Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Nasty Drill Sergeant

Annoyed conductor: "Trumpets!! You're not with the rest of the orchestra, you're out of tune, and way too loud!

You're thinking: "No way, man! Your conducting is impossible to follow. It's the strings who are sluggish and the trombones have the pitch problems, not us! And furthermore, maestro, we were not loud enough!" 

Only in your dreams can you respond like that. Try it just once and you won't like what happens. Conductors always get the last word, so don't even think about answering back. You do so to your own detriment.

So how do you handle brutal in-your-face criticism, justified or not? Your response reveals a lot about you. First, realize that the fruits of discipline are usually painfully acquired but necessary for personal and corporate success. The job of the nasty drill sergeant is not to be well-liked but to develop character, self-control, obedience and toughness in his recruits. So fall in, or fall out!

Consider the benefits of the end game. Physical and mental strength tend to put jittery nerves to flight. Developing a steely reserve is vital for success under extreme pressures. So learn to anticipate the insults. They will only make you stronger. Respond well and the next testing will be easier. In so doing you'll win the approval of your sergeant. Responding with silence in the face of unjust or just accusations is often a sign of strength not weakness. Resisting instruction is to refuse improvement.

A brass section of touchy, coddled egos will not be a unified fighting force in the orchestra. They'll argue and go to pieces at the first threat to their manhood. On the other hand, teamwork, humility, submission, and strong leadership are the earmarks of a great section.

Resist tough training and you lose. Expect it, deal with it wisely, and you and your colleagues will win.


Susan Gay said...

Teamwork promotes success! Well written, Phil.

Marvin said...

I am thankful that I had a band director like that drill instructor. That was when I was very young. It was stressful and not fair, but I think that it helped me in my career.