Last night I posted this on Facebook, and it got me thinking.

“I’m incredibly thankful for those who taught me to play trumpet decades ago, and the many I got to play with. There’s nothing like performing with others!”

Facebook Post – Chris Reavis

What was it about performing with others that was so special, and why does that carry over to the rest of our lives so powerfully?

Here are four ways music was amazing for me in my youth:

  1. There’s certainly the camaraderie of musicians. I remember going from junior high to high school, a difficult transition for any kid. Freshman get harassed and Seniors seem so old. It can be especially intimidating at a larger school. Because of my band colleagues, I had a safety net and a family of 100 people, in every grade, looking out for me. It made what could have been a tough transition, a lot easier.
  1. There’s the outcome of dedicated effort. In addition to hundreds of hours of band practice together, most of us practiced hundreds more on our own. That five minute song in concert has thousands of hours behind it. Music can be especially rewarding as we put the pieces together and get better every time we do it. Being recognized as a group and individuals is a monster boost to self esteem.
  1. There’s the vibe of playing with others. While it’s hard for me to put this into words, there’s an amazing energy when performing with other musicians. As we got better, we heard everyone else as we played. We stayed in sync, and were later able to play off of each other, especially as we improvised in jazz band.
  1. It’s an amazing way to express ourselves. When there are big emotions, it’s sometimes difficult to know what to productively do with them. Music gives a great outlet for this, no matter the expertise level, to share a bit of ourselves with the world.

As I write this, the overtones for work and family life are considerable.

Building up great work, friend and family relationships helps transitions. When I need help, ideas, or just people to have fun with, it’s incredibly powerful to have these resources.

Accomplishing together, and putting aside circumstances as excuses, has been my favorite part of my professional career. Much of this follows the patterns I learned in music at a young age. Remembering that those 30 second moments for customers and executives can be the results of thousands of hours of work are very powerful. Keeping the audience (customers) first is as well.

True collaboration is an amazing space to be in. I used to say I would get a “contact high” from being around brilliant people of different backgrounds. It brings out the idea engine and leads to better results. When this is about creating something, and not just talking about a problem relentlessly, it’s an incredibly powerful way to work.

Finding ways to express ourselves through work may sound strange, however denying our humanity is even more strange. While being professional is important, it’s also important to act from our strengths, calling and heart. Further, forgiving others and seeking to bring out the best from them leads to considerable top line benefits in the workplace.

Sure, I’m biased. Music was an incredible resource for me as a kid and young adult. I was blessed with supportive parents, great programs, great teachers and mentors, and opportunities. 

Do you have a similar experience with music, sports or something else as a kid? Has that shaped your work life as an adult? I’d love to hear about it – please comment below!