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  • Writer's pictureKamara Hennessey


One of the advantages of being an 'Elite' Educator in the private Ultimate Music Theory Facebook page/s (exclusive to music educators) is the opportunity to connect and share information on topics that are relevant, and subsequently get valuable feedback from posted comments.

As a member with the designated UMT certification (U.M.T.C), and also in the UMTEE program, these have allowed me life long access to teaching and coaching call videos that I can review as a refresher. In the replay of one such coaching call video (the final live one recorded in 2020) facilitated by our mentor/guide, Glory St. Germain, she shared some lessons and quotes from author, John C. Maxwell. In my home library, I have Maxwell's books that I often re-read pertinent chapters written in his Failing Forward; Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones For Success: Developing the Leader Within You: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (Revised & Updated; 10th Anniversary Edition): The Winning Attitude.

In that CC video, St. Germain explored the Topic: "Help Others Reach Their Potential" where she outlined 7 Keys to help cultivate attitude of contribution. Numbers 6 and 7 resonated with me the most. #6:- Focus on Self Development, Not Self Fulfillment. What separates these two? It's the motive! I also learned what defines these two as one pursues ... Self Fulfillment is doing what I enjoy the most. But this "activity" can only serve me well as it depends on the mood I am in any given day. On the other hand, Self Development states what I am talented and uniquely fit to do, and what becomes my responsibility; i.e. educating others, serving my family (by using words that uplift and encourage, not giving advice, not judging...). To that I will also add being attuned to one's community by giving generously of one's time and resources - whether it is little or a lot ... - to where there is an appeal to serve in areas of greatest need, instead of being on the receiving end of it. Regardless my mood, circumstance, what others say or do, developing oneself is done through the directive of investing and becoming engaged in the ideology of continually and abundantly sowing the seeds. Most of all in that process it requires one to be patience, and the rich reward of a harvest blossoms. To keep giving while waiting for the bounty apparently is the "law of the Universe". One of the wisdom that came from my mom in her nurturing ... was the belief that we must not always keep the cup full and overflowing in the hoarding; it must be emptied from time to time in order for it to have room to fill in more / be replenished with something bigger / better.

#6: Keep Growing to Keep Giving. Complacency, or the belief that one has grown enough in terms of acquired skills and knowledge, therefore no need to keep on learning, results in losing that innovative spirit. Whenever, I am asked "who are you / what do you do" my reply has always been "I am a work in progress". I keep realizing the more I learn, the less I know. Therefore, as appropriate to my interests, I will not hesitate to invest the time and money to attend Conferences, Conventions, Workshops, etc. I see it as an opportunity to network and "pick" the "expert's" brain in order to 'sponge' on their innovative and creative spirit. Many years ago, I was quite surprise by a colleague who remarked that she did not need to attend another workshop that was being offered at an ORMTA Convention. She had heard the clinician present on that topic, and in her opinion that individual did not have anything new to say to her. For me, however, even though I had attended that same workshop in previous years, I still felt that I would learn something new again, as I may have missed picking up on some vital information, or the clinician may present the topic from a different perspective, bringing more clarity for the "ah ha" I get it ...

From another standpoint I see self-development as being self-fulfillment as well when one can see the benefits in the long term growth. It is analogous to the planning out of a Financial Portfolio where there is a diverse mix of assets and liabilities that helps preserve some sense of balance in the "bull" and "bear" market, and the staying powers that can occur through the fluctuations.

The concluding statement "instead of playing to win, the individual starts playing not to lose" that was made by St. Germain's in reference to not growing ... aptly defined an overtly expressed boxed in mentality that exposes the "scarcity mindset" that prevails. With that in mind, I quote some pertinent lines from the poem THE DASH by Linda Ellis (copyright 1996). It certainly reflects what one aspires to achieve that bring purpose and meaning in an active life that would have declared as being one of expansion or contraction in the beliefs that one held and acted upon.

"I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend

He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning ... to the end

But he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years

For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth.


For it matters not, how much we own, the cars .... the house...the cash

What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.


Remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read, with your life's actions to rehash ...

Would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent YOUR dash?"

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