Articles: Coaching

Drawing the owl

Some job descriptions ask for many years of experience in a particular field on the assumption that understanding that industry is very difficult for a newcomer. Often this belief is false. Advanced skills like heart surgery or singing German lieder take a long time to nurture. Ditto virtuoso creativity. But raw understanding of how an industry or field works, or how a particular company works, can come together fast, particularly if one makes a point of finding…

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It’s (partially) complicated

In my professional work, I think a lot about the differences between simple and complex systems. As I wrote in my earlier article “It’s (not) complicated”: “We all understand simple mechanical systems like pulleys. Complex systems, like rainforests, however, work differently. They exhibit unique characteristics, including modularity, homeostasis, self-organization, resilience, emergence, non-linearity, inter-dependence with other complex systems, and collapse.”   Some systems actually are complicated, though, or at least partially complicated—more like a Rube Goldberg machine than…

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Results

Note: This article is the concluding post in a six-part series about mastery. “On the EMI label, there is a classic compilation titled Les Introuvables du chant Verdien, which is almost guaranteed to transform even the huskiest young fan into a tiresome old opera queen who complains that no one can sing Verdi anymore.” – Alex Ross, Listen to This   Leontyne Price is a treasure in the world of opera and the world in general. She…

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Tools

Note: This article is part five in an ongoing series about mastery. Renée Fleming is one of the most famous living opera stars who currently performs. Some of her master classes recently gurgled to the top of my YouTube home page, and they are a treat to watch.     Fleming is gracious and effective in this video, and the student is excellent. But something that struck me about Fleming’s approach is how often she focuses on…

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Process

Note: This article is part four in an ongoing series about mastery. I have a friend who loves Leonard Bernstein’s Candide… and we’re still friends! Okay, so Candide is magnificent in its way, but I’ve been slow—very slow—to warm up to it. The show’s music is as intricate and fresh as Bernstein’s earlier musical West Side Story. But without Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics and Jerome Robbins’ choreography—and shackled to Voltaire’s relentlessly episodic plot—the play often never fully takes…

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