Once upon a time, when I was a wee tyke, I asked my father what he did all day at work, as I sometimes did. On that particular day, he said, "Oh, I sit in meetings a lot."
"What do you do in meetings?" I asked.
"Well," he said, "I make suggestions, and nobody really thinks they're that great. Then somebody else makes the same suggestion an hour later, and I say, 'That's a fabulous idea! We should definitely do that!' and then it gets done."
The prioritization of getting things done over ego made quite an impression on my young mind, as it was already obvious that many people out in the world didn't work that way.
Cut to yesterday. The five graduate choral assistants are all milling around, trying to figure out the best way to have the Vocal Institute choir stand in the Princeton University Chapel. Someone suggested having the guys across the back, and the girls down the pews at the sides, so that the guys' sound would head straight out into the chapel (there are fewer of them.)
"I don't think that's a good idea," I said. "This is a really echoing space, and people have trouble hearing, and my experience standing in the back of the chapel has been that it makes one feel distanced and insecure. They're going to be at the farthest spot from the conductor there. Why don't we put them in the front two rows of pews up at the front, close to the conductor?"
The other four guys didn't seem to think that was such a great idea, and the guys ended up in the back.
Halfway through the rehearsal, one of the conductors moved the men to the two front rows of pews up at the front, close to the conductor.
I went up after the rehearsal, and she was saying to one of the other assistants, "That was a great idea to move the guys up to the front. Whose idea was that?"
The assistant said, "Oh, that was BH's idea."
!!! Maybe he'd been the one to suggest it mid-rehearsal when it was clear the guys were feeling distanced and insecure, but it hadn't been his idea!
I didn't say anything (except a brief look of surprise at the assistant) but inside I was instantly outraged.
I still have a ways to go to reach my father's more mature priorities, I guess.