Ode to the Maestro

As a cellist and owner of an MBA in Leadership, this marquee message, located on the side of the highway between Island Lake and Wauconda, IL, speaks directly to me.

A person who leads the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.

The leader of the orchestra – the conductor, the maestro – has a focus on the musicians in front of him. Although the music is made for the crowd, the conductor does quite literally have his back to them, except for the walking in and out part and perhaps a short greeting before the performance.

The musicians face the crowd and each have a role in the whole of the beautiful sounds that envelope the entire space. Orchestral playing – believe it or not – is highly intense and certainly causes me to sweat and catch my breath at times. A musician gives her whole self in public performace; it really seeps out of your soul and transitions to the instrument on which you have practiced and trained for this very moment.

An orchestra may consist of 60 – 70 musicians, and yet the star of any orchestra performance really is the conductor, the leader of the orchestra, who maintains his back to the crowd.

A leader isn’t an individual performer; he may not even know how to play all of the instruments that he conducts. But, it is the act of bringing all of these different instruments together, all operated by different people, all producing vastly differing sounds, to create a whole that makes sense and moreover reaches the human senses on a deeper level than usually expected from such peformances. (Shamelsss plug for the Harper Symphony Orchestra to follow.)

The best of maestros make it appear easy, like most experts do in their trade. They swing the baton around and everyone keeps time. It is such an amazing feeling to be a part of the group, to feel the music all around you, to be in cadence with everyone, the music literally flowing through your entire self. But the main rule is all eyes on the conductor. Abrupt changes in tempo or transitions between movements require a cue from the conductor. Things can quickly fall apart if the individual musicians don’t pay attention to the conductor, and the pressure is on the maestro to keep it all together, communicating to all in the orchestra what is next.

I appreciate the efforts of our local business to share this with our community. Profound thought belongs everywhere. Although I was unable to determine who owns this marquee sign, I hope to discover that and will post a link to their business when I figure it out.

Here we go – shameless plug –

I am a cellist in the Harper Symphony Orchestra in Palatine, IL, and invite you to like our Facebook page and jot down the dates for our upcomimg.2018 – 2019 season.

https://www.facebook.com/HarperSymphonyOrchestra

2018 – 2019 Season Concerts:

October 7, 2018

December 9, 2018

April 7, 2019

May 12, 2019 (Mother’s Day)

All concerts are on a Sunday and begin at 3 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center at Harper College in Palatine, IL. Hope to see you there!

Shout out to the Maestros who have been a part of my life – from Mark Bettcher back at Golfview Elementary and CMS who guided my transition from violin to cello, to Brian Groner here at Harper Symphony who gave me a chance after a 19-year hiatus ( I know that was a risk!), to my current Maestro and cello instructor, Tony Porter who continues to guide me in my growth and progression as a cellist. Guys – this blog post is for you!

The Value of Perception

Happy 4th of July!

Happy Independence Day!

However you choose to state the sentiment, I hope you enjoyed a lovely holiday with your family.

This post is inspired by a conversation I had yesterday regarding the choice of words. Is the use of “Happy 4th of July” offensive to someone who chooses the “Independence Day” vocab? At first, I was quick to dismiss it as silly, but after some consideration, I supposed there could be a reason for offensiveness, though I am not at all in this situation.

It is possible that someone may be so patriotic and proud to be an American that saying the “4th of July” just downplays what the day really is.

In addition, I’ve seen some posts circulating stating the July 2 is the actual day. So, in a world where the date is in dispute, the “4th of July” may just be another day. In this scenario, “Independence Day” covers all bases.

So, although the difference is immaterial to me, I summarize that this discussion brought me to the conclusion that I’ll stick with “Independence Day”, to err on the side of caution.

