I once had a conversation with a band director (I’ll call him TA) who served on the same high school campus I did. We were discussing our love of music. In particular, we were talking about how some performances “move” us, and some just seem to be nice and well-played renditions.
TA commented that the element that sets magnificent performances apart is not the fact that the musicians play the notes well (since that is what musicians are supposed to do). The truly distinguishing element in those moving performances is not the notes themselves, but the “space between the notes” with which the performers impose their influence on the composition. In effect, a script (in this case, musical notes written on a score) becomes a work of art in the hands/minds/renditions of masterful artisans.
Seems to me that the same holds true in our work lives. We can simply go to work each day and follow the script, play the notes, teach the students, interact with the customers, go through the paces. For such we receive paychecks, nods, bonuses, and occasional affirmations.
OR, we can choose to take those scripts and embellish them with powerful adaptations like smiles, pleasantness, helpfulness, customer-focus, authentic presence, empathy, service-orientation, and the gift of our attention, turning our work into a daily work of art.
It’s the space between the notes that really makes the difference for both the performer (us) and the listener (our customers, our colleagues, our students). We get to choose.