Fight or Flight – And the piano sings


Royally forked…

Today’s post is a bit different. It’s about something that we feel needs to be shared, and who knows, maybe it will give you courage and strength for one of those days when it all seems too trying.

Fight or flight, as defined on wikipedia, is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack or threat to survival.
What wasn’t explained to us when young, was that embarrassment also generates these types of reactions to which we would also add petrification as a third response, followed by an attempt to flop down and play dead.

It was during lunch, juggling ingredients over a home style swiss raclette , that the subject came up over an unbelievable and miraculous story, an article by Dr. Carla Rebelo published on the Expresso newspaper named “Liderança Antichoque” (Shockproof Leadership). A great insight to spotting the two heroes of this situation.

Back in 1999, the Portuguese pianist Maria João Pires was scheduled to play a Mozart Piano Concerto in one of the most demanding venues in Amsterdam.
She had studied the piece intently only to discover it was the wrong one! As soon as the orchestra started playing, panic stricken, she realized she was doomed.
Discreetly she informs the Maestro about this. There’s no way she’s going to be able to play without the music sheet, nor without the necessary preparation. Absolute doom and despair are present, and you can see the panic and pain in her expression, contrasting with the confident, relaxed reaction of Maestro Riccardo Chailly.

Here is a round-up of the dialogue from the video:
Ms.Pires: It’s at home (the music sheet for the concerto)
Maestro Chailly: You played it last season.
Maestro Chailly: I’m sure you can do it. You know it so well!

His response and encouraging words showing just how much he trusts her and her skills are what saves her. Midst panic, Ms. Pires regains control and begins playing the concerto she had not rehearsed for but was able to recall from memory since she had played it the previous season. This change is so inspiring, it’s pure magic. From doom a few seconds earlier to concentration and action enough to masterfully play a Mozart’s concert from memory.


I need to calm down.


Ok, let’s do this!

This truly encouraged and impelled us to cast aside fears and the feelings of incapability without at least trying and we believe that everyone can relate to the inner struggle that involved the situation. We should also aspire to have the presence of mind from “shockproof leadership” that the Maestro provides, understanding that Ms. Pires needed strength and trust to overcome the moment as she already had the amazing skills on her own.
Had both of them chose flight instead of fight, this concerto would have come to an awkward halt, shuffling and fidgeting and it would be remembered not for the best of reasons, when instead it becomes proof to a beautiful and powerful rise from expected failure.

Feel free to check the video and see for yourself the range of emotions that Ms. Pires goes through as she talks herself into the mindset of fighting. If you find someone able to know and trust your skills while being able to give you a wink when you stumble on your path, someone that reminds you what you’re made of despite that slip, well you’ve got yourself an A level leadership example like Maestro Chailly.
We hope that you feel motivated, like us, and take strength from this, to be able to breathe deeply when faced by a complicated situation and find the control needed to act within your capabilities and find the safe ground to do your best.

And make that piano sing.

★See you next week and stay inspired★


2 thoughts on “Fight or Flight – And the piano sings

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