Because We Love the Music

Korn Ferry CEO Gary Burnison on why we do what we do.

Gary Burnison is CEO of Korn Ferry and the author of Take Control: The Career You Want, Where You Want.

The concert hall was packed, and a massive grand piano stood in the spotlight. We gave a thunderous round of applause when the pianist sat down and began to play. Then, halfway through Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto, this world-famous artist suddenly stopped in the middle, rose to his feet, and announced he simply couldn’t play any longer.

It happened years ago, but I can still remember the stunned silence hanging over that concert hall.

Punctuating this surreal moment, the conductor left the podium and slowly approached the pianist, whispering a few words that nobody heard. After a moment, the pianist gathered himself, then resumed playing with a passion and vigor we had not heard all evening.

Throughout the rest of the concert, one question was on my mind: What did the conductor say to the pianist. Later I learned of his simple but profound words …

We do it because we love the music.”

That message is a timeless gift to all of us.

For the pianist, it is the music. For the artist, it is the painting. And for all of us, it is remembering why we do what we do.

But the truth is, it’s not always easy. Every year is filled with triumphs and tragedies, successes and setbacks, high notes and low notes. Life is not a continuous reel of someone else’s idyllic social media feed. It’s ours … and it’s real.

And yet thankfully, our human nature often tends to gravitate toward the best of what this time and every moment offer us.

Indeed, may we all keep finding our music.