I was catching up with an old friend the other day after work. She’s really active in band, and we were talking about how we were both excited but anxious to be leading our respective organizations next year.
We got to talking about the past school year. One of our football players and a star track athlete, George Atkinson III, was picked to play in the US Army All American Bowl. There was a ceremony one day at lunch to officially announce his selection and honor him and the coaches and the school in general. The Army came and we had TV cameras and press, it was quite a big deal. Well, when the ceremony was all over and the announcements and speeches had all been made, selected members of the marching band went onstage to play some patriotic tunes. But people in the audience, so attentive a few minutes before, wandered off into the quad one by one until there was no crowd left.
When the band got back to the music room, my friend noticed one little freshman trumpeter, usually a really happy kid, looking down. She asked him what was wrong, and he said, “I don’t get why they couldn’t just stay and listen for a minute.” When she tried to comfort him, he looked up and she saw he was crying. Then he said, “Are people ever gonna like us? Or am I just gonna be a loser forever?”
We always hear about the importance of reaching out to people and making everyone feel welcome, but it’s hard to really care until that idea is fleshed out, until it’s relatable. The fact this this boy thought he was destined to be a loser for doing what he was passionate about- that’s a pretty potent personification for me.
This is the kind of stuff that motivates me to try to be better. This is the stuff we’re going to change next year.