Cellos and Thoroughbreds

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I grew up playing music. Since I was eight years old, I have been playing cello in ensembles of all sorts, 
shapes and sizes—from chamber groups like trios and quartets playing in small venues, to 100-member symphony orchestras and rock bands on stages in large auditoriums. I have played in dozens of
cities and a handful of countries.

Along the way I noticed something odd. With some groups, rehearsals seemed long, boring, and physically exhausting. Meanwhile others seemed to fly by with ease—the kind where you’re literally surprised that two hours have gone by and you find yourself asking, "Where did the time go?" And instead of being exhausted, I'd leave feeling refreshed or even energized. I found with some groups, I physically could play longer, harder, and more difficult music, but with others, every note required my full concentration.

It was something I thought about a lot, and it had me stumped. So, I eventually asked one of my conductors about it. His reaction was, “Of course this happens.”

To paraphrase his answer, he said, “The ones where you leave feeling exhausted and bored aren't as good. The ones you leave feeling energetic and refreshed are simply much better players.”

Thinking this was perhaps too simple an answer, I evaluated my mood, physical exhaustion, and overall excitement to play with various ensembles I was currently engaged with. From high school bands to a premier orchestra and so on.

In the ensembles where I was exhausted, I noticed that I was constantly making minor adjustments to my left hand (the one that dictates my intonation and note selection) and my right hand (bow speed and string selection) to both stay in tune with the ensemble (pitch) and to stay in time with the ensemble (speed/cadence/etc.). However, when I was playing with better ensembles, I wasn’t thinking about these things; the music just happened, my fingers fell to where I had practiced them to be, and staying in sync with the group was . . . well, easy.

He was right. And I realized something else.

Playing with highly skilled performers meant I had to work less at playing, and the musical output was far superior.

At Ramsey Solutions, there’s a similar phenomenon happening on our product squads. When highly talented and motivated team members are working on a common goal, it makes for a product that is great and so much more enjoyable to build. It is quite literally easier to make better products!

As a relatively new hire at Ramsey, it amazes me how easy it is to get work done here. Time feels like it’s flying, and the pride that comes with building awesome experiences is extremely rewarding.

Dave Ramsey calls it running with thoroughbreds. I might call it playing with pros. Either way, working with talented and motivated team members makes working feel a lot less like work and more like receiving a standing ovation.