There are lessons to be learned from this scenario:

  • Everyone has a unique perspective, their own way of seeing the world. Taking time to understand others’ viewpoints is critical in developing empathy for them.
  • Having a different perspective doesn’t (always) mean that someone is right and someone is wrong. Unless we’re talking about a crime, there can be two right parties in a conflict of views. Using the varying perspectives actually brings diversity of opinion into problem solving which can bring ideas to life that never before had a chance.
  • Don’t assume anything! Without inquiry, we never know what the purpose of another’s actions or words may be. This goes for managing others in a workplace as well as in your personal relationships. When we ask sincere questions to understand someone’s desired message rather than act with our own understanding or perception, we may just get it all wrong.

What are your thoughts on this situation?

That itching, nagging thought or idea

We all know we have that one ounce of extra something in us that could truly drive us to our personal limits. That itching, nagging thought or idea that just excites your mind, making your blood pump and your palms sweat, that idea that is going to change the world! (Imagine a guy with his white dress shirt top couple buttons unbuttoned, megaphone in hand exclaiming those last three words. That’s what I picture.)  So, why don’t more people have their success story? Why do so many people tell that itching, nagging thought or idea to just go away?

Could it be that really we’re afraid of becoming successful?  Could it be that although it is just such a great and respectable goal it would require us to change?

A new schedule.  New commute routes to learn. New contacts to create. Starting from the bottom yet again. These are scary and daunting truths about change,  at least in your career.

I bet if I asked for a show of hands in a random audience of who’s self-sabotaged an opportunity or experience because of the fear of change that the number of hands raised would far underrepresent the minds of those chewing on something they’d rather keep to themselves.

What if even one of those people could become inspired enough to take the plunge and answer that itching, nagging idea or thought? Maybe the answer to the plastic grocery bag problem? Or, perhaps the training to become the world’s happiest flight attendant and travel the world? Or even the response to a call for a theological life?

Do you have a story to share?  Was your hand raised or did you keep it to yourself? Did you listen to that itching, nagging thought or idea and have success? Or even a flop? (They say the journey is just as important as the destination.)

Zucchini Heaven!

I’m quite the amateur home gardener with about four years of attempted organic summer foods. Each fruit and vegetable has its own care label, yet the vast majority of my experience forgets this concept after planting the seeds.  Each year, the general gardening concepts become more and more clear to me, such as not watering everyday once established to encourage root growth or ensuring to thin the plants once they sprout, especially the spreaders such as my lovely cucumber and zucchini plants. About them…they are doing just lovely, even in this horrible drought we are experiencing in the Chicagoland area. It was unclear to me prior to this season that they could thrive in such conditions. What a thrill when I found that first monster of a zucchini!  I had to google how to harvest it – I had no clue what to do! I feel that I have grown as a gardener and have a leadership lesson to share: Some things and people have wonderful hidden talents and abilities that seem to emerge when least expected or in the toughest times. Sometimes,  it may be simply a lack of knowledge by others or perhaps a misuse of talent. We are all a work in progress. I learned from my zucchini and it served its true purpose in my delicious loaf of zucchini bread. True learning at its best is reciprocal.

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Leadership emerges everywhere…even The Treehouse!

As my sister and I sit at The Treehouse with our kiddos, an indoor children’s play place, I can’t help but ponder yet again about the correlations between parenting and leadership.

This post will validate the point, at least for me,  that there is no one right management style for every situation. The individuals,  the culture, and the situation keep managers and parents constantly on their toes.

My nephew is 18 months now and starting to enter the world of the terrible twos. This is the age when I say there is a need for a change in management style.

“Its time to take back the role of the boss!” Up until this age it’s about allowing your children to explore under your watch rather freely. I’d consider it an empowering kind of micromanagement. Now that their boundaries have become rather transparent and they see an opportunity to push their limits, the rein on their power trips must be brought in. My role as the parent of a three year old most certainly is disciplinary, micromanagement all the way. Empowerment is already embedded into her culture; now I’m trying to set some limits after a period of free rein!

What has been your experience as your children enter those terrible twos? Have you noticed a change in “management style”?  As I am just a new mom, how about those changes in management that have yet to occur as she continues to grow? This post seeks your feedback and comments on the topic!

Thanks for reading! I am really enjoying the world of blogging and certainly plan to continue to spontaneously make posts as the moment arises!