Scene One – School ball diamond – April 27, 1957
“Dickey, are you crying?”
“You sure look sad sitting alone on a sunny day. Something wrong?”
My chin bumps my chest. “No, nothing’s wrong.”
My piano teacher said, “Music communicates in many ways. What if you composed a melody where your music goes down the scale from higher to lower notes? In most of your songs, melodies ascend.”
How could I do this? That evening I struggled to compose a descending melody. Without a point of reference, or awareness of an example, it’s difficult to create new music.
This morning I heard a descending melody on the radio. I never heard the descending melody in the song until my piano teacher asked her question. When we pause and pay attention to what we experience, we raise our awareness in the present moment. If we increase awareness in one part of life, we elevate attention in other parts as well.
“Life is like music,” Sam observed.
I coach Sam, a healthcare clinic manager on staffing issues. His comment perked my interest. “Say more, Sam.”
“Here’s what I mean,” Sam explained. “All notes need to be heard. For example, I often compose piano music in the key of C major. If my melody includes an F major chord and I want to finish my song, I usually take my music directly to a C major chord. This transition is the quickest way to finish my tune because I hear two compatible major chords that suggest completion.”
Being truly present with others is an important dynamic of successful relationships. We build relationships through meaningful conversation. Susan Scott in “Fierce Conversations” says, “Conversation is the relationship.”
Listening is cited among the top attributes of successful business leaders. Listening, reflecting on what is being said, and discerning meaning behind employee stories, the “real” or base-line issues, requires leaders to inquire, to ask questions which cause an employee to stop and think.
Successful business leaders know the difference between inquiry and leading questions. Leaders may have opinions about an employee’s story and probable course of action and may be tempted to ask questions which lead to their predetermined conclusion. Successful leaders, however, realize the importance of employees’ finding their own truths, so employees will embrace the outcomes of their actions.
About the Author
Richard Wilberg is a creativity coach, musician, photographer, and former business leader who lives in Madison, Wisconsin.