Recently, I purchased Coach Jim Tressel's new book, Life Promises for Success. As I read this little devotional book, one of the first devos is defining Success. He uses legendary Coach John Wooden's definition which I feel is thee best definition. Success is "peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming."
As some of you may know, a few weeks ago I auditioned for the United States Air Force Ceremonial Brass. The DC military band has always been a dream of mine since I would be serving country and making music. Monday (2/21) after Brass Studio Class I drove to Pittsburgh International and flew to Baltimore to be picked up by my friend and colleague with the King's Brass. As I was on the plane (thank you Southwest!), I could tell that it was going to be a good next few days simply for the lack of stress involved with my flight. When I was picked up, my friend drove me to his house where I napped for a good bit and then had dinner. After dinner, I was able to have a good warm-up and play through the excerpts and touch up on a few things.
The next morning, I woke up to an excellent breakfast. Even though my audition block was from 2:30-3:30, my friend had to drop me off at the base around 9:30 am since he had classes/meetings all day. Though to some this might be a negative thing, I found this to be a really positive time because I was able listen through the excerpts a number of times, read through my personal notes from listening to my practice recordings, and read some Scripture and specific verses. It was a time that I got to really relax and focus on the task at hand, and begin to really block out "outside" thoughts, and prepare myself for what was to come (Read Ephesians 3:17-20)
As the time drew nearer, I went to the Band Hangar, checked-in, and went to the big room. As I walked in, I saw other trombone players I had recognized from auditions or from just knowing who "so and so" was. But I did not let that distract me from what I was there for. I then got moved to a private warm-up room, and this was just an excellent time for me to play and open up. Leaving that room for the "performance" room, I felt great and confident and knowing the good Lord would be right beside me. I know where my weaknesses and strengths were going to be, and was prepared for what was to come.
As I entered the audition room, they listed four excerpts and sight-reading in the first round. They first asked for "Tuba Mirum" from Mozart's Requiem, which to be honest, was probably the best I have played it. To me, it sounded the way I wanted it. The second excerpt was from Saint-Saens' "Organ" Symphony. This excerpt, had very slight control issues in the soft dynamics; however, for me it has been a struggle to have the last two notes speak in tempo without fluff (A-flat to D-flat). In the audition, it happened...the D-flat spoke, and well...it made me happy. The next excerpt they asked for was the B Major section of Die Walkure, and again this excerpt sounded exactly the way I wanted it too! (I had spent many practice sessions on getting this excerpt just right...it was good to hear the results).
Then they asked for sight-reading which for me, is not an extreme issue. I did not recognize the excerpt/etude but I still powered through. After the audition was over, I walked out of the room very excited for how I did. I went in there doing what I wanted to do, and for the first time, had a feeling of knowing the decision would be left up to them not me.
As the other candidates finished, the coordinator came in to tell us with regret that no one from our block had advanced on to the next round. Though there was disappointment, there was more joy in knowing that I did my best (exactly what I wanted to do). This was the first time for me, in an audition, that I was able to play everything on the list they asked for. I saw this as a step forward, a "personal victory," for what came about that day.
This is where the definition of success comes in to play; having that "peace of mind" in knowing you gave your best. To some, this might be seen as a failure because I didn't win. For me, it was a victory because I was successful in doing my best and certainly had a peace of mind in knowing I gave it my best. And now, it gives me complete motivation to keep working harder and harder to take on that next step! I am very excited about what the future will hold for me....no matter how long it may take.