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The Quiet Miracle of Progress

Dec 14, 2019

Last night I went to a concert at my son's school.

His band teacher did something unusual.  Instead of having a concert that featured the bands from each grade—5th, then 6th, then 7th, then 8th, then the high school band—she chose to hold the concert with only the 5th grade band and the high school band.

The other grades had their concert on a separate night.

She said she wanted parents to be able to see the remarkable difference between these two bands, one at the very beginning of their band experience and one at the end for many of the students.

Most of the 5th graders have only been playing their instruments for three months.  Many of them have never read music.  When they played, they struggled to play in tune.  There were lots of squeaks from the clarinet section.  They plodded slowly and painfully through "Jingle Bells."  

And then the high school band took the stage.  They sounded like the London Philharmonic in comparison, with perfect pitch, rhythm and musicality.  It felt a little like magic.

How could this amazing group of musicians, ever have been like the one that just played?

It was astounding to see what could happen over time. 

It was a difference I hadn't noticed at other concerts, where the bands steadily got better as the concert progressed through all the grades.

It reminded me that lots of times, when we look at our progress, it's really hard to see any at all.  The differences from day-to-day and week-to-week are so slow and subtle that we don't notice that anything has changed.  It's easy to get discouraged.

But there is so much to be said for the idea that we just need to keep going.  Regardless of the evidence.  Regardless of the fact that we feel unchanged.  Just keep going.  

Something is happening even if you can't see it.

The people who create change in their lives, who accomplish the things they want, do so a day at a time—even a moment at a time.

If you want to make progress, you have to stop measuring it.  

If you want to make progress, you have to stop looking for feedback.

You just have to work.

And wait.

Until it appears...almost like magic.



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