A story: The fabled concert violinist Niccolo Paganini was once performing before a full house surrounded by a full orchestra. His program featured a number of difficult pieces, one of which was a favorite of his: a violin concerto.
Soon after he plunged into the music, his rapt Italian audience hanging on every note, one of the strings on his violin snapped and hung down from his instrument where many members of the audience could see it.
Tapping into his creativity and skill, he improvised and played on three strings. To his surprise – and the conductor’s as well – a second string broke. Now there were two strings dangling. Once again, he began to improvise and play the pieceon the remaining two strings. Then, almost at the end of the amazing, magnificent concerto, a third string snapped. Now there were three strings dangling: He finished the piece on one string.
The audience sprang to its feet almost as one and applauded Paganini’s pluck and perseverance with thunderous admiration. No one ever thought to ask for an encore given the state of the master’s instrument. They expected to leave. But Paganini, ever the showman, raised his instrument high in the air and announced, “Paganini and one string,” and went on to play an encore with the full orchestra.
What an inspiring story! That night became a concert legend: Paganini managed to coax more music from one string than many violinists could bring forth from four. How was it possible? What made Paganini’s performance a triumph instead of a tragedy?
Yes, ability made a huge difference: His superb skill and experience saved the day.
But a second quality came to the fore: attitude. Instead of falling into despair and stopping his performance, Paganini saw his snapped strings as a challenge to his creativity – and his creativity came to his rescue. Instead of falling into despair, determination lifted him up.
“It’s your attitude not your aptitude that determines your altitude” – so Zig Ziglar, an inspiration speaker once said. Paganini proves his point, doesn’t he?
Now, we may not be a Paganini of the page – yet. But we bring the same attitude he did to our work: We can make a decision that whatever comes our way today, whatever life throws at us, we’ll get fascinated instead of frustrated, more determined instead of despairing, more focused instead of more fragmented.
Bravo, Niccolo! May your creativity embrace us today as we all write on!