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Last week, my daughter, Maggie, performed in the middle school band solo/ensemble competition. Having never experienced this type of event, I figured I’d be watching three young people perform pretty well, in spite of their extreme nervousness. That definitely happened. Little did I know that I’d also experience a lesson in leadership.

I expected the judge to listen, note his assessment on the form and move on to the next group of kids with knocking knees. Sorry, Mr. Judge. I misjudged you. What did you do instead? You fertilized these budding musicians with the right combination of feed, seed and weed!

Feed. Before the three students started playing, you connected faces to names and cracked a joke. Although they were too scared to laugh, they appreciated you reaching out to them as people. After they finished playing, you talked about all the things they did well, in quite a bit of detail. For the first time since they stepped in the room, not one of them looked like they were about to throw up.

Seed. Mr. Judge, you masterfully outlined their future brilliance as clarinetists. You mentioned some specific ways in which they would master parts of the music as they continued to grow. You made their future growth real and attainable and exciting.

Weed.¬†Finally, you mentioned some things they didn’t do well. But instead of letting them stew about those, you gave them a tip, had them try it, and voila! Those squeaks and timing problems began to fade like weeds after a dose of herbicide (organic, of course).

I should do so well in my everyday life as a leader. I am prone to weed, weed, weed and then throw in my suggestions in an effort to be helpful. Thanks, middle school band judge, for rising above and making a difference in these kids’ lives (and even in the spectators’). If you can do it, so can I!