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August 2012 | Volume 6, Issue #2      

In This Issue
Jazz Quote of the Month
An Example of Incandescence in Jazz
A Word of Deep Gratitude to Doug Stephenson
Can Jazzthink Help You this Fall?
Learn COACHing Skills at Douglas College this Fal
Follow us on Twitter
Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club
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What drives you? What attitudes do you allow to determine your behaviours and, thereby, the consequences you generate in the teams of which you are a part?

 As I reflect on my own drivers, three come to my attention frequently - anxiety, anger, and aspiration.


I can get anxious very easily - especially over relationships, over money, and over impact. I get angry most often when I feel ignored or dismissed. I don't have a lot of control over these negative drivers showing up in my life. They just do, often blindsiding me at the most inopportune moments. When I give in to anxiety or anger, when I allow either of those attitudes to dominate my awareness for any period of time, I get drained and depressed. My strengths diminish and my weaknesses run amuck.


Anxiety and anger often show up for good reasons. A value is being violated or a need is not being met. They are signals to pay attention to what is going on in your soul, in that centre of your being where your mind, heart, and gut are collaborating to construct your attitudes and drive your behaviours.


That construction project is best managed when all three of those sources of awareness - intellect, emotion, and instinct - are focused on aspiration, on what you would prefer to see and make happen. When I can catch myself early in the anxiety or anger cycle, I am able to shift my focus more quickly to an aspiration cycle. I can take the important messages from my anxiety and anger, then choose to be driven by what I'd like to see happen, by my positive aspirations.


All three drivers are respected and given their appropriate attention, but aspiration becomes the dominant driver, the driver that transcends anxiety and anger.


That's when we perform and contribute at our best and open up the possibility of doing even better. That's when our incandescence, our brilliance, shines forth from the depths of our souls and contributes to the communities we aspire to create.


Jazz musicians have more than their share of anxieties and anger. It's a tough life financially for most of them and that can fill them with anxiety. They get angry at a whole range of things, just like the rest of us. But the good musicians know how to re-focus their attention onto their positive aspirations while performing with other musicians. They don't let their anxiety or anger interfere with their contribution to the performance. Indeed, they often use that performance as a way of moving through and beyond the power of anxiety or anger to control them.


It's a good model to consider. For most of us, it involves using our conversations as a way of refocusing our attention and moving through and beyond our anxiety and anger to construct positive aspirations. Then, building on the foundation of those aspirations, we can construct flourishing communities one conversation after another. 




Brian Fraser 2012




Jazz Quote of the Month


Marilynne Robinson is a Pulitzer Prize winning author. This summer, I've been reading her novels, starting with Gilead (2004). It's an extended letter from a Christian minister who is dying to his young son. The book, set in the mid-1950s in rural Iowa, is beautifully imagined and written. I highly recommend it.


There is a passage that captured so profoundly my aspirations in both coaching and ministry that I have to share it with you. The father has been writing about his enjoyment of listening to baseball on the static-filled radio. It brings to his mind the conversations and listening he has done as a pastor. He imagines those conversations as an abstract game:


...where is the strength, what is the strategy? As if you had no interest in it except in seeing how well the two sides bring each other along, how much they can require of each other, how the life that is the real subject of it all is manifest in it. By "life" I mean something like "energy" (as the scientists use the word) or "vitality," and also something very different. When people come to speak to me, whatever they say, I am struck by a kind of incandescence in them, the "I" whose predicate can be "love" or "fear" or "want," and whose object can be "someone" or "nothing" and it won't really matter, because the loveliness is just in that presence, shaped around "I" like a flame on a wick, emanating itself in grief and guilt and joy and whatever else. But quick, and avid, and resourceful. To see this aspect of life is a privilege of the ministry which is seldom mentioned. (44-45)


I have not yet run across a better description of the dynamics of coaching as well - being a sensitive 'pastor' to the incandescence in others.


Jazz arises from that incandescence deep within, brings it to the surface, and generates a vibe that vitalizes the whole community gathered to experience and enjoy it.


Your conversations - all of your conversations - have the potential to do the same.


Are you living into that potential one conversation after another?




An Example of Incandescence in Jazz...


Jodi Proznick (bass) and Mark Fewer (violin) do a swinging version of 'Autumn Leaves' on Global TV's morning show in Vancouver - a virtuoso conversation between two masters of their instruments. Note, however, that it does finish in mid-riff. A bit disappointing, but still a delightful performance.


What difference would it make in your team if you managed your voice like they manage their instruments? It's not easy, but it is possible. And it would generate rich value.


Click on the image to play the video


A Word of Deep Gratitude to Doug Stephenson


Doug Stephenson For the past 5 years, Doug Stephenson has been the regular bass player in the Jazzthink Trio. He's leaving us this month, moving to Nelson, BC, where his wife, Melody Diachun, will be directing the song-writing program at Selkirk College. It's a great opportunity to Mel and we wish them every blessing. We will miss Doug in the trio, but are filled with appreciation for all that he contributed.



Can Jazzthink Help You This Fall?

Jazzthink still has days available this fall to provoke SMARTer conversations within your team. Take a look at our What We Do page on the Jazzthink website, then contact Brian at fraser@jazzthink.com to schedule a conversation about the possibilities.




Learn COACHing Skills at Douglas College this Fall

Douglas College

Brian is teaching a course at Douglas College this fall (and twice more the following spring) on COACHing Skills for Managers/Leaders. Click here for information on the course and registration. Contact Brian directly at fraser@jazzthink.com for further details.




Follow us on Twitter


I've begun to post some of my discoveries and reflections on Twitter.  


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Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club in August 2012


My picks for this month are Armi Grano on August 4, Cory Weeds with Jim Rotondi on August 10-11, and Triology on August 19. 

The Cellar