Friday, 2 June 2017

This is how a collaborative person works: 19. encourage your ambition to reverberate

(This post draws heavily upon the experiences of Paul Macalindin as described in his book Upbeat, which chronicles his inspiring work with the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq. To read more posts in this series go to the March to August 2017 Blog Archive on your right.)


Ambitious visions and undertakings are powerful forces; they possess the ability to influence and change people. Their power is particularly important for collaborative undertakings, which tend towards influence and persuasion rather than command and control.

The power of ambitious visions and undertakings derives from their ability to reverberate in three specific ways:
  1. They reverberate 'in the moment' within people. They loosen people's existing perceptions. They encourage people to ask questions about how the world is, their place within it and what each person is capable of and can achieve.
  2. They reverberate within people over time. People remember the experiences and learning gained from being involved in ambitious undertakings. The insights these memories provide and the questions they encourage people to ask about the world and their place within it eventually mature into strong personal beliefs and perceptions that hardwire ambitiousness into everyday lives and actions.
  3. They reverberate out from people. They create ripples and sometimes waves of new possibilities which flow from one person to another, mixing with existing cultures and ways of doing things to create new ways of thinking and acting.     
  
To ensure your collaboration benefits from the reverberation of ambitious visions and undertakings do the following four things:

1. Gather and tell people's individual stories of ambition and the changes it enabled

'NYOI made me dream bigger and all the experience that I collected during these four years led me to be granted a scholarship from DAAD to further study in Germany, which was very competitive.'

Encapsulated in one sentence is the effect participating in the NYOI had on one individual player. The ambition of the NYOI reverberated within this person, loosening pre-existing perceptions and ways of thinking and clearing the way for more positive and ambitious ones to take their place; it changed her perception of the world and what she could achieve within it.

Capturing and sharing this process, as Paul has done by including it in his book, will encourage others to experience the same thing. It will increase the influence of the NYOI's ambitious mission within the wider world.    

2. Create monumental memories

'The idea of a national youth orchestra for Iraq struck an enormously powerful chord in me and many others back in 2008. By unifying disparate groups of youngsters throughout Iraq and delivering music education where there was none, we had created the beginnings of a solution that we hoped could reverberate throughout the country. Moreover, the ambition to create a full symphony orchestra and perform in public shifted everyone's perceptions of what was possible in the name of Iraq.'

Making the idea of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq into a reality created memories that will shine bright within many people for many years. Also, as well as shifting perceptions of what was possible at the time, it will continue to be an inspiration for people as they live their lives and develop their own ideas and beliefs about things. It is an unforgettable monument to what is possible with ambition and determination and will ensure the power of the NYOI's vision and achievements travel forwards with people in time, continuing to influence their thoughts and deeds towards ambitious goals and undertakings. 
       
3. When things are at their most difficult work at being your most ambitious

'We sat. We talked. We brainstormed. In a couple of hours, we came up with a list of things to do back in Iraq to get money. We knew how futile this was, but America was such a pinnacle to our achievements so far, it was worth pulling together in one mammoth effort to break through.'

The above quotation refers to the difficulty Paul and the NYOI were experiencing in gaining funds from Iraqi institutions to support the Orchestra's tour of the USA. It would have been easy for Paul and his colleagues to 'cut their cloth according to their means' and focus on a less ambitious tour or activity. Instead, they committed to the American tour and drew up plans for trying to coax money out of Iraqi institutions. The effect of this decision did two things: 1. it challenged those involved with the NYOI to show determination and resilience and take responsibility for making things happen; 2. it sent a very strong message to supporters and potential supporters about the ambition of the NYOI and its determination to be successful in the face of difficulty and adversity. In the long run, this determined stance was likely to be healthier for the NYOI than one projecting a message that the orchestra was insecure about its future and timid in its decision making.

In short, confident and ambitious decision making on the part of the NYOI was likely to reverberate clearly and positively (and ultimately advantageously) with not only the NYOI's people but also its supporters.      

4. Identify and develop ambassadors of your ambition

'Everyone played their role as cultural diplomats brilliantly and won over thousands of hearts and minds, through the supporting youth orchestras, performances and international media. Determined to bring isolation to an end, the players forged international friendships and learnt to communicate not just with each other, but with the music world.' 

The above quotation shows how the players of the NYOI became strongly motivated ambassadors for the orchestra and its ambitious vision and goals. They were encouraged to form friendships with the people and musicians they met during the NYOI's tours and events and focus their communication out into the wider musical world. Hence the ambition of the NYOI could begin to resonate with and influence a significant number of people from other countries, societies and cultures.       

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