The Power of the Second Violin

The conductor of a great symphony orchestra was once asked which was the most difficult instrument to play.  “The second violin,” he answered.  “I can get plenty of first violinists, but to find someone who can play second violin with enthusiasm – that is a problem.  And if we have no second violin, we have no harmony.”

Isn’t the second violin the person we truly want?  The second violin isn’t about self.  The second violin is there to bring harmony to make the first violin sound better.  The second violin fills out and makes the orchestra sound strong and powerful but no one ever knows the second violinist.

I can ask who is the sixteenth president people will say, Abraham Lincoln.  If I ask who was Lincoln’s first vice president most people don’t know (Hannibal Hanlin, but I had to look it up).

A strong second violin understands how to serve, to help the team, to put self aside.  This is a rare commodity.

Many times when a person becomes the leader, serving, helping, and putting self aside can be difficult.

My wife has a reputation for building strong teams.  Some people think it is luck or she just gets the best people.  That’s not it.  My wife sees the potential in the those who work for her and draws it out of them.  She knows the success of her department isn’t based on her but on her team.  If the second violins are enthusiastic and passionate about their work the only result will be a well-oiled machine that gets great results.

She puts time and effort into developing these “second violins” and seeing their value and importance.  They become a blessing to her.  She tells me, “after all, I am a second violin making my supervisor look good.”

Do we see the importance and invest in second violins?

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