A Few Things I Wish I Had Said to the JS14 Hornline

As we all know, hindsight is exceptionally clear.

There were quite a few times when I had no idea what to say. Quite a few times when there was a problem I didn’t know how to fix. Quite a few times when I didn’t have good information to give, so you didn’t have good information. This led to more problems.

About six months later, I have read and listened to a significant amount of material about leadership and learned copious amounts about handling these situations. I wish I had done this before the summer, but we can all wish for different choices in the past–it doesn’t change much.

From what I learned throughout the summer and after, there’s a few things I wish I could have said from the very beginning.

If someone yells at you about fixing a problem without giving you information to fix it, they don’t know how to fix it either.

I believe Harrison said this fairly late season in a section leader meeting. I would have loved for the entire hornline to have heard and understood this from the first day of tour.

I got set up in these situations, I set you up in these situations–it was generally a mess.

Coincidentally, I’m not perfect. The drum major and staff that I reported to aren’t perfect. And you aren’t perfect. That being said, when the staff, the drum major, or myself got into a reactive mode there was a lot of making things up on the spot to try to fix things.

Some times it worked, a lot of times it didn’t.

The actions and attitude of the followers reflect those of the leader.

I’m not trying to give myself undue importance. I’m completely over that. I do, however, know that as much as I tried to lead by example, I was far from perfect.

Very, very, far.

I thought I had a good start–a good example on and off the field. Somewhere along the journey it fell apart. I don’t know where, I don’t care to know where, I just know that it did.

I heard this line from a podcast or an audiobook. I’m not sure which. But I do know that it was said in the context of building a great team. And that’s what the hornline is–a team.

It’s not leaders who just take information from the staff and regurgitate it to the rest of the members. It’s a team whose members are co-depentent in just about every way. If one of us messes up on the field, it affects everyone else. If one of us showers too long and delays departure, it affects everyone else. If one of us takes 20 minutes to poop, we’re all late to rehearsal.

In this sense, I’m not questioning whether my job was actually to lead by example. I likely would have been better off encouraging the team to do what they think is right to help everyone else advance the team. Although this in itself would have been a form of leading by example, it would have empowered the team to think about how to do it for themselves and take their own path to getting better, rather than simply copying what is given to them.

You’re not bad people. You’re just making bad choices today.

Anyone can argue all they want about how the choices someone makes are a product of, or influence, or have a great insight into their character.

Of course we all have bad hours, days, weeks, maybe months, or even years. I don’t remember most of what I said in post rehearsal talks, but some of them probably made some of you feel bad.

There’s reasons why that’s okay, but I don’t think that’s the best choice. Sometimes, some of us (including myself) fucked up big time. And someone (including myself) probably made you feel reeeaaalllllyyyy bad about it. Of course, for emphasizing that there was a mistake and how to fix and it and ensuring it never happens again, that’s a legitimate tactic. I’m still not sure it’s the best though.

On tour, when part of the game is looking the same as everyone else, and doing the same things at the same times, it’s very easy to forget that everyone is a real person. It may sound silly, but I sure did it. I don’t know for sure, but I have a feeling that others did it to.

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