Posts Tagged ‘perspective’

I loathe the end of the school year. I cannot stand goodbyes. It has gotten to the point that I don’t even go to commencement because I do not trust that I won’t break down into tears. Frankly, I hate endings. There is, however, one moment I relish even less:

Student Staff Leadership Announcement Day

The students wait with baited breath for the Facebook post to hit. They get worked up, filled with anxiety, desperate for the results of auditions and interviews. I, however, sit and stare at the list for days on end. No matter what I do I am going to disappoint some of my students. Some will take a deep breath when they don’t see their name on the list and are ok. Some will become so angry they will throw a chair through a glass door (yes, this happened once). Some will be furious with me – they think I hate them, or at the very least, don’t like them. Some will quit band altogether.

  • I sit and stare at the list of names knowing that I cannot give leadership positions out just because a student is a senior and I want to do something nice for them before they graduate.
  • I sit and stare at the list of names knowing I must be a teacher and do what I think is in the best interest of each student applicant.
  • I sit and stare at the list of names knowing that if my students don’t learn what it is to not get something they want while still in college they may NEVER learn that hard lesson.
  • I sit and stare…and stare…at the equivalent of a surgical waterproof bandage placed over a wound that must be removed after 7-10 days. A bandage that has almost become one with the skin. You want to rip it off fast like a bandaid but you can’t. If you do you run the risk of tearing the skin and ripping the wound open. So you proceed gingerly and carefully and slowly….and the agony lasts “forever.” Finally it’s off and all you can do is sit back and hope for the best.

Ladies and gentlemen: being in band is not, has never been, and will never be about securing and holding a leadership title. Sure it’s cool. Sure it means you have a chance to practice teaching. Sure it means you’ve been given responsibilities. Sure it means you can have an impact on the program.  But you can do all those things WITHOUT A TITLE!!

  • Being a member in your band means setting an example for others. You don’t need a title to do that.
  • Being a member in your band means helping the person next to you, teaching the person next to you. You don’t need a title to do that.
  • Being a member in your band means being responsible for knowing your music and drill. You don’t need a title to do that.
  • Being a member in your band means having an impact on other members, your institution, and every person who ever sees the program. You don’t need a title to do that.
  • Being a member in your band is cool in and of itself — and don’t let anyone ever tell you any differently! (…and you don’t need a title to do that.)

Sometimes being a leader is harder than usual…and this is one of those times.

Congratulations to all who received positions on the 2017 UDMB Leadership Staff. Congratulations to ALL the applicants too — you put yourselves out there and took a chance. That is a bigger accomplishment than anything else!

We see everything from our own perspective first. If you are like me you also take a moment to view things through the eyes of your “audience.” It is this perspective that can be the most revealing…if you allow it to be.

I am a very lucky person. Some would say blessed, others would say successful or fortuitous. My humble hat has always been glued to my head…frankly, at this point it is difficult to tell where the hat ends and my head begins. I have always put the band, DMA, whatever, first, and me second. It’s just how I am. Perhaps it is my deep rooted insecurity, or heck, maybe I’m just too pessimistic to enjoy the “NOW.” <oh, you didn’t know those two things about me — insecurity and pessimism — did you?! …oops.> Whatever it is, it is who I am: others first, me second.

This past Friday, however, I did something I have never done before–I pursued “rubbing elbows” with a celebrity. I actually got myself right up against the metal barricade in front of my students, had my phone camera “at the ready,” and was not going to miss getting a selfie with Joe Biden!  Nope. This time I was going to swallow my fears, be selfish, and GET THAT PICTURE!

But I skipped a lot so allow me to backtrack…..

Joe Biden, former Vice President of the United States of America, is also an alum of the University of Delaware. I have had the privilege of meeting him before: 2 football games (one in which I was able to chat with him for 15 seconds at the conclusion of Band Day halftime) and 1 basketball game that resulted in my taking a photo of him with the UD Pep Band. At the same time, perhaps more importantly, when I was able to meet and speak with his son, Beau.

I thought it odd at the basketball game when he came up behind me, gave me a hug and kiss and said, “Heidi, the band is always fantastic!” Odd because how on earth would Joe Biden know my name??? I brushed the thought aside immediately because the answer was obvious: someone told him my name prior to him coming over to the band. Still, it was overwhelming to say the least!

Back in January I was asked to put the band back together for a welcome back rally of sorts at the Wilmington Riverfront. He and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, took the train home from Washington, D.C. one final time after the 2017 Inauguration Ceremony. Between undergrads and alumni we were able to get over 200 bandos at the event.  It was one of those “positively life-changing” experiences that folks would not have had if not for band! When I was asked to scrape together what I could for the public announcement of the new Biden Institute at UD I knew I had to make it happen.

100 UDMB members stood on the The Green behind Memorial Hall on a gray, cold, raw Friday at noon. “Delaware Forever” and the “Fight Song” echoed up and down the grassy expanse, sound bouncing off the Georgian brick buildings. Over 2000 students were in attendance–all yelling “Biden Is Back.” It was a great event to usher in the new initiative at UD and in many ways, excite the student body about getting “off your rear and making a difference in the world!” <Biden’s words, not mine.> The air was electric despite the November-like conditions in April. The event concluded with another round of the “Fight Song” and then I saw it–I saw the way The Man exited the stage….and I was all over it!

I seconded guessed myself a few times, thinking, “Let the kids get up there.” “You look like a fool trying to get a selfie with him.” “Why do you even want to do this?!” Finally I shut the voice down. Screw it. Be one of the masses. He doesn’t know you, he doesn’t care. It’s part of the political game.

Secret Service — WOW! Those boys are serious dudes! My hands were freezing and I kept switching the phone between them and shoving the free hand inside my coat pocket….and I was being watched like a hawk! Again I pushed the thoughts of backing away from my mind. He was three people to my left, it’s now or never……..

I extended my right hand has he approached….he looked at my hand and began to reach for it…he looked up with that Joe Biden smile, you know, that million dollar smile we’ve seen for decades…we made eye contact…. and his entire face changed from one of political persona to one of “Hey! I know this person!”

The next minute was one of him going on and on and on about the band, about the program I continue to provide, about making sure I was not going to stop doing what I was doing.

I stood there with a big, stupid smile on my face saying ‘thank you’ and ‘ok’ and ‘yes sir’ because I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO! All I wanted was a selfie with Joe Biden and I got pulled into a freaking bear hug!

I’m still overwhelmed by the entire moment. I was at an event with a man known around the globe–a man who has done more with his life than I can even begin to fathom–and HE pulls ME into a hug after going on and on about me and the UDMB!

Perspective. Starred Thought: “You will never know the impact you have upon another person.” Perspective.

…I still haven’t gotten a selfie with @JoeBiden though…

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