Are You Doing Your Best Work?

If you are a long-time reader of this blog you know that Cornelia and I like to attend live performances including the ballet, theatre, and musical events. From time to time we are fortunate to be invited to a rehearsal of the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. It is an amazing experience to sit in the beautiful Concert Hall and be able to witness true professionals working to be even better!

The rehearsal begins with the musicians on stage in casual clothes so right off the bat you know this is not a concert—if it were, they’d be in formal evening wear—not jeans and sweaters! They tune up their instrument which really doesn’t sound like music at all and then the conductor walks in. He sometimes speaks to those of us in the rehearsal but sometimes he just walks in, picks up his baton and they begin the first piece.

They play it all the way through and to the untrained ear, it sounds perfect. At the end of the piece, he puts down his baton but no one relaxes. He begins to give instructions on where a particular instrument or performer could be better. Those of us in the audience look at each other in awe—we thought it was perfect to begin with. The professionals know better—they know there is always some way they could improve.

Sometimes they play portions of the piece again incorporating his suggestions but most of the time, he trusts the orchestra to do what’s he’s suggested later in the day when they do a live performance for hundreds of people—for real this time!

So, a question for you is--are you doing your best work right now and if not, what would you need to make that happen? Do you need some training or maybe just some time to “practice” what you do so that you can do it better? Do you need direction from someone like a conductor who can point out ways you might improve and can you get that help from your manager or mentor? Are you comfortable asking for help and if not, why not?

Just as professional athletes practice for hours and hours even after achieving the highest levels of performance in their sport and professional musicians practice and take direction from their conductor, so should we all strive to be sure we do our best work to the best of our ability.

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