Inspiring others with mastery

March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day.  Most know it as a day to wear green and in various places it’s a public holiday. Some know it as a celebration if Irish culture with the playing of Irish folk music. And a few know it as the day Christianity arrived in Ireland. This may explain why many people go to church that day.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, it seems fitting to profile Sir James Galway, the virtuoso flute player from Belfast, Northern Ireland. His nickname is “The Man with the Golden Flute” and he became the first flute player to establish an international career as a soloist.

Sir James has inspired thousands of people to learn to play the flute and enjoy music. Just listening to him play is inspiring.

If you’re a fan of the Lord of the Rings, he provides a beautiful rendition of the sound track (Return of the King) here.

A living legend with the flute, Sir James has proven his mastery in music. He plays in concerts all over the world, and shares his wisdom and experience with young people through the International Masterclass Series he and his wife do each year near their home in Switzerland.

If that’s not enough, he continues to commission new works for the flute and publish articles, studies and books for the flute. And he also devotes his free time to supporting charitable organizations, using his talent playing the flute.

Sir James has learned the value of mastery.

As a differentiating value, Mastery means great skillfulness and knowledge of some subject or activity.

The reason so many people know and love the work of Sir James is because he freely shares his knowledge. He inspires others by giving away what he has mastered.

Introducing Lady Jeanne

While Sir James clearly has tremendous talent, an important contributor to his success over the past few decades comes from his wife and business partner – Lady Jeanne Galway.

An accomplished flutist in her own right, Lady Jeanne appears regularly as the premiere flute partner with Sir James. But as his business partner she also manages all of the business side.

In a 2009 interview on NPR radio, Lady Jeanne stated:

“It is interesting what my husband said about music helping you figure out new things, because today I manage his whole career, which means all the finances, contracts, all this business stuff. I never had a business mind. The hardest subject in school for me was always math. When I first met my husband, my bank account was always in disarray. I used to close bank accounts just to figure out the balance. But today I can work in different currencies and tax rates and negotiate contracts with concert halls and promoters all over the world. I really believe that my musical ability taught me to focus. If you aren’t focused, you can’t play what’s on the page, so it’s really wonderful discipline.”

In addition to demonstrating her mastery of playing music, Lady Jeanne learned to master the business of music.

Together, Sir James and Lady Jeanne make a masterful pair of musicians. To see and hear them play together, click here.

Looking at this fabulous couple, it’s clear there are 3 reasons they inspire others:

1)    They both demonstrate mastery in music, specifically with the flute.

2)    They both demonstrate mastery in sharing what they’ve learned.

3)    They demonstrate mastery of working together – as a couple.

On this last point, Lady Jeanne responded beautifully to a question about being married and in the same profession:

“It has a lot of benefits because we are a team anyway when we are at home, and so when playing music, we are even a better team.”

How inspiring!

So…. for this St. Patrick’s Day who will you inspire?


Who has demonstrated the value of mastery in your life?


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I write about differentiating values and their impact on leadership, marketing, and marriage - focused on couples in business together. Read more about Robert.