To Improve Performance, Celebrate Discipline

There is something absolutely thrilling about watching a really good marching band, so imagine my delight in seeing eight drum and bugle corps from around the country perform at the Rotary Music Festival in Cedarburg, Wisconsin on Tuesday evening, July 3. What a perfect way to celebrate the 4th of July!

The performances were awe-inspiring. Formations took shape on the stadium field almost magically and I marveled at the way members got to their positions, sometimes taking tiny baby steps and sometimes moving in great strides. The fluidity and grace of the performances gave testimony to remarkable athleticism and discipline of movement. Every step was on purpose and timed to perfection. And then there was the music! Incredible.

Drummers are the heartbeat of the show. Their long white cuffs emphasize the motion of their forearms and I was mesmerized by the crispness and absolute precision of their exhibition. The sound of drums beating in unison is enough to stir anyone’s soul, from the rat-a-tat on rims to the deep rolling power that sounds like thunder over the plains. The transition from one sound to another evoked a range of emotion and I wasn’t the only one with an occasional tear in my eye.

Before the show started, I heard parents talk about the rigorous training their kids endure as members of the corps. The first year is the hardest. They hate the relentless practice, the insistence of coaches that movements be done one specific way, the pressure to perform, the lack of relaxation time. Most kids want to quit.

For those who stay, a transformation occurs. Deep and lasting friendships develop over long hours of grueling and sometimes mind-numbing practice; confidence and pride grows, too, until it seems like it bursts out of them with every step they take. Kids become adults.

I was inspired as I watched the result of their hard work, sacrifice, and discipline. Their performances made me want to do more and be better. That’s what happens. Great work inspires others.

It’s difficult to do great work because the rewards don’t come right away. Sometimes it takes years to see the positive results of conditioning and practice. Many give up long before. I guess that’s what separates those who truly aspire to greatness and those who want it but are unwilling or unable to invest in the discipline to attain it.

Performance by a drum corps, or any performing artist, is truly a celebration of discipline. It got me thinking of other instances in which discipline creates pride and happiness. I thought of chefs, miners, students, engineers, race car drivers, athletes, soldiers, and moms. To be proficient at any work requires learning, practice, and endurance. When people make up their minds to be the best, they accept the sacrifice and pain that often go with it.

How about you? Do you aspire to greatness? Do you want your work to inspire others? Will you embrace perseverance in your chosen vocation or avocation? If so, you can look forward in time to your own celebration of discipline.

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About Susan Marshall

founder susan marshall

Susan A. Marshall is author, speaker and founder, whose mission is to create a stronger, more confident future, one person or team at a time.  Through personal experience and hands-on work with executives from diverse industries at all levels, Susan has had the privilege of helping thousands of people do the difficult and exhilarating work of growth.