Last weekend, I went to see a delightful production of The Music Man in Stratford. I loved it from beginning to end — the acting, the music, the costumes.
I’m no play critic, but I walked away from the theatre not only moved by the story, but also struck by several lessons around the powers of transformation and positivity.
For those who don’t know, briefly, The Music Man is about travelling con-man Harold Hill, who shows up in a midwest town posing as a band leader and organizer to convince the locals to start a band by buying uniforms and instruments from him.
His real plan is to flee the town as soon as he receives the money. But there’s a fly in the ointment: librarian Marian Paroo. Though she suspects Harold is a fraud, she says nothing because her withdrawn brother, Winthrop, is excited about the band. Moreover, as Harold develops feelings for Marian, he faces a real tough choice about his plans to skip town.
So where does positivity come into play? First, I was struck by how Marian was able to see the positive in the situation. She didn’t just focus on the fact that Harold wasn’t who he pretended to be. Rather, she cognitively reframed the situation, turning negative events into positive ones.
This reminds me of the concept of “you can be right or you can be happy.” Marian certainly would have been justified in making a scene out of the fact that Harold had no credentials to teach music. Instead, however, she looked at the bigger picture, and the positive effect Harold had, initially on her brother, then on the entire town, and eventually even on herself.
I was also struck by the “THINK system” that Harold used to cover up the fact that he couldn’t teach music. He told the boys to practice “thinking” that they could play their instruments and, by the end of the musical, they could.
This reminds me of a famous quote by Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” That’s another statement of the power of positive thinking – a concept that I constantly recommend to clients.
The play also offers a lesson on speaking in a way that you’ll be heard. Marian was able to express her views to Harold Hill in a way that had a positive impact on him, and helped to transform him into a more socially conscious person. She spoke her truth without being overly confrontational, and without “dumbing down” her views.
The Music Man may have been set in 1912, but it offers timeless lessons for us all!
Have you seen The Music Man? What were some of your takeaways?
I just want to add a short note here to let you know that I’ll be MIA for a while (though I will offer some guest blog posts). I’m working hard on something exciting that you’ll see in the next few weeks. So please stay tuned!