Johnny Cash was one of the most successful musicians of his time—mainly because he went against the status quo.
He was also an actor, author and activist on reforming prisons and helping out Native Americans.
He was one of the few musicians who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Gospel Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He’s known for such hits such as, “I Walk the Line,” “Ring of Fire” and several others.
He passed away on September 12, 2003 at the age of 71, but his voice will forever influence generations to come.
He inspired several other very famous musicians.
Here’s three principles inspired by Johnny Cash:
There are no limitations.
“You’ve got to know your limitations. I don’t know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren’t too many limitations, if I did it my way.”
~ Johnny Cash
Arguably one of the greatest feats Johnny Cash ever pulled off to sky-rocket his career was his free concert at Folsom Prison. You have to be absolutely fearless and at the same time compassionate to go into a situation like this and perform.
Johnny Cash would receive letters from his fans, some of which where prisoners that inspired him to go into prisons and give a free concert. With little funding from the recording company he decided to go into Folsom and perform a free show. At Folsom Prison (1968) and At San Quentin (1969)—both were two live recordings done in prison sold millions. These albums helped to catapult him into to a successful career.
You have to know your limitations in life so you can go beyond them.
Go against the status quo.
“I wore black because I liked it. I still do, and wearing it still means something to me. It’s still my symbol of rebellion—against a stagnant status quo.”
~ Johnny Cash
When Johnny Cash entered the country music scene, most of the musicians were wearing cowboy hats and boots with rhinestone outfits; they played country music that was different than Johnny’s.
Instead of playing the same type of music, Johnny found his own way.
Anything you pursue in life is going to conflict with what the current status quo. This is usually one of the hardest obstacles for people to overcome. It’s inevitable; every great change maker that has ever done something worth doing, has had to go through this rite of passage.
It’s difficult because you have to deal with a tremendous amount of criticism.
Failure is your friend.
“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”
~ Johnny Cash
One of Johnny Cash’s signature songs, “I Walk the Line,” took a few failures before it became Johnny’s number one hit. That song went on to sell two million copies. He also faced numerous substance abuse battles, but in the end he overcame them.
Most importantly Johnny Cash approached his life with a great sense of humor.
I think anything you’re doing in life must be approached with wittiness and laughter.
People will take one slice of a person’s life and use it to classify a fault in that person. They don’t look at the person’s entire life. Johnny approached these types of situations by being witty. He faced several bad habits in his life and was able to overcome them and combat them with a positive attitude and strong sense of humor.
So go ahead—be a rebel, and pursue your passions with a sense of humor and humility.
Editor: Brianna Bemel
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