Monday, November 12, 2012

Guest Blog Post - Jayson Gerth - You Are What You Read

This week's blog post is by award winning South East Polk Director of Bands, Jayson Gerth. 

You Are What You Read

by Jayson Gerth

During a walk through my neighborhood in the early spring of 2010, I was plugged into my iPod and listening to a podcast of a recent episode of “The Dave Ramsey Show.” Dave Ramsey, the host of this financial advice radio broadcast, had as a special guest author and motivational speaker Tim Sanders. I had never heard of Sanders before, but the things he spoke about on that show changed the course of my personal and professional growth to this day.

Mr. Sanders had just written a new book: Today We Are Rich. He wrote about the life lessons learned over the course of his lifetime through the example of his grandmother. As soon as I got home from that walk, I pulled out a notebook and pen and listened to the entire interview again. This time, I wrote furiously, dissecting and outlining what Sanders was saying. The ideas he espoused were simple enough, but at the same time profound. I could not recall a time that I was as moved by someone speaking so enthusiastically and passionately about self improvement. I was inspired, and I purchased a copy of his book that night.

Now, please understand, this post is not a book report, but the story of my awakening to ideas and writings of deep thinkers, master teachers, motivational minds, and business leaders. The journey has been a rewarding one thus far, and although it is a path I'm glad I am now taking, it is one that I wish I had begun a long time ago.

I had browsed books on leadership before; I own books written by well-regarded music education thinkers and motivators like Tim Lautzenheiser, Ken Raessler and Peter Boonshaft, and I had attended band leadership seminars with my students. However, up until that point, nothing really stuck.

I suppose we all have a moment in our lives when we decide that we don't know it all – that there might be thinkers and luminaries whose ideas deserve our attention – and that we might benefit from their inspiration. Perhaps this is your moment.

One of the first principles that Tim Sanders writes about in his book Today We Are Rich is that we are what we read. Sanders encourages you to ask yourself, “what is the quality of information coming into my head on a daily basis?” News reports, political propaganda, internet grazing, and gossip about Hollywood celebrities bombard us continually. None of it will make us think deeply about ourselves or help us become better at what we do or aspire to do. In other words, so much of it is “junk food reading.”

Sanders points out that, for a society that is so concerned about the health benefits of what we put in our mouths, there is a shocking lack of general concern about what we put in our heads everyday!

Sometimes musicians and teachers get wrapped up in how much time we don'thave for our own personal growth in the profession. Too often we get stuck in the business of being busy and lose sight of our own need, as professionals, to continue to feed our mind good things – the things that will make us better teachers, musicians and people.

Following the example of Sanders' grandmother, I found that using time at the beginning of the day (getting up early if need be) to read, make some notes, and reflect has been incredibly beneficial for me. Taking 30-45 minutes while the house is quiet and the sun is not quite up is the best time to feed my mind. Often, ideas that I've read about in the morning stick with me during the day and set the tone for my approach to teaching, leading, or simply interacting with others. Further, reading great stuff early in the day makes me aware of the junk that continually wants my attention later in the day.

When done consistently, I have noticed that I go to bed excited about the prospect of waking up and having that quiet reading time (and I am NOT a morning person – just ask my wife!) I encourage you to give it a try! Simply find reading material that will either help you to be better at what you do or inform your worldview. Then set a time, perhaps early in the morning to read and digest it.

In the area of human relations, it's hard to beat books by Dale Carnegie, Claude Bristol, John Maxwell, Napoleon Hill, Wayne Dyer or the Arbinger Institute (theirLeadership and Self Deception and The Anatomy of Peace are must reads!). On the subject of music and music leadership, creativity, and the arts, great books have been written by the authors I have mentioned above as well as Sir Ken Robinson (The Element, Out of Our Minds) and Benjamin Zander (The Art of Possibility).

Making the time to feed your mind good things every day is an investment in you. I have become a better teacher, father and husband by reading, digesting and applying the ideas of great thinkers. Concern yourself with what you put in your head, and you will quickly notice a wonderful, positive transformation in your life.

No comments:

Post a Comment