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Play What You Feel

How rediscovering artistic freedom changed my leadership.

I'm a perfectionist, but not a very good one.

I didn't know it until I signed up to play in a worship band. I'd been in bands before. I knew the drill—get the sheet music, take it home and practice until it was perfect. But this band leader was different. His bluegrass background meant he thought it was perfectly reasonable to hand a flute player a chord chart and say, "Just play what you feel."

For years in orchestra I'd been told, "Stop tapping your toes!" Feeling wasn't even mentioned.

So I took home those chord charts and carefully made notes of every run and trill so that my "improvisations" would be seamless. But little by little I found myself straying from the notes. The music started coming from a new place until one Sunday morning I found myself, gazing at the rafters and playing with all my heart. Frantically I searched for my place on the page, wondering how long I'd been floating away from the safety of the ...

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