Sunday, November 16, 2008

You Can Tune a Piano but You Can't Tuna Fish

Those of us who spent a lot of time in locker rooms and team huddles in sports know a little about the dynamics of a team.  Business people have some clue about what makes a great environmental mixture of people.  But no one understands the dynamics of bringing people together for a common outcome better than musicians.  

I've always admired the role of an orchestra conductor, especially those who lead large symphonies.  Whether you lead large organizations of people or simply interact with peers, customers, and managers there are few skills as important as the harmonious interaction with others.  I'm not a psychologist and certainly not an expert on people.  One thing I have observed and been rewarded for in my career (and personal life), however, has been the recongition of how my actions affect those around me.

Consider the issues that one simple instrument out of tune would cause in a 100 piece orchestra.  Or how about the kettle drum (better yet, the gong) player spacing off and missing a queue by a couple of seconds.  With professionals, the room for error is miniscule.  What drives the best performers to this level of precision?  Talent?  Yes, but more so dedication to their craft.  Practice builds an inner ear.  Practice builds an internal rythm and sense of symponic harmony.  Practice may not make perfect but it does make permanent.  How you practice is how you perform.  

Whatever you do is very similar to the musician and even to the conductor.  Your craft requires countless hours of learning, practice, and working with others.  The difference between harmony and discord is the ability to keep more than one thing in sync with another.  Life has its allegro and andante.  Each requires a different pace and mentality.  Go with the right pace at the appropriate time.  You will have times it's important to crescendo and times that call for diminuendo.  Volume levels are not right or wrong.  They are appropriate in the right parts of the piece you're playing.  

Listen to others.  Watch the conductor.  Learn from the best.  The difference between chaos and well orchestrated performance is the ability for a leader to bring everyone together and the willingnesss for the players to dedicate themselves and submit thier own ego to the cause of createing something greater than they could ever produce on thier own.  

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