Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rungs of the ladder

Would you rather be in a group where you were the best player or worst? No, it's not a trick question, but let me put it in a better context.

Let's say there are two groups you could join. For argument's sake, let's say that both groups are filled with the kind of people you like, play the kind of taiko you like, etc. The only difference is in the talent level of the players in the groups.

In group 1, you would be the most talented player, with no chance of anyone surpassing your skills. You would have the lion's share of parts, you would possibly be asked to create and/or lead drills, and you would have a lot of input into creative decisions during practice. In group 2, you would be the least talented player, with no chance of ever surpassing anyone's skills. You would get a fair share of parts but never featured, you would only be a participant in drills, and you would only have a small share into creative decisions during practice.

Neither situation is ideal, I realize. In the first, you'd never be challenged to grow and could easily develop an inflated sense of self. In the latter, no matter what you did you'd never feel like you were "coming into your own" and could easily feel worthless.

In a way this is a question about ego. I know the easy answer is to be in group 2, where you can say there's people to constantly learn from and you would have to continue to push yourself to remain relevant. But let's not villainize those who pick group 1! It's really easy to say that people who want that position in a group are ego-driven. The "best" player in a group would have to work pretty hard in order to better themselves without someone else in the group to follow. They'd also have to put a lot of thought into how their actions rippled through the rest of the group.

It's easy to say that the person in group 1 would tend to be lazy, but that argument could be applied to the person in group 2. Either role can be lazy, but it can also be for someone hungry to learn and get better, as well.

Being at "the top" is a goal for some, but shouldn't be looked at as inherently a bad thing as long as ego is matched by intention and responsibility. Conversely, being on "the bottom" isn't just a place for slackers, because there's a lot of opportunity to learn from people more skilled than they.

Where you are in a group is often not so much up to you, but knowing why you want to be in a certain role can prove pretty insightful.


  1. Hmm...interesting concept for discussion (as always)...Choosing Group 1 could be seen in a totally different light...being "at the top" can be more about being in a position to help others grow, being an example and pioneering new leadership models etc rather than just an ego trip. Being in Group 2 instantly looks easier, but if the conditions were that you would always be the underdog and never have creative input, hopes would dwindle eventually and fulfillment would become hard to achieve and ultimately, self-expression becomes more difficult...tricky decision, but good to think about!

  2. I've recently realized that there's an unhealthy dynamic in a group where only one or two people are responsible for chooding drills and practice routines for everyone; most members get lazy about recognizing what they should try to improve, and the leaders get burnout as well as an inflated sense of their own wisdom.