Success: What Does It Look Like?

by Jack Lee,  National VPP, KKΨ |

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #0099FF;”]A[/dropcap]ward winning cartoonist, Jules Feiffer, once presented a sketch that captures well the spirit of success. The cartoon begins with a man encountering a guru sitting at a fork in the road:

“Which way is success?” the man asks. The stoic sage points down the path to his left. The man, thrilled at the prospect of easy success, rushes off in the appropriate direction. From the distance comes a loud SPLAT! The man reappears. He is bruised and tattered. Again he asks the guru, “Which way is success?” Once again the wise man says nothing. He simply points down the path to his left. The man quickly races down the path a second time. From the distance comes a much louder SPLAT! The man returns crawling on his hands and knees. He is b****y and beaten. He yells at the guru, “Twice I have asked you about the path to success. Both times I followed your directions and both times all I have gotten is splatted!” He screams at the top of his lungs, “No more pointing, talk to me!” The wise man calmly replies, “Success is that way. It is just a little past SPLAT.”

Have you ever felt like the man illustrated in the cartoon?  That you wanted success so badly that you were willing to do anything to attain it?  Chapters are constantly asking the national leadership variations of this question: What does a successful chapter look like?

Reflecting on this question, I think of it like this:  Every chapter can be successful – Every chapter can work towards the aims and goals of Kappa Kappa Psi – Every chapter can serve their band – Every chapter can have a strong sense of brotherhood – and every chapter is different, and success looks different for each one.

If every chapter would focus on the advancement, service, and support of their college and university band, quality fraternal education, leadership opportunities, and recognition of its members, I believe they would be successful.  Does this information sound familiar?  It should – it comes straight from the mission statement of Kappa Kappa Psi.

Advancing college and university bands should be engrained in all the work that we do.  Each brother shares one similar trait regardless of where they are from or when they were initiated as a member – we all are band members.  As we begin this Spring semester, I encourage each member and chapter to look at the goals that are set.  Do the goals align with advancing college bands?  Do the goals align with providing service and support to university bands?

Not sure if your goals align with supporting and advancing bands?  Ask your director and/or sponsor to assist.  While an active member with the Delta Sigma chapter at The University of Texas at Arlington, setting goals was taken seriously.  As I reflect now as alumnus of the chapter and university, I attribute my chapter’s ability to do great work for the bands to the director.  Dr. Douglas Stotter served as the chapter sponsor and director of bands for all but one year that I was a member of the chapter.  Like all university band directors, Dr. Stotter was about making the band program better and stronger.  By him taking an active part in setting goals with the chapter, we were able to work together to make things better.  It all started with an invitation to attend a meeting, and went from there.  Invite your director/sponsor to a meeting!

Service and fraternal education is an innate part of all of our experiences in Kappa Kappa Psi.  Throughout my time in this Fraternity, I have been fortunate enough to see what chapters across the country do to serve to their bands and educate their prospective members.  Once while visiting the Eta Alpha chapter at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania, I was able to partake in one of their rush events.  The Eta Alpha chapter did something that I had not seen at my home chapter of Delta Sigma.  This chapter hosted a service rush where their prospective members took part in serving the band.  I thought this was an excellent idea, and it gave great insight as to what we do on a regular basis – serve and support college and university bands.

At the end of November (our month of musicianship!), I appreciated hearing from chapters across the country about how they celebrated musicianship.  The Gamma Iota chapter at The University of New Mexico contacted me about the one event they held to help celebrate: mock juries.  The chapter allowed music majors to sign up for a mock jury prior to the end of the semester.  The chapter had graduate students throughout the music department provide feedback to the performers.  This not only provided an opportunity for students to perform prior to their jury, but it also gave the graduate students a leadership opportunity to help provide comments.

Does success look the same for every chapter?  I think it might – if we focus on what we need to.  Is every chapter going to have a marching band to serve?  No.  Are some chapters going to have 40 members?  Maybe, but that does not mean the chapters with 12 are unsuccessful.  Is every director and sponsor going to be able to attend meetings?  Probably not.

So what’s the point of this article in The Podium?  The point is to demonstrate that it doesn’t matter if you have a 500 piece band or a 50 piece band.  It doesn’t matter if you are providing service to a marching band, a pep band, or a concert band.  It doesn’t matter if you have never been listed as a chapter leadership finalist, or if you have been one for the last 20 years.

What does matter is that you, and your chapter, focus on what Kappa Kappa Psi holds dear:  our purposes, our mission, and our vision.

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