Benjamin Zander conducts the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. At the age of 45, he had a life changing insight. He explained, “I’d been conducting for twenty years, and I suddenly had a realization. The conductor of an orchestra doesn’t make a sound. [His power depends] on his ability to make other people powerful. And that changed everything for me. I realized my job was to awaken possibility in other people.” He continued, “If their eyes are not shining, you know you’re doing it. If the eyes are not shining, you get to ask a question: who am I being that my players’ eyes are not shining?”*
Because I raised a violinist, I had often made the association between motherhood and conducting (although mothers rarely get to take a bow). But Mr. Zander’s comments take the orchestrating of a family to a whole new level.
1. The conductor doesn’t make a sound. Now, you and I both know that parents make sounds, sometimes very loud ones. But, if you stop and think about it, so does a conductor. In rehearsal. But, as the curtain opens for a live performance, he is mute and trusts the musicians to do as they’ve been trained. We guide, instruct, and discipline in private, at home. However, when the curtain rises on experiences in the world, on a child leaving home for college, we have to trust that our training has been done well because it is now too late for words.
2. A conductor’s power depends on his ability to make other people powerful. Wow! That hits a little close to home. Are we empowering others or keeping control ourselves? It is only when we help our children learn their own power that we have been truly successful.
3. It is a conductor’s job to awaken possibility. Possibility is such a fragile and precious thing. Are you calling out your children’s possibility or expecting them to fit in a mold? I’ll be honest, neither of my kids turned out the way I would have guessed before I became their mother. However, once they entered my life, I found myself shifting my expectations and my training plans to fit who they were at their core. I had to move outside of myself to develop their possibilities.
4. Who am I being that my players’ eyes are not shining? He doesn’t pass the buck. He doesn’t blame the musicians, or their lack of practice or their age or their situation. If their eyes are not shining, he questions who he is being, what he is doing. Who am I being, as a parent, if my children’s eyes are dull? May the wrestling with these questions result in a home filled with lovely music!
*EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey
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