Sitting in the terminal of the Bob Hope Burbank Airport last Thursday morning (really early in the morning) I was just awake enough to notice something going on at the gate next to mine. Apparently, a local high school choir was headed to New York. My keen internal audit senses tingled to the sense that such might be the case when I noticed the gate listed New York as the destination of the flight, a group of high schoolers with a few already harried looking chaperones standing around the gate, and the matching shirts the high schoolers were wearing that, upon closer inspection, included both the high school’s name and the word “choir”.
At one point, they broke out the congas (yes, I said congas) and began to sing. Did you catch the part in the previous paragraph where I mentioned it was early? I normally have great trouble identifying with such espirit de corps, particularly when it is exhibited by those with the youth and energy to remind me that I know longer have such youth and energy. At approximately 6:30 (that would be in the a.m.) it is generally even tougher. However, this particular time I smiled because it brought back some fond memories.
You see, I was an orchestra geek. (The first step is admitting you have a problem.) Yes, I was a member of the high school orchestra – first violin by my junior year. (My geekdom didn’t get any better, see Friday’s post where I mention that I play banjo.) And one of the things I remember with mixed embarrassment and pride are those instances where we came together (whether as an actual orchestra or in an impromptu performance) and performed for the sheer joy of being part of the group. One time there was an Organ Stop Pizza Parlor…never mind, let’s move on.
I played in orchestras through Community College and the one thing I vividly remember throughout my orchestral “career” was, no matter how much I enjoyed playing solo, there was nothing like the power of being a part of the entire orchestra – being a part of something greater. I continue to play fiddle in country and country-rock bands and, again, playing solo pales in comparison to those times when the entire band seems to work together as one and the playing of the sum is greater than the playing of all the parts. Have I said this before? Being a part of something greater.
Last week I got the opportunity to attend GAM. In fact, I even got the opportunity to speak. When you really stand back and look at the experience, it is incredibly powerful to be part of over 1,000 professionals – professionals who, I might add, are the top of our profession – coming together in one place to talk about audit: its theory, its practice, and its direction and future.
And hearing that high school choir in the early Burbank hours reminded me how being a part of a performing group can be somewhat akin to being in the profession of internal audit. No, we don’t perform/audit together. But we do have a shared experience that can be the next best thing. At GAM there was that same sense of belonging when the entire group was brought together; a sense that we are working together to make something important happen. Even when speaking (as close to “soloing” as most of us get), it was not like I was up there telling people something; it was like we were chatting together. Sure, I was the one doing the talking. But it still felt like we were all in this together. (Didn’t hurt that they laughed at most of my jokes.) And it felt good to be part of that group.
I admit, this has gotten a bit kum-ba-yah, but see if you don’t notice it the next time you’re at an IIA meeting or conference or seminar or any other such event. Sure, you are learning. But you are also feeling a kinship that grows with each meeting. And, while we might not spontaneously break into an audit in the airport, we can still feel that, together, we are part of something greater.