I just read this story in the book Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins. In 1971, Led Zeppelin was one of the most popular bands in the world. Some critics accused them of being all hype and no substance. So they decided to take a massive chance. They released their fourth album anonymously. Without the band’s name or any of the singers or musicians listed on the cover.
Their record label was totally against it. A few months beforehand, the band took out some ads teasing that a new album would be coming without sharing any details.
And what happened? Some die hard fans found it on a shelf in a record store, listened to the music, loved the songs and knew it must be Led Zeppelin. This was the album that brought us Stairway to Heaven and many other hits.
It sold 23 million copies. And they didn’t have the internet.
We often see pranks where famous musicians busk in a subway station and no one pays any attention. Because the world hasn’t told them they should listen.
Why do we wait for someone else to tell us what we should believe?
Would we be brave enough to put ourselves out there and see how we might be judged?
We can’t hold back until we are ready. That day will never come. We have to jump in and double down on ourselves. We will be criticized. We will fail. But if we take the lessons and grow, there is no downside.
As author J.K. Rowling once said, “You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”
Let’s look fear in the eye and face it down. We might not be releasing an anonymous album, but we could be speaking up in a meeting, pressing submit on a public blog, joining a board, running for office, or signing up for our first marathon.
You never know what might happen. It could be your stairway to heaven.