“Music is the shorthand of emotion.” ― Leo Tolstoy
Think of your favourite sports drama (Rocky), horror movie (Jaws), classic family flick (Jurassic Park) or even a tear-jerker romance (I know you secretly loved the Notebook – don’t try to deny it!). I would bet that when you think of those films, the soundtrack floats into your mind along with it. Without the music, the big cinematic moments would lose much of their impact. It subtly informs how we feel about what’s happening on the screen – triumphant, terrified, awestruck or… ok, a blubbery mess.
Technological changes like the iPod (and later the smartphone) and streaming services like Spotify have changed the way we use music. It has become an intensely personal experience; we create a soundtrack to our lives and deliver it direct to our brains via tiny white earbuds.
Much of the time we choose our tunes to suit the mood we are ‘in’ but you can flip this around to good effect. By listening to music that matches the mood you would like to be in, you have a handy way to select your mindset.
This idea has many applications throughout the ‘day in the life of a small business owner’; finding your mojo on low energy mornings, psyching yourself up for a challenge, transitioning out of ‘work mode’ or winding down to get a good night’s sleep. Achieving any of those states may be as simple as listening to the right song.
At Tenfold, we mentor our small business coaching clients to leverage the power of music to:
- increase energy
- improve productivity
- build confidence
- calm a stressed nervous system.
Sure, some personal taste will come into play, but we have created the Tenfold Coaching Playlist to get you started:
Start as you mean to go on:
These songs will inject some positivity into your morning… and aren’t so high octane that they are off-putting:
- Happy – Pharrell Williams
The name says it all, really. A great way to start the day and set yourself up for positivity and gratitude.
- I Can See Clearly Now – Jimmy Cliff
“It’s gonna be a bright sunshiny day”…
The relaxed vibe and ‘make you groove’ beat makes this one perfect for shower karaoke… crank it up!
- Feeling Good – Nina Simone
The smooth tones of Simone’s voice and punchy, swinging, brassy bassline… it’s a spiritual dedicated to fresh beginnings that inspires confidence and some old-school suavity.
Rock Opera Royalty:
These guys get their own category because there are no greater “YEAH!” anthems around… and we could all stand to channel a little “Freddie” from time to time:
- We Are the Champions – Queen
The name says it all. A great one if you’ve experienced a hit and need a pick-me-up…off-the-floor.
- We Will Rock You – Queen
The original team-building song for sporting heroes and sales teams alike… sure to get the guys and gals pumped before a strategy meeting!
- Don’t stop me now – Queen
You’ll feel your energy levels soar as this track builds… plus a study performed by the University of Missouri even found it to be the ‘happiest song’ there is. Rock on!
There are some meetings, phone calls or presentations that require you to be in a strong headspace before you tackle them. These songs promote a strong and/or positive mindset:
- Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
From the opening riff you’re almost instantly tipped over into ‘winner’ mode. A great tonic for building confidence when you’ve got the collywobbles.
- Lose Yourself – Eminem
There’s nothing like acknowledging that the stakes are high and giving yourself a good talking to:
“You only get one shot – do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime”…
It does, however, come with a language warning (it’s Mr Mathers after all).
- Tubthumping – Chumbawamba
Apart from helping you to perfect your Northern English accent, there’s something about hearing the words “I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never gonna keep me down” 25-odd times that seems to brain-wash you into positivity and resilience.
Improve concentration and problem-solving skills:
- The unaccompanied cello suites No. 1,5 & 6 – JS Bach, performed by Yo-Yo Ma
Bach’s music is an exercise in mathematical harmony; the balance and symmetry will encourage creative thinking rather than interrupt your flow. The cello also has the closest sound to the human voice, so is particularly soothing to the ear. This whole album is a good one to have on during ‘general work’ periods.
- Anything by Mozart
Need an instant brain-power boost? Pop on something by this famous classical composer to enjoy the ‘Mozart effect’ – stress relief, improved communication, increased efficiency and higher levels of creativity. The bad news… this effect only lasts around 15 minutes after the music stops. Oh well, it’s good while it lasts!
Glam rock/pop from the 70s and 80s – it’s good-mood-promoting stuff. Plus, you’ve got to admire anyone who gets up on stage with gravity defying hair, yellow tiger-print jackets and painted-on leather pants… that’s confidence (and a serious sense of humour) right there. Only experienced air guitarists need apply.
