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Things Aren’t Always as They Seem to Be

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The rock band Van Halen used to require that a bowl of M&M’s be placed in their dressing room before each concert. And, all of the brown M&M’s had to be removed.


When they hear this, most people think “What a bunch of prima donnas! What egos! These guys must think they are something special…” and they would be right. Unless, of course, the reason they wanted them wasn’t the ego trip that it seemed.

As it turns out, it wasn’t. Here’s the real story.

The band traveled with nine fully-loaded 18-wheelers which carried the equipment needed for the concert. As I’m sure you can imagine, unloading and putting it all together was a monumental task requiring a large crew, larger than could reasonably travel with the band. So, wherever they went they hired local contractors for the construction of the set and sound system.

The contract for putting it all together was very detailed and very complicated; Van Halen personnel had to inspect every bolt and audio connection to verify that it was all done properly, which was itself a huge job. They decided that they needed a way to tell how meticulous each new crew was, so they buried a clause in the contract about M&M’s in the dressing room with all of the brown ones removed. If the M&M’s were there, they knew that the contractor had read everything carefully and they were reasonably certain that the job was done right. If the M&M’s were NOT there, it was apparent that the contract was not very well read or followed, and they had to do a much more thorough inspection.

Suddenly the M&M requirement doesn’t seem so egotistical, does it?

And herein lies the lesson: things are not always as they seem to be. If you are stressed about something, question it. Be careful not to assume anything because you just might be surprised what you find out.

The words that caused you concern may have been directed at someone else, or were taken out of context, or were simply misunderstood.

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