Three Words of Growth
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

When I was in my teens, if you had asked me why I went to school, my answer would have been one word: band. If you had asked my parents why I went to school, they also would have said band. Playing my trumpet gave me an identity. I played in my school’s concert band, brass ensemble, Dixieland band, and All City. I recently found a picture that my parents had of me playing Christmas carols with some friends on the street corner downtown back in 1970. As my kids got older, we even had a family brass quartet.

Well, now my grandkids are starting to play, and once again, my trumpet has come out, and I am working on getting myself back in shape so I can play with them. YouTube has been a great resource as I seek new techniques and learn as much as possible. I found a podcast called The Trumpet Gurus Hang, which interviews great horn players of today. In one recent podcast, a horn player recalled advice that he received from a master horn player who has since passed away. The advice contained three simple words: Imitate, Assimilate, and Innovate.

As soon as I heard those words, I flashed back to when I was a young horn player. I was too young to have a style of my own, so I imitated other horn players. I found horn players I admired and listened carefully to the various nuances in how they played. I was imitating their style and their giftedness. As I developed as a horn player, I began to sense my own giftedness and started assimilating my giftedness into their style as I played. Unfortunately, that was the point where I stopped growing as a trumpeter. If I continued to play, the next level would have been to innovate and create my own style based on everything I heard and learned.

These three words are still powerful words of growth. When I came across John Maxwell’s first book, I began imitating his leadership as I led people. John introduced me to Patrick Lencioni, and I worked on adding some of Patrick’s techniques to my leadership repertoire. As I discovered more of my giftedness, I assimilated more of myself into their teachings. My leadership was a blend of those I was imitating and me. At this point in my life, I am working to take my leadership to the next level as I begin to innovate and develop teachings that reveal my style of values-based, people-centric, servant leadership.

I have been given a great opportunity within our community. To stay imitating or even assimilating would be such a waste of your time. I need to step up and help you create teams that will help us change how people are led in Central New York and beyond.

How about you? What is your giftedness? Are you still imitating and assimilating? We need you to move into innovating. Our community needs to break the paradigms of the past so we can embrace the amazing future that is just around the corner. There is a great verse in scripture where Queen Esther was challenged with these words, “Who knoweth if whether thou are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” I believe each one of us has been granted gifts for such a time as this. Are you willing to help me create a better tomorrow by growing into the innovator you were made to be? Don’t be like I was, and put the horn away at the assimilation phase.