Dave: Last week I spent a wonderful time in the Maritime provinces of eastern Canada. The Celtic Colours Festival happens each year about this time and it brings the best of Celtic music together from all around the globe. Musicians from Cape Breton Island (Nova Scotia), the US, other parts of Canada, England, Scotland, Wales, and many other places came for a series of concerts that would wow and amaze those of us who had come to see and hear. But in the midst of all these amazing performers was an amazing sign of how these people were equipping and freeing the next generation of performers. If you were watching, you couldn't miss what they were up to. And the future of Celtic music and future leaders was happening right in front of our eyes. Most of us could learn a ton by paying attention to what they did.
Two examples will help us learn from these people.
The first was a concert we attended on Tuesday night called "Close to the Floor." This collection of musicians was centered in dance and world class performers played and danced in ways that made us look and listen with eyes and ears wide open with amazement. April Verch, the first woman to be Canadian Open Fiddle Champion and Canadian Grand Master Fiddler in the same year played with her band. Bruce Molsky, the world's best old time fiddler and a teacher at the Berklee School of Music played while National Champion dancer Nick Grassia showed why no one else can do what he does. But in the midst of this a 9 year old girl who is at the top of her local dance class performed with two top notch local muciand accompanying her and a bit later a 10 year old boy did the same. Both were excellent and on their way to perhaps be leaders in their field and up and coming stars a decade from now. The presence of the best was not a chance to merely be wowed by the best. It was also a chance to connect, mentor, encourage and showcase young people who were gifted and skilled but at a different place in their journey. One of the dance teams from Winnipeg, the Asham Dancers brought a 4th grader and a 7th grader with them and showcased them as a key part of their show. The same team had the world champion right in there mixing it up with these kids.
A second example took place late on Thursday night. Each night there were multiple concerts across Cape Breton Island and then people would gather at the Gaelic College for a festival that began each night at 11 PM. Local musicians would get things started as people came in, got their beers at the bar, and then found seats to watch and listen to music that would last past 3 in the morning. The night we went to that, the MC host played and then one of the performers from a close concert was up. Then a girl, probably about 15 years old, came out and played fiddle (and did a great job). Had she followed the people who were up next, she would have been overshadowed. But in the place and context of where she was the music was as good as most of us see when we see a really good show. She was followed by the unimaginable as performers too numerous to list, pulled off the impossible - one after another. But there she was, right in the flow fo greatness and being groomed for her turn to shine as a headliner some time down the road.
The lessons from this amazing showcase of talent for our organizations are simple and clear.
- No chance to showcase greatness should be taken without asking how we can connect young leaders to them in visible and life-giving ways.
- Greatness is cultivated intentionally. You can't wait to use that which has "arrived." You must help people cultivate their gifts and passions and pursue their chances to succeed.
- Most work is best done, not just by teaching, but with mentors and apprentices who not only teach but also coach, encourage, press, and cultivate those with whom they work and journey.
A final word. This way of working does not produce clones. You cancheck out the event, Celtic Colours: The Next Generation to see the amazing array of talent and work that goes into working this way. Every great performer on the stages could point to the people who had helped to put them there. But every one of them had shaped and reshaped the things they had received in ways their mentors could never have dreamed. Reproducing leaders is not about cloning. It is about cultivating gifts and passions and pursuing offering the best of these to do something significant.
Here are four things they did in Cape Breton that you can do too:
- Invest a lot of energy equipping and lifting up young people
- Find a way to showcase talented young people and leaders IN THE MIDST OF what you currently do
- Make sure people can contribute NOW
- Find ways to help people encounter greatness and interact with it
These things are happening in Celtic music as a matter of habit - it has happened this way for generations. The global village has only made this even bigger. They can happen in your organization, too. Who can you invest in? How can you help them show their stuff soon?
For more on this in your work, check out the ARE Booklet "19 (or More) Ideas for Being Reproductive" at the ARE Bookstore. Enter AREB for a discount! Or to contact us about this email Dave Daubert @ DDaubert@ARenewalEnterprise.com .