Earlier this month, I attended the opening of the Helena Symphony season which featured Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (Ode to Joy), one of my top five favorite musical creations of all time. Even as the pandemic rages all around, I had to be in that concert hall and experience the magic of this complex work of art.
Parts of the piece are rough, showing very clear conflict. Sections are messy, confusing even. And the best part, the one we all know, is triumphant. After I hear that final note, I feel unstoppable.
This piece is played often for motivation in my home where I can place the record needle on the last grove and get to the gold. Sitting in my seat, I found myself wanting to skip to the “best stuff” – the part where I want to stand up and cheer. But I couldn’t, this experience was outside of my control. Watching this performance unfold before me, I had to be patient and navigate through the messy middle.
As it does when I least expect it, inspiration struck. How often do we want to skip through the messy middle to get to the gold? I know I do pretty much every day. I want to move right past the conflict and confusion. I’ll pass on the pain, please.
But that’s not possible. To fully experience the joy, we have to live through the hard stuff. We have to “embrace the suck” as we learn from Brené Brown. I believe that our ability to sit through the messy middle is what makes the joy even more joyous.
Skipping through the rough stuff is not what leaders do. Instead, leaders find ways to appreciate the challenge, knowing in the end the triumph will be even greater.
Be well and lead well,
Chantel M. Schieffer
President & CEO
Class of 2010, Masters 2019