- Jump – Van Halen
The risk takers anthem; if you’ve got to gather up all your courage so you can hit the ‘go’ button on something that is taking you outside of your comfort zone, this is the song for you… “might as well jump!”.
- Don’t Stop Believing – Journey
Sure, it is a love song, but the chorus is what stays with you… the universal experiences and ‘some win, some lose, but don’t give up’ message make this a motivational classic.
- It’s my life – Bon Jovi
OK, so this song is Bon Jovi 2.0, some 15 years on from their glory hair-band days of “Livin’ on a Prayer’ and ‘Dead or Alive’… but it still channels the same attitude. Plus, the lyrics are so on-task:
“It’s now or never”…
“Luck ain’t enough, you’ve got to make your own breaks”…
“I ain’t gonna be just a face in the crowd. You’re gonna hear my voice when I shout it out loud”.
When the minutiae of daily life feels like it is piling up on top of you, these songs offer some perspective, helping you to feel like you are part of something bigger…
- Imagine – John Lennon
The ultimate belief-in-humanity-restoring pop song. This iconic call-to-action asks us to imagine our way to a better world; it might help any challenges you are experiencing take their rightful place in the scheme of things.
- Let it be – The Beatles
Paul tells a story where his mother, Mary, came to him in a dream and told him everything would be ok and to just “let it be”. From that inspiration came possibly his greatest song – a secular hymn about knowing when to accept that which cannot be changed. Words of wisdom indeed.
- The Voice – John Farnham
Still relevant 32 years later. Talk about feeling like you are part of something – we may be living in strange times, but we’ve got this!
“This time, we know we call can stand together
With the power to be powerful
Believing, we can make it better”
These Australian artists give us something to shout about (other than the traffic jam you’re stuck in)…
- It’s a long way to the top – AC/DC
When you’re taking the road less travelled (be that the life of a Rockstar or a small business owner), there are going to be setbacks… this rock classic reminds us that its all part of the journey and only the toughest will ‘make it’.
- Titanium – David Guetta ft Sia
This dance track was written and sung by Sia, who you may not realise is a prolific Australian singer-songwriter. It features a lot of imagery around having an indestructible belief in yourself,
“I’m bulletproof nothing to lose. Fire away, fire away”…
“You shoot me down but I won’t fall. I am titanium”.
For those times when you need reassurance of your own resilience.
- I’ve done all the dumb things – Paul Kelly
This fun Aussie rock record reminds us that we all make mistakes… and live to tell the tale.
Borrow from your kids’ playlist:
- Can’t stop the feeling – Justin Timberlake
OK, so it’s the theme song from the movie Trolls but stay with me…
Timberlake’s the man and I defy you to listen to this without doing your best desk-chair shuffle. You literally cannot be in a bad mood and listen to this song at the same time. I like to put this on in the car on the way home at the end of the day… it puts me in a ‘party’ mood and helps me transition from ‘work’ to ‘home’ mode.
- Shake it off – Taylor Swift
A guilty pleasure for many of us, this is the remedy for those days when you feel like you are the only one who truly sees your potential; haters gonna hate and fakers gonna fake… so just ‘shake it off’!
- Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars
This one is all about the vibe… you’ll feel 10% cooler, funnier and more successful just listening to this track. Don’t believe me? Just watch!
Take it down:
If you’ve come to the end of a tough day and you are feeling a bit wired, slip into something more comfortable:
- Weightless – Marconi Union
This track – soundscape really – has been scientifically created (and proven) to reduce anxiety by up to 65%. Cheaper than chocolate or wine… and a lot healthier too!
- Strawberry Swing – Coldplay
The same study that proved the above track’s positive psychological effects also found this laid-back song by Cold Play is one of the most relaxing (it came in at #5). Since I’m a fan, I’m placing it in my top 3.
- Watermark – Enya
Enya’s music was some of the first chillout music to go mainstream. It still holds up as an instant relief to the nervous system. Watermark is possibly her most famous instrumentals; the simple melody delivered via a piano and synth combo will surely lull you off to sleep.
Once more with feeling…
It isn’t hard to imagine the effect a song can have on your state of mind. After all, we’ve been making music for as long as we’ve existed; it is an essential part of the human experience. If we pay the same amount of attention to our playlists as we might to, say, maintaining a healthy diet, it makes a positive contribute to our overall wellbeing. So, sing from the songbook of Nigel Tufnel (of Spinal Tap infamy) and “turn it up to 11”!