I feel indebted to Garr Reynolds of Presentation Zen for introducing me to Benjamin Zander, or at least the following video of him talking to music students:
Zander is the British-born conductor of the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra, clearly an incredible presence on stage, and apparently now a big name on the management training circuit. Here, he is talking about being a performing musician, but the parallels are not lost:
We are about contribution, that’s what our job is … everyone was clear you contributed passion to the people in this room. Did you do it better than the next violinist, or did he do better than a pianist? I don’t care, because in contribution, there is no better!
Spin that yourself any way you like, but Zander clearly isn’t a man interested in the substandard.