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Conor presents details of the Universal Healthcare Act in Economics. What is the correlation between hard work, being good at something and getting picked? . . . . . Ian puts finishing touches on a skiff he started building in September. Greg and Blake review plans. Jack works the metal lathe. Timmy tries an alternative path. Pick me!

Pick Yourself

On March 10, the Admission Office sent offers of admission to almost 200 remarkable young men and women. We made our choices known; now, each of those kids has a choice to make. This Chuck's Corner, written last year, seems appropriate to review at this time!

On the evening of January 8, 2007, violin virtuoso Joshua Bell strode onto the stage of Boston Symphony Hall to a standing ovation, and performed Max Bruch's Violin Concerto in G Minor.

Bell Joshua Perf shot_PC Chris Lee

Tall, slender, handsome, with an early-Beatles mop of hair, shirttails untucked, Bell is a young "rockstar" to classical music aficionados. He finished to another standing ovation, and was later mobbed by autograph seekers at the stage door. 


hree days later, at the peak of morning rush hour, Bell emerged from the metro at Washington D.C.'s L'enfant Plaza Station wearing jeans and a T-shirt, positioned himself at the top of an escalator next to a trash bin, opened up his violin case, removed a $3,500,000 violin handcrafted by Antonio Stradivari in 1713, threw a few dollars into the case at his feet, and played for 43 minutes, starting with  Bach's Chaconne from the Partida No. 2 in D Minor. As is his style, he threw himself into the piece with passion and dramatic upper-body movement. 



f the Chaconne, Bell says, "It's not just one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, but one of the greatest achievements  of any man in history." Over the 43 minutes that Joshua Bell played at the entrance of a subway station next to a lottery kiosk that morning, 1,097 commuters hurried by. Of them, 27 tossed money in his case and 7 stopped to listen. When he packed up his Stradivarius, he counted $32 and change.


ehavioral guru Seth Godin writes about our desire to get "picked:" to be recognized for our work (playing in a subway,) to be elected a leader or captain, to be chosen to speak at graduation, to gain admission to your first choice, to land a good job. But getting picked is hard, and the correlation between being good and getting picked is inexact. 


etting picked when we want to be picked is not necessarily in our control. Godin urges us to consider alternate paths to alternate goals than those controlled by the picking system. "Pick yourself," he urges, "by becoming remarkable at something different, for a different audience, in a new and different way."


"The problem," he notes, "is that it's frightening to pick yourself. It's far easier to put your future in someone else's hands than to slog your way forward, owning the results as you go."

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  • Dave Price
    Thanks for reprinting my favorite entry from this blog... words to live by: Pick Yourself!
  • Joan Saunders
    I love this re-post of sorts. The story, the goals, the dreams, all speak to what is our core-as people, as teenagers, as Proctor. Thank you Chuck.
  • Alan Hanscom
    As you've proven 1,263 times before, great insight, Chuck. You've been picked.
  • Meg McManus
    Magnificent and smart!
  • Terry Stoecker
    This speaks to the heart of the artist who often spends so much of the time creating and then waiting. Waiting to be recognized, waiting to sell a piece, waiting for the call after an audition,waiting for feedback that then determines the next part of the artistic journey. I remain so thankful that early in my career, Tim McDonough, brilliant Boston area actor, taught me the value in developing my craft and art as "the self generating artist" who creates the reality she dreams in life and in art. Thank you, Chuck, again, for always being an inspiration to live up to one's own creative vision. Blessings, Terry
  • Dick bicknell
    Great content.... Wonderful use & selection of photos!
  • Katrin Tobin
    Brilliant indeed! Thank you for this wonderful perspective.
  • Kev Mackin
    Best blogpost yet. Brilliant.
  • Jolie Hughes
    Thank you and amen.
Located in  Andover, NH,  Proctor Academy is a private coeducational day and boarding school for grades 912. Students benefit from a rigorous academic program, experiential off-campus programs, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.
204 Main Street  .  PO Box 500  .  Andover, NH 03216
p. (603) 735-6000   f. (603) 735-6300