portion of his joy, however, comes from an appreciation he’s gained, after years of struggle, to be sharing his music once more. Had he given in to his illness, Billy’s life would have turned out much differently. His ability to perform would have ceased to exist as the odds of his ever playing again were stacked strongly against him. The fact that Billy’s return almost didn’t happen is the reason why he never takes the experience for granted. Despite impossible challenges, Billy McLaughlin has created a new beginning.

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