Sunday, January 3, 2016

'Running, Roaring, Each Step Soaring'

Rachel Burnham writes: ‘Running, roaring, each step soaring’ comes from the wonderful lyrics to ‘Milestones’ – the tune is of course by trumpeter Miles Davis and the lyric is by Jim Britt.  

Like many people over the Christmas period, I have taken the opportunity to do some well-needed clearing out of cupboards and shelves – I’m rather embarrassed to admit that I have managed to fill 5 black sacks just from my wardrobe and chest of drawers alone!  As usual I listened to music whilst doing this and in the process heard this track again, reminding me of a blog that I had begun but never finished.  About 18 months ago, @sukhpabial set up a Carnival of Blogs on a theme relating to ‘steps’ or something on those lines  – and I planned to write a piece based on this lyric, but I got stuck, abandoned the idea and wrote something else instead.

But now I can’t get these lyrics and this tune out of my head and so I simply have to write about them.  Here’s a link to Mark Murphy singing ‘Milestones’ - why not have a listen?

I like the urgency suggested by the lyric, the emphasis on grasping the time right now, the call to action ‘Pick up your speed, it’s what you need, you can’t stay in bed!’ and the personal challenge ‘Hear that voice now, it’s your choice now’.  All of which feel right for the start of a New Year and for a profession that is under challenge and has so much to shape up to face. 

  • Are we too focused on learning and insufficiently focused on impacting on performance in the workplace?
  • Too many of us are still delivering only using face to face training methods and often that not done well with too much emphasis on presentation of information.
  • Insufficiently agile to meet the challenges of how people actually learn at work.
  • Do we have the skills, particularly the digital skills we need for the future?
  • And much more!

Miles Davis is well-known for his continual ability, throughout his long career as a jazz musician, to keep refreshing and reinventing his music, changing direction and sound.  

Jazz has taken many forms since the early 20th century and writers have commented how each fresh expression of jazz seems to have come from a revisiting and appreciation of the blues, reinterpreting this in new contexts and for each new age. So tradition can be a source of strength and innovation.  In jazz, I think there are only two constants – some element of improvisation and being polyrhythmic – everything else is up for grabs.

In L&D we need to choose what to hold on to and what to let go.  What to consciously adopt and what to consciously adapt.  What is at the core of our profession and what needs reinventing.  There is plenty of advice around to guide this thinking, but in the end each L&Der has to make their own choice and take their own action.

The singer, Mark Murphy, is one of my all-time favourite singers.  I’d love to say that I first heard him sing in a jazz club in New York on Fifty-Second Street, or in Chicago or New Orleans or even at Ronnie Scott’s in London, but the truth is that I first heard him sing in a small Friday night once a month jazz club in a basement of a pub in Stockport.   From the moment I heard him sing I was hooked on jazz.  Life changing moments can take place in the day to day of life in Stockport, Barnsley, Dundee, Tottenham, Swansea or Burnham-on-Sea.

So, whether your L&D life is based in Stockport or some other place – in the words of the song ‘Hear that voice now, it’s your choice now.’ And start working out what your L&D practice needs to be for the future – what to hold on to and what to do differently.

Rachel Burnham


Burnham L & D Consultancy helps L&D professionals become even more effective.  I am particularly interested in blended learning, the uses of social media for learning, evaluation and anything that improves the impact of learning on performance.

Follow me on Twitter @BurnhamLandD

1 comment:

  1. Purging is a great trait which we share - whether it is black sacks or mental baggage and music is a great accompaniment to this.