Flow

We Interrupt This Queue Of Productivity Blogs To Reflect On Pop Music’s Greatest Comeback Ever

Prove haters wrong in an epic way.

Credit: Wendy Wei via Pexels

I’m feeling a little off my game after relocating cross-country from Houston to Los Angeles last month. Workspace environment is everything when it comes to flow state — it even affects cognition and mood, according to research findings published in the Harvard Business Review — so with my desk being a stack of boxes at the moment, it’s safe to say I’m frazzled.

I need a comeback. A shot in the arm. Or maybe just a few meals that don’t start with “Mc” after driving 1,900 miles last week. Getting back into a groove can be hard, and if you’re not careful the days or weeks of inaction can easily stretch into months or years of wasted potential.

Flow state is a distant memory at the moment. But it’s safe to say it’s worth my time finding it again:

  • An often-cited report from McKinsey notes that in a 10-year longitudinal study, executives felt 500% more productive when in flow state;
  • The research of leading flow researcher Mihály Csíkszentmihályi suggests that being in flow state regularly makes you happier; and
  • A fascinating study involving distance runners and imagery found that visualization can heighten the experience of flow.

My go-to trigger for re-establishing flow state has always been to throw on my headphones and play a song on repeat. But right now, I need a little extra oomph.

Which album am I throwing in my headphones to channel comeback vibes and invite an epic return to form? That would be Madonna’s 2005 10x-Platinum EDM masterpiece Confessions On A Dance Floor — here’s why.

Why Confessions is the GOAT of pop star comebacks

I get it: There are loads of mainstream music comebacks that have been equally impressive and commercially superior:

  • Santana stunned the world with Supernatural in 1999 after being dropped from their label;
  • Green Day recovered from their label stealing their master tracks by recording American Idiot from scratch in 2004 (A full decade after Dookie);
  • And hell, Madonna wasn’t even the only pop star having a moment in 2005 — Mariah Carey’s Emancipation Of Mimi was also crushing the charts and snatching trophies, notching three Grammys that year.

But Madonna’s comeback is different. She was 46 years old when she released Confessions. And her previous album, American Life, hadn’t met expectations.

The unfortunate truth is that pop politics are riddled with ageism; many pop sensations fizzle out as they enter their thirties, particularly in the EDM genre. Before social media, artists were more at the mercy of their labels when it came to distribution — remember, this was two years before SoundCloud was born.

  • The Confessions Tour launched 15 years ago this month and went on to rake in over $194 million USD, a record at the time.
  • Hung Up, the album’s lead single, went to #1 in a record 41 countries.
  • The music video is timeless and fresh. If you ever see me stretching on the floor like this, it’s because I’ve fallen and I can’t get up (Video embedded to start at exact moment of painful-looking stretch).
Madonna was 46 here.

What also makes Confessions so impressive is that Madonna was well into the third decade of her career when she dropped it. Think about that for a moment. Are you tired of the hustle after two years?

Try hanging on for another 20 years — then kicking out a single that takes global nightlife by storm.

How to make a comeback through flow state

If it feels impossible to hang on to the game for that long, it might be a sign that the way you’re currently motivating yourself isn’t going to work long-term. To keep yourself moving forward — and dial in your flow state along the way — keep these takeaways in mind.

  • Get hyped. I know we (supposedly) hate hustle, but inspiration is the secret weapon for many a successful creator. The trick is to figure out how to keep your fire burning bright. GaryVee videos will only take you so far; find what lights you up and keep it by your side at all times.
  • Focus on the next step. It’s hard to stay jazzed about really long-term goals like early retirement. Instead, prioritize goals that are 60 days to one year in length. These windows are long enough to make real progress, but also short enough that you’ll see light at the end of the tunnel.
  • No, really — listen to music. According to clinical research published in the Journal Of Positive Psychology, music can increase energy and lift mood. Vibe is everything when it comes to productivity, so why not splurge and buy those fancy headphones? Science has your back here.

“Prioritize goals that are 60 days to one year in length. These windows are long enough to make real progress, but also short enough that you’ll see light at the end of the tunnel.”

We’re not all eyeing global tours or millions of sales. But hearing about an artist’s return to greatness can inspire us to dust ourselves off and get back up after we’ve been knocked down. When it’s time to bounce back from disappointment, channel legendary comebacks of the past and you might soar higher than ever before.

🎉 P.S. — Wanna know how I write 5+ articles/week for websites like Entrepreneur and Fast Company? One word: Templates. I’ve compiled my best ones into a free download called the Article Template Toolkit:

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Contributor @ Entrepreneur, Fast Company. 60+ live TV appearances on NBC, FOX, CBS. Research-minded commentary on tech, behavior, & business. www.nickwolny.com

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