Let's get marching

Commentary photo.

Lt. Col. Kevin Amsden, 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron commander. (Courtesy photo)


There’s a common expression in leadership discussions, “everyone should be reading from the same sheet of music.”  Conversely, if someone isn’t doing this, we say they’re “marching to the beat of their own drum.”  Being from a family of musicians, I appreciate these musical analogies as they relate to leadership. 

Now, as we head into another school year, with marching bands across Colorado prepping for a new season of competition, I’d like to use their efforts to expound on these analogies and how they apply to us at the 50th Space Wing.

A marching band is judged on three areas: music performance, visual performance and overall general effect.  In preparing for a competition, each member puts in countless hours of practice, learning the music and memorizing every step they will make.  While each performer will ultimately know their part like the back of their hand, it is often only the director who can see the overall vision.  As such, the band will spend hundreds of hours ironing out every aspect of the performance with excruciating detail as they strive for perfection. 

Success only comes if the director has a clear vision, each member knows their role and everyone executes their part to the best of their ability. 

Last fall, the Liberty High School marching band demonstrated these principles perfectly, and made history in the process. 

I was blessed to have two kids marching with Liberty, and following their final performance at the 2016 Colorado State Marching Band Championship; they said the band felt they had achieved a near-perfect performance, and the judges agreed. 

Liberty earned the highest score in Colorado state history and won their first state championship. Possibly even more amazing, was the fact that they outscored the long-running state champion Air Academy, by a mere 0.05 points. 

Why is that significant? 

With a band of roughly 130 musicians and a show lasting about eight minutes, there were thousands of opportunities for a mess-up.  A missed turn, a bad note, a wrong step – any one of which could have cost the band a fraction of a point, resulting in them missing out on the championship.  However, Liberty had a clear vision, well understood roles and most importantly, everyone did their job perfectly – thus, they prevailed.

Back at Schriever, there’s not a lot of marching going on.  However, we do have a new Wing Commander – our director, as it were.  She will provide her vision for how we should be performing at our wing. 

The group/squadron commanders will help us understand our collective roles in supporting that vision.  However, it is up to us individually to execute our part, as perfectly as we can, if we want to succeed.  It will be imperative that we are all “reading from the same sheet of music” and “marching to the beat of the same drum” to achieve our goals and fulfil our potential as a wing. 

With that said, let the music play, and let’s get marching.