Our professional work all takes place in dense and intertwined social, technological, economic, physical, kinesthetic, and embodied contexts. Given how much is always going on all at once, it’s amazing that we can think about thinking, or being, or doing at all.

I love watching opera masterclasses online, in part because they capture for me that rich totality of lived experience. They are also a wonderful record of what great teaching and real-time learning both look like.

Image: 2016 Master Class with Renée Fleming, Aspen Music Festival and School

I just completed a blog series that uses these videos to demonstrate some abstract-yet-practical concepts including:

  • Mastery—Where do we intervene in a system?
  • Principles—What’s most essential?
  • Methodology—Are we asking the right questions?
  • Process—Are we making the right work easier?
  • Tools—Do we know what we’re doing?
  • Results—What does success look like?

I’ll admit that opera can sometimes be super boring. I left three hours into a performance of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg once because my attention kept drifting and my eyes kept closing.

But work can be super boring, too. And frustrating and sometimes confusing. With the right push and guidance, we can see problems, patterns, and possibilities that otherwise escape detection. Our worlds get bigger and more interesting. A good coach can lead the way.

When the student is ready, Renée Fleming appears.


A methodology is a system of methods or a journey of inquiry. Before diving into execution playbooks and tools, be sure you have the right macro approach.

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