A Life Well Played

This is the fifth article of the five-part series “Take Five for Leadership,” which explores business insights from the story of Dave Brubeck’s classic recording Take Five. Click here to read the previous article.

Alto saxophonist Paul Desmond composed Take Five, the highest grossing jazz single of all time. Desmond’s life mirrored his most famous work: Take Five was fun and intelligent, just like Paul was known for his quick wit and appetite for reading and chess. Sadly, Paul Desmond died of complications from lung cancer at the age of 52 after a life driven by artistry and addictions. In his will, he assigned royalties from Take Five to the Red Cross. Having been recorded countless times over the last 6 decades, it yields royalties estimated to exceed $100,000 annually — even nearly 60 years later. Desmond’s final act has directed millions of dollars to the organization (Red Cross reported $6 million in total proceeds as of 2005).

Weekly challenge: What’s your lasting impact?

With the short years we live on this planet, it’s important to recognize that our lives aren’t simply for our individual pleasure. A life well lived makes the world a better place today and tomorrow. Think about the impact you can make on the world within your circle of influence and circle of concern. It may be social service organizations like the Red Cross or Boys & Girls Club of America. Perhaps it’s establishing a scholarship for your church or leaving a business for your children to inherit. As you perform on life’s stage, and take inventory of your life, you’ll discover your way to leave a lasting mark. If you get lost, just take a cue from jazz master Paul Desmond.

A life well lived makes the world a better place today and tomorrow.

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About the Author

Jeff Ponders II is a modern-day Batman. By day, he infuses innovation, strategy and creative energy into brands and startups. By night, he performs across the United States as a jazz saxophonist.

Each month Jeff features one song from the great jazz songbook, highlighting a unique professional insight every week.

Follow or connect with Jeff for more on Jazz, Leadership, Innovation, and Creativity.

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