Teens I Admire #2

This post is #2 in a series. If you didn’t already, you might want to start with:

Teens I Admire #1: Students who thrive because of  their parents and students who thrive in spite of their parents.


Teens I Admire #2: I admire students who have a healthy balance of humility, confidence, proficiency and attitude as needed.

Three family examples, including one of ME.

Our younger son, David, had been on a YMCA swim team for years when, at a hotel pool on a family vacation, this arrogant little brat challenged him to a race. David tried ignoring him, but that became impossible. “Ok. GO!” The challenger splashed off. By the time the loud kid got to the other end, David had gone there and lapped him back to the start. The show-off wanabe kid left flustered. David was humble, quietly confident and extremely proficient. By demonstrating excellence he effectively sized down an arrogant ego.

David’s brother, John, shared some advice from his college trumpet professor that went something like:

“Humility is a good quality. Its okay to be humble…..until you put that trumpet in your hands and walk out on that stage to perform, and then you take on the character of one mean son of a [band parent].”  -Professor Charles Decker

John was always humble yet confident of his abilities, very proficient….but had to work on that performer’s attitude. He had it, just hesitant to show it. A complaint from his HNHS Band days was that when he would warm up, some would accuse him of “showing off” even though the complainers were coming from a perspective of jealous mediocrity, unable to duplicate what he was doing.

As for me, I have always gotten extremely nervous when I play solo. It seems to matter little how prepared I am because I always prepare. I live by a line I periodically use in band class,

“If the notes are on the paper, it is your job to play ALL of them.”
“If you’re going to play it, you might as well play it right.”
“Like the ice skater who misses the quad,
missing notes in public can hurt.”

‘Back in the day’, I was a decent clarinetist. To make my point, I need to step out of character and even go against the point of this article to tell you I was ranked #1 high school clarinetist in Kentucky, was 1st chair in the U.S. Collegiate Wind Band (members from 25 states) that travelled Europe & U.S.S.R., 1st chair at UK, winner of their concerto competition….. and other stuff like that. So why did I get so nervous? When lamenting to my college prof, HIS advice went something like this….

“You get nervous because you’re a perfectionist and afraid you’re going to miss a note causing people to think less of you. But consider this; How many of those sitting in your audience can play the level of music YOU can at the level you can play it?” -Professor Phillip Miller

I was humble and proficient, confident of my ability but terrified of mistakes. Prof. Miller eventually taught me how to control the audience, which is why I sometimes say to the band prior to performance,

“Make them clap.”
“Make them stand up.”

I have always been troubled by scripturally correct sermons praising meekness and humility while condeming pride when all my life I had been taught to perform with pride and be proud of good performance. As a result of personal study combined with the wise counsel of several, I have personally concluded that the prideful condemnations are of “haughtiness” (arrogance), or of taking personal credit rather than recognizing from where the talents and abilities come.

My personal struggle with how to be humble while being proud of a job well done and playing with high confidence and proficiency without violating scriptural parameters….has been a long battle, resulting in my “Gardner-ism” below.

You should seldom have to tell someone you are good.
BE good. DO good. Do good WELL…
and if you ARE good,

others will tell YOU and

You don’t need to brag on yourself. Braggers are generally lazy, weak, and mediocre. Strive for and demonstrate excellence and allow others to recognize and respect you for it. It is much better to have someone ELSE say you are good than to say it yourself. Do the work quietly and confidently demonstrate your increasing proficiency, acknowledging the source of your abilities, and the recognition will come. I admire people like that.


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