I had a front row seat last Friday at the leadership convention in Louisville, Kentucky, and listened live leadership guru Orrin Woodward talking about the Joshua Bell experience in the context of building the LIFE business through compensated communities.
Arriving home last night after a 20 hours driving, having fun, and CD’s listening, with some friends and teammates, I made some online research about Joshua Bell to better understand the ideas conveyed by Orrin Woodward, a New York Times best selling author who will be releasing a new book with professor Oliver DeMille called LeaderShift on April 16. Here is a segment of what I read from a google search:
For 45 minutes on the morning of January 12, 2007, concert violinist Joshua Bell stood incognito on a Washington, D.C. subway platform and performed classical music for passersby. Video and audio of the performance are available on the Washington Post website.
“No one knew it,” explained Washington Post reporter Gene Weingarten several months after the event, “but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made.” Weingarted came up with the experiment to see how ordinary people would react.
And how did they react? For the most part, not at all. More than a thousand people entered the Metro station as Bell worked his way through a set list of classical masterpieces, but only a few stopped to listen. Some dropped money in his open violin case (for a total of about $27), but most never even stopped to look, Weingarten wrote.
The text above, penned by an unidentifed author and circulated via blogs and email, poses a philosophical question: “If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?”
Which is fair to ask. The demands and distractions of our fast-paced workaday world can indeed stand in the way of appreciating truth and beauty and other contemplative delights when we encounter them. But it’s equally fair to point out that there’s an appropriate time and place for everything, including classical music. Was such an experiment really necessary to determine that a busy subway platform during rush hour might not be conducive to an appreciation of the sublime? Probably not, though it makes for an interesting story just the same.
Author Warren Bennis said ¨leadership is like beauty, you recognize it when you see it.