Last week I promised you a piece about Axl Rose. Sound like a silly idea? Nothing to do with business change?

Wrong. Axl Rose represents the epitome of business change . . . just the wrong kind.

As this Axl Rose-influenced piece in Inc. points out, “tactics” have started to replace strategy in the manager’s bag of tricks. It’s an interesting turn, and please don’t get me wrong: there’s a point where every manager has to make tactics part of his management skills set. But long before that happens you need to learn to trust your own instincts.

Let’s back things up:

You might not even know who Axl Rose is. The now-forty-nine-year-old front man for Guns N’ Roses was a rock star in every sense of the word in the late 1970s and through most of the 1980s. Axl Rose lived the life. Supermodel girlfriends, gazillions of dollars, thousands of screaming fans throwing themselves at him every night. If I couldn’t be a professional athlete, I would want to be a rock star. Axl Rose was a rock star.

Axl Rose

It all fell apart for Axl Rose when the other members of Guns N’ Roses got tired of his ego. GnR “broke up”, which is to say that the other members of the band went on to other things that didn’t involve them living with Axl’s huge ego. Rose held onto ownership of the Guns N’ Roses name, though, and eventually released a new “Guns N’ Roses” album that went nowhere.

By “eventually”, I mean “it took about fifteen years”, and by “fell apart” I mean that by the time Axl Rose released the new GnR album, his time had passed. The album sold well enough, but nobody cared about Axl Rose any longer.

This is about trusting your own instincts.

I’m pretty sure you got to where you are by trusting your instincts. Axl Rose trusted his instincts when he was running roughshod over his Guns N’ Roses band-mates, and it worked; the boys reached the pinnacle of their profession. Of course, a little bit of introspection might have made it work for another few years. From all accounts—and let’s face it; this is to be expected—Axl lacked the ability for that introspection when he was a rock star.

But by examining … every … single … detail … for … fifteen … years … Axl Rose mismanaged his career into oblivion. He lost trust in his own instincts. Not OK.

Trust Your Instincts. And when you start thinking like Axl Rose, trust your instincts even more.

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