The Legacy of the Symphony

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I love orchestral music. I count the melding of dozens of different instruments of varying timbres and pitches to emotionally move the listener as one of God’s greatest gifts.

Because of my deeply held affection, I seek the symphonic experience across the country in my travels and have been fortunate enough to hear some of the nation’s preeminent orchestras. Each time I soak in the beauty of the music, I find my mind wandering to study the orchestra personnel and the glaringly low percentage of young players. I’m distracted by the astounding reality that there seems to be a universal consistency that the legacy of classically trained professional musicians is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

In 2017, few children cite musical instrument lessons as part of their extracurricular activities and an even more abysmal number are truly committed to perfecting their craft. Across the country, the music departments of colleges and universities are transitioning their courses of study to that of digital music production and an emphasis on the music industry.    

The staggering reality of this cultural shift is an indictment on the legacy we are building as parents, teachers and mentors and our failure to embrace the idea of delayed gratification, hard work and goal setting in those in whom we invest. Even though numerous studies have proven that the learning of a musical instrument (not the mastering) is tied to cognitive and behavioral discipline, problem solving competency and emotional balance, we discount the importance in lieu of trendier and more quickly mastered activities. In an effort to avoid the pushback from our young charges regarding an hour of musical instrument practice and sitting still, we choose to justify our concession by professing that we don’t want to push our children too much.

As a coaching and leadership practitioner, the parallels between the disappearance of proficient musicians and the professional behaviors of the average leaders of corporations, small businesses and associations is significant. In an effort to produce, preside and prepare, we fail to strategically provide the guidance to assure the viability of the organization for years to come. We understandably spend large amounts of money for achieving cutting-edge technology, marketing and workforce retention. We even wisely invest in the current company pacesetters, but fall short of identifying future leadership.

The concept of legacy building is unique, but is viewed by many as the foundational assurance of long term success and company security. In order to fully embrace the model of developing future leaders, the less-than-attractive idea of future return on investment, tenacity, patience and commitment are imperative. Often, guidance from coaching professionals in identifying the personality traits and learning styles of less experienced team members can help in building a substantive program of growing future company leaders.

What is your personal or professional commitment to legacy building?
1. Are you seeking volunteers for projects from younger and less experienced employees in an effort to identify their talents, innate leadership ability and creativity?
2. Are you building your company goals a year at a time, or are you actively building a strategic growth plan for future years?
3. Are you considering a mentoring plan of action to foster not only future leaders, but to also energize experienced team members?
4. Are you engaging coaching and leadership practitioners to assist in company goal setting, talent identification and accountability?

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