The auditorium was packed with high school band members from all over the country. I was there to speak at the request of my friend and fellow speaker Fran Kick. It wasn’t my typical audience and for this particular session I was in the audience amongst this very highly-energized crowd. I don’t remember the speaker’s topic or one ounce of content from his presentation.
But, I will never forget the experience he created.
In the middle of his presentation he asked everyone to stand. I knew, from my own session with this crowd, that these high school band members were enthusiastically responsive to instructions. They immediately stood with a stir and without a second thought I fell right into formation with them.
The speaker then gave the simple instructions that we were all going to hum a song. He noted his selection of Amazing Grace because he assumed the tune would be familiar to everyone. He instructed all to begin on the count of three. And began it did. The sound sweetly and vastly filled the entire auditorium. I thought … nice! The speaker didn’t agree. He sourly gave us about a 3 on a scale of 10. I internally disagreed noting this was a band conference not a chorus conference. Bands play instruments … a chorus sings. Little did I know what this speaker knew.
Yet, I figured he was going to ask us to try it again.
And he did. Except, this time, intentionally raising the bar asking everyone to give it their best. I couldn’t believe the exponential difference. I felt a chill run through me as the humming wound down. The speaker held for a significant pause. I was certain he had chills too. His smile gave away his pleasure. Or so I thought. And then he responded … “better, I’d say a 7. I thought, a SEVEN? Are you kidding me? That was a 12 on a scale of 10. Little did I know what this speaker knew.
But I knew it was coming. A third attempt that is. Except, this time, he did more than just raise the bar. I don’t remember all he said over the next minute. Something about digging way down. He then took a long pause. I do remember his last 8 words … “I want you to give it your everything.” As I write this, I still get chills thinking about the humming of those first several bars. It was beyond beautiful.
It was in that moment that harmony found its way in.
I’m certain it was moments later that angels began to descend upon us. It sure felt that way. As we finished, there was a longer silence than before. I was deeply hoping the speaker would give us a 9 … just so we could do it again. Yet, this time, I sensed even he was taken-back a bit. After a continued pause, he finally broke the silence … “That, my friends, was a 10. That was your everything.”
Yet, it was more than that. It wasn’t only our everything. It was our everyone. Together. There was no competition … no war between the left side and the right side of the auditorium or the front side and the back side of the auditorium. No male or female or any other segmentation. No uniforms to differentiate or segregate. It was everyone together … and from that togetherness came the opportunity for harmony to shine through. And it most certainly did.
Ironically, these bands would eventually perform in competition.
But not in this moment. This moment was together. This moment was one. And I have never forgotten that moment. Several times, I have recalled that auditorium packed with many shapes and shades of diversity. That experience served-up many lessons. And one of them was the precise difference between the shallow nature of peaceful coexistence and the graceful depth of genuine harmony made possible only by a rich diversity.
It truly is amazing what happens when you dig for your greatest everything … an everything that rests deep within your core waiting to be sung. It delivers an amazing grace.