One of my cousins once questioned me when I said that a certain person was “one of my heroes.” She wondered if that person merited such a lofty title, and I saw what she meant. When I say that, I am not suggesting that the person has superhuman qualities ascribed to heroes of literature or mythology. (Sorry, Achilles and Clark Kent.)
When I use that phrase, I’m appropriating the first two definitions that Merriam-Webster provides: “a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities; a person who is greatly admired.”
Having said that, one of those true heroes of mine is Benjamin Zander, who has distinguished himself as a conductor, musician, teacher, author, inspirational speaker, and evangelist for classical music. I refreshed myself this week by going back and revisiting his Ted talk video from 2008, in which he boldly asserts and effectively proves that everyone can love, understand, and be moved by classical music. (“Classical music is for everybody. Everybody!“)
At the very least, his infectious enthusiasm and raconteur genius is worth investing 20 minutes of your time, and I urge you to do so below. Don’t let the specter of that horridly foreign thing called “classical music” keep you from watching this video. Allow Zander to entertain you, make you laugh, get you excited, and touch your heart.
Having watched Zander, you now know about “one-buttock playing.” Let me encourage you to further your understanding of how this concept — as well as others such as “Giving an A,” “Rule Number 6,” and “Leading from Any Chair” — can be life-transforming as expounded in the book The Art of Possibility, by Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Zander. (Check it out from your library, or click on the graphic of the book’s cover art at right to find out how to own it.)
Though he might not put this on his professional bio, I’ve found Zander’s message about achieving possibilities in others to be, at its root, an analog to the Christian doctrine of the loving servant (Mark 10:44-45). You’ll know what I’m talking about at roughly the 18:00 mark of the video, when Zander shares how we can know if we are encouraging possibilities in others. You can tell, he says, when you see their eyes light up, which is something a conductor should look for in the orchestra’s players. “If the eyes eyes are not shining, you get to ask a question: Who am I being that my players’ eyes are not shining?”
From the book’s publicity blurb: “The Zanders’ deceptively simple practices are based on two premises: that life is composed as a story (‘it’s all invented’) and that, with new definitions, much more is possible than people ordinarily think. The book shifts our perspective with uplifting stories, parables, and anecdotes from the authors’ person experiences as well as from famous and everyday heroes.”
And so, we come back around to the subject of heroes. I’ll write more about other heroes of mine in the future.