Thursday, December 3, 2009


I recently watched an episode of the television show, Glee. It reminded me that once or twice I missed track or cross country practice because I was accompanying a Girl Scout troop's production of the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, Patience. I think I might have cried when our coach attended a performance along with several of my teammates, except boys didn't cry back then. Someone told me Coach had asked the entire team to show up.

Early in my career, I learned that when I disliked someone at first meeting I had better pay attention to my wiggling antennae and ask, "what is it that drives me nuts about this person?" Introspection would spot the culprit, invariably something that reminded me of myself -- such as my typically quick reaction to a challenge without thinking, or the fact that he and I both wore a blue suit and wingtip shoes as recommended by a stupid book each of us kept on a shelf (Dress for Success, John T. Malloy). Likewise, similarities between sports and music may explain why they're often viewed at loggerheads.

Athletes and musicians have their own Olympic-like events and the road to success depends on daily, repetitive practice. A musician, like a runner, must develop a plan and a schedule, with the goal of peaking on a specified date. Muscles must be primed to remember, hence the term "muscle memory," because when the big day comes, success depends on a trained brain and a fit body working together.

"Remember," says Virginia, "discipline is interdisciplinary." She's right, of course. I didn't mean to limit these thoughts to music and sports. They apply equally to other endeavors and to life in general. Successful people -- those who feel good about their performance along the paths they've chosen -- train their minds and bodies with persistent discipline. Sports and music are training grounds for discipline, but they're not alone:

-- Gardening
-- Reading
-- Writing
-- Driving a forklift
-- Wine- and cheese-making
-- Farming
-- Carpentry
-- Woodworking
-- Teaching
........ [fill in the blank].

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