The Spaulding Group often speaks about being passionate about performance measurement. Having passion for something is, we believe, a good thing.
Passion for Music
Before delving into the subject of passion for performance measurement, I thought I’d touch on passion in a different area: music.
Yesterday was Pentecost, and during our Church service we sang “Come Holy Ghost.” As often happens, as we were singing it I began to choke up: the music touches me.
I first became aware of the idea of a song touching someone emotionally more than 50 years ago, when my aunt told me that her brother, my Uncle Gordon, would cry when he heard “O Holy Night.” I didn’t understand why at the time, but have since. Today, there are a number of songs which cause me to choke up and even cry.
I have had the privilege of singing in a number of choirs, starting with my church choir growing up (St. Peters in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, PA) as well as my high school choir. My church choir was under the direction of John Fryer, a noted psychiatrist. He introduced me to several beautiful Bach pieces, as well ones by other composers, such as Randall Thomson’s “Alleluia.”
I also sang with the Temple University choir, which was a great experience; in addition to our regular programs, we performed several concerts each year with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra (at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music and New York City’s Lincoln Center). When I was stationed in Hawaii (with the U.S. Army), I even sang with a local community choir. I sang with our current church choir for about three years, but stopped several years ago because of travel schedule conflicts.
On various occasions I’ve thought about conducting a choir. This desire is inflamed whenever I listen to Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli. Ironically, it was introduced to me by a Jewish friend who told me it was the most beautiful music he had ever heard; I can’t disagree. If I were to organize a choir, I think one question I’d ask the singers is “what song or songs make you cry?” If they answer “none,” I’d be inclined not to have them join.
I think that singers should experience the music, not just sing it. I recall that shortly after I joined our current church’s choir, I inquired into us singing Thomson’s Alleluia. I recall that someone told me how many times the word “alleluia” is repeated in the piece. The song has only two words: alleluia and amen, which is sung only at the end. And while the person was correct that “alleluia” is repeated many times, why would someone count the number? Perhaps because he didn’t really enjoy the piece, and was dumbfounded by the repetition?
Perhaps I’m being unfair, but we can see how musicians often find passion in their performances, be they singers, pianists, or even drummers (think Buddy Rich).
There was an episode of the 1980s television program The Wonder Years where Kevin Arnold was taking piano lessons. He was to give a recital and would play Pacabel’s Canon in D. Well, there was another youngster performing before Kevin, who happened to play the exact same piece. But unlike Kevin, who often stumbled through it, this boy played it without a mistake. Kevin was so upset by this that he left without playing, never to return to his lessons. What I believe Kevin didn’t understand was that while this boy played it perfectly, he played with no emotion; in a word, he played it perfunctorily. Kevin, on the other hand, showed emotion for the piece, and I think that is what the teacher found compelling in his playing.
But enough about music, let’s turn to …
Passion for Performance Measurement
The motivational speaker Anthony Robbins often speaks of “living with passion.” I’ll confess that it took me a bit to get it, but I definitely do now. We’re also told to “find our passion.”
Because our firm has chosen to focus solely on performance and risk measurement, it’s probably understandable why we are passionate about the subject. We don’t expect everyone in the field to be passionate as we are, though we think that having passion for your chosen profession makes the experience even better.
This week (actually, tomorrow and Wednesday) will find us at the Westin Hotel in Philadelphia for our 14th annual Performance Measurement, Attribution and Risk (PMAR) conference. This is our biggest event of the year, and we put a great deal of passion into it.
Our goal is that it is an exceptional event for everyone who attends: our speakers, attendees, and sponsors. We want every aspect of the two days to be well received. While it’s a bit late perhaps to sign up for this week’s program (though you’re still invited to attend), we’ll repeat the event in London next month.
The ideas of passion for performance and passion for music come together with this year’s conferences, as the theme is Rock Stars of Performance Measurement!