nancy williams

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Archive for August, 2007

Successful relationships keep in tune

The stage is set. The instrumentalists have taken their places and are warming up with random melodies that seem to have little or no connection. Now, the time has come. The lights dim and a hush flows through the room as the principal violinist moves to center stage calling the orchestra to order. Silence. The pitch is given: one clear tone that resonates across the stage. One by one, section by section, each musician tunes to that single pitch, knowing that for the orchestra to successfully blend and create the music it desires, the instrumentalists must be in tune.


Certainly, each musician needs to keep his own instrument in proper condition and ready to perform. Each one also brings his own creative talent to the setting with the goal of taking the audience on a magical, musical adventure. However, the key to harmony for the group and a pleasurable experience for listeners is to have all instruments tuned together, building their collective sound from the same foundation. The result? Music, as the composer intended for it to be experienced.


This need to be in tune reaches beyond the stage of the music hall. It’s a vital part of each relationship in our lives – family ties, friendships, connection with coworkers and neighbors, even within organizations, teams and churches. Just as each instrument in the orchestra has its unique part to play in creating the music we enjoy, we, too, offer our own unique talents to our relationships. In a healthy, successful connection, there is a place for each member to contribute those talents and to be part of the process of creating and strengthening the relationship. When we begin by tuning to the same pitch, we’ll all connect to a common foundation and our individual sounds will blend in a way that creates true harmony. We’ll experience it ourselves and we’ll influence those around us in a positive way.


A musical thread runs through our family, and our two sons chose to be in the school band while growing up. They were part of a large, military-style marching band that won numerous state recognitions for their precision as well as their sound. Watching and listening to them in the stands and on the field at halftime was a treat for this “band mom.” They impressed and entertained us with some of the most complicated-looking drills and musical arrangements.


As I watched this well-oiled machine at work, I noticed right away that each practice and each performance began with two important steps. First, before a note was played or a step taken, their undivided attention was on the director as he communicated his goals for them. Whether in the band hall or on the sidelines before the game, they had to tune out all the distractions, set aside their differences, and draw together as one. His message was strong and clear as he told them what they were to accomplish and just how they could make that happen. They tuned their minds to the same focus and their instruments to the same pitch. With a common goal, the fundamentals in place, a unified sound and a well-trained drum major in the lead, they were ready to step out and give an outstanding performance.


The band paraded up and down the football field, in what seemed like such intricate patterns and vibrant waves of color. I watched as each member filled his own unique position, having learned when, where and how to move in a way that fit precisely with everyone else in the band. The cheers from the stands, activities on the sidelines, even bright sunshine or chilling rain didn’t distract them. They kept their eyes on the drum major and worked as one to offer an impressive performance every time.


If we are to experience success in our relationships within musical groups, sports teams, businesses, community organizations, churches, and families, we must take steps to gather our members together and tune to a common pitch. Then we must also take time along the way to remove distractions, reaffirm intentions, retune as needed, and then continue together toward our goals.


Consider your own relationships, if you will. Are they in tune?

Preparing our Students for Success

The heat of summer has planted itself firmly in this month of August as we hustle to fit school shopping, haircuts and visits to the doctor and dentist in with last-minute vacations. The urgency? The lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer will soon end, and a new school year will begin. The sound of early morning alarms will echo and morning traffic will fill the roadways as children find their way to new classrooms, reconnect with friends and step into the role of ‘student.’


Whether these young people are entering the world of education for the first time or beginning their final year, parents want to be sure their children are prepared with everything they need for a successful new year. So, let’s see, parents. Registration complete and records current? Check. Physicals and booster shots up to date? Check. Supplies and appropriate clothes? Check. Carpool arrangements in place or bicycle tires aired? Check.


‘Seems like everything is in order; but wait just a minute. There are a few additional things I would like to add to your list, valuable tools your students will need if they are to have a successful year ahead. They don’t come pre-packaged and they aren’t on sale at your local store. Equipping your children with these tools will require your time, your focus, your wisdom, your patience, your emotional energy and your love. In fact, these are priceless gifts children of every age need each day; and they are looking to you – parents – to help them discover these principles and learn how to incorporate them into their lives. They will need them in their minds and hearts as they take on the opportunities and challenges of the new year. Here’s my list. You won’t need pen and paper, just an open, loving, willing heart.


1. Positive self-image. Children need to hear they are special, that they are loved and valued for who they are, not just for what they accomplish. They may need help at times to see the positive attributes they possess as they discover their value in God’s eyes.


2. Courage. Children face tough challenges, in and out of the classroom. They must learn how to tackle difficulties; and they need to hear your acknowledgment when they do.


3. Confidence. When they hear,”You can do it!” they’ll more likely begin to say, “I can do it!”


4. Resiliency. Children will fall down. We all do. However, they don’t have to stay down, if they learn how to bounce back. Parents can teach them how to pick themselves up, assess what happened, make necessary corrections and then move forward.


5. Respect, kindness, friendliness, patience. These are important building blocks of relationships – friend with friend, student with teacher, parent with child. As you give them these gifts yourself, you model what you are teaching them to offer to others.


6. Self-control. Children must learn how to manage their own behavior appropriately, not an easy task in a society where we often hear the message, “You can have whatever you want and do whatever you want to do.”


7. Sense of humor. They must learn, there’s a time to be serious and there’s a time to laugh. Teach them how to manage their humor in a healthy way, as they look in the mirror and as they connect with others.


8. Graciousness to accept victory; strength to accept defeat. They will experience both.


9. Awareness of God’s constant presence with them. Our children can draw a sense of comfort and confidence in knowing that God is with them and has promised to help them manage life’s challenges as they draw close to him, seek his guidance and make choices that will honor him.


10. Your love and encouragement, along with your prayers for them. Children need to know that when life knocks them down, you will be there for them, just as you will when they celebrate success. They also need to know you will lift them up to the Lord each day.


Let’s support our students, from pre-school through college, by doing all we can to help them ‘dress for success’ – from the inside out. The opportunity is now. The responsibility is ours. The future is theirs.