How You Know You've Arrived

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Sometimes younger TDs will ask me how we know when we’re doing a good job. It’s a legitimate question. As my friend Dennis Choy says, for us, excellent is normal. A weekend when everything goes right, and no one notices we’re there is a weekend when we did our job. So if that’s normal, how do we know we’re doing a good job?

Well, certainly one could say that if we’re having more weekends when everything goes well than we are weekends that don’t, we’re doing a good job. Or perhaps if we don’t get comment cards that it’s too loud. Or maybe if the pastor liked the lights or the sound. Those are not bad metrics; but let me suggest another one.

You’re doing a good job if your team can pull off a major event when you’re not there.

I had this experience a few weeks ago. In the days after NAMM, I came down with some type of contagion. I was completely laid out for about 6 days. Unfortunately, this coincided with a night of worship that we had on the books. I was scheduled to mix FOH, while my ATD Jon was to run ProPresenter. Lights and video were to be handled by volunteers.

And here I was, sacked out on the couch, unable to move. Once it became clear I wasn’t going to be able to be there, we started putting out calls. One of our former Pro operators (who also happens to be my daughter) stepped up to run Pro so Jon could mix. Our communications guy offered to help set the stage.

When the event started, the team absolutely rocked it. It wasn’t long after it ended that reports started coming in that it was incredible. It was then that I realized I was doing a good job. When I started receiving emails saying, “We missed you, but your team did great!” I knew. I no longer have to be there for things to go very well.

Now, Jon did tell me it was a lot of work and a bit stressful without me there, and he had a few questions for me about the console. But the fact that they ran the whole event without any of my direction or participation is a great indication that all the work we’ve done building reliable and easy to use systems, training teams and developing our culture is paying off. 

I hated to miss the evening, and I missed mixing it; but I’m glad I did.

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