Did Robin Thicke Get it Right?

For those who follow this blog, and for those who know me, you recognize my love of music – and in particular the spoken word. Songs tell stories, make points, and teach as well as any book does. Robin Thicke, in his second album The Evolution of Robin Thickehas is a song titled “Everything I Can’t Have.” It’s actually one of my favorite songs by Thicke, as much for the message as for the Latin American influence of the music – complete with horns and a salsa rhythm you can’t help but dance to. This song starts with this verse:

I want a fresh girl
I wanna drink my drink
I wanna get high
I can’t have everything
I wanna be rich
Never work at all
And sleep all day
And I wanna see it all
Oh I want, I want everything
I want everything I can’t have

If I am honest, throughout my career I have tried to have it all. I want to be young and old, eat what I want and stay in shape, say what I want but hold the respect of everyone around me, be an all-star student in class and super involved on campus, be single and married, and have a family but maintain all my freedoms. And I have seen those around me, students, new professionals, entrepreneurs, and family all try to do the same thing – though they may not know it. Students that want to be the President of the Student Government Association and also travel abroad the semester after they get elected. New husbands who want to hang out how they hung out before marriage, and with the same people. People who hate their job, but don’t want to do what’s needed to find a new one.

you_cant_have_everythingThis morning while listening to POTUS Politics on Sirius XM (as is my custom during my 45 minute commute from Rogers Park), there was an employer talking with the host, Michael Smerconish, about good paying jobs (20/hr) that were going unfilled. Why? Because people were a) failing drug tests at alarming rates of 40% or more, or b) they didn’t want to work non-traditional hours or on weekends. It reinforced to me how some of us want everything, but are unwilling to give anything. Sometimes it means giving up your preferred schedule; sometimes it means giving up a relationship; sometimes it means giving up on immediate gratification for what will come later in life; sometimes it means choosing and prioritizing one dream or goal over the other. If you don’t, you end up in debt, alone, or always on your way to something, but never quite there. At the end of the day you really can’t have everything…

cant_do_everything_sombraBut at the same time it is that drive for everything that has served as a motivator for me in many aspects of my life. And let me be clear, I don’t mean “stuff.” I am talking about experiences and lifestyles. Stuff comes with that at times, but when I talk about having everything, I am not simply talking about materials goods. I wanted to work full-time and earn a PhD; so I did. I wanted to earn that PhD by the time I was 30 if not sooner; so I did. I wanted to start a family while doing that; so I did. I wanted to buy a house, even though my credit wasn’t great; so I did. But as I reflect back on what I did, I remember what I either didn’t do, or deferred in the process. I remember the sacrifices I had to make, or the blows to my pride I had to take as a result of my wanting for everything. So what does that mean for those reading this blog? I say dream big – know what you want, and go get it. AND, while you’re doing that, realize that this is the real world, and that you will have to make course corrections, give up on some things, and find ways to prioritize along the way. Live in the possibilities, assuming abundance of time and energy – but know that life has a way of setting you back. That’s OK – be resilient, keep moving forward, and be driven by everything you can’t have.

Please, share this with someone who is trying to have or do everything, but not quite getting it right.

Dr. Anthony


Published by Dr. Michael D. Anthony

I currently serve as the Vice President of Student Affairs and Institutional Effectiveness at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, IL. I served as an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Louisville and Loyola University in Chicago, IL. In order to expand my life's work beyond my day-to-day job, I started my own consulting work in leadership and diversity in 2008. I completed my Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership and Organizational Development at the University of Louisville, where I also earned my Master of Arts degree in Higher Education Administration. I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management with a concentration in Marketing from North Carolina State University. A native of Charlotte, NC I am passionate about leadership development, organizational change, and the ability of effective leaders to transform their communities. During my professional career I have made it my personal goal to be a strong and vocal advocate for students, faculty, and staff, and have a life-long vision to empower others to affect positive change in their community. I live in Rochester, MN.

2 thoughts on “Did Robin Thicke Get it Right?

  1. Great post Mike.

    Indeed, there is often a disconnect between what we want, and what we are willing to work for. Not understanding the consequences of the decisions between the two can have profound impact on how you view the world and those in it (i.e. “look at that guy, so lucky he owns his own business” instead of “look at that guy, he owns his own business. I think I’ll stop watching so much TV so I can follow my own dreams”).


  2. Greetings,

    This is a very good posting. You have made some strong points and the use of music with relation to books to receive a message is right on point. Music artist are authors in their own right and it is up to the listener to receive the message. Robin Thicke is an excellent artist and the song you selected has a message that most of the world misses “I can’t have it all”, but what they fail to understand is that you can still strive to have it all….You know the whole “shoot for the moon but if you miss at least you are among the stars thing”, you made the comment of prioritizing… that is the most important aspect to have when trying to take over the world (Pinky and the Brain). Attacking everything one goal and dream at a time, crawling before you walk works for children and adults.

    To touch on the jobs that are going unfilled due to failed drug test or an employee’s lack of wanting to change their schedule is really a cultural issue. It will take a more focused attack to correct this behavior in our future leaders. The culture of working hard and doing whatever it takes started to change in the early to mid 90’s. During this time is when we started to have more and more high school and middle school students having babies. These young parents never developed the discipline of work ethics due to having to be a parent at a young age and many having parents themselves that are half there. Not saying all turn out lazy but more than a few. Culture starts in the household and if the adult in the house is lazy and always complaining guess what happens to the child? Here in lies a question: How do we change the culture?


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