What It Means To Contribute

Contribution is something my mother has always been adamant about. Whenever my family goes to a neighborhood party, or a tailgating event with friends, my mom asks my dad what we’re bringing. She asks my dad this question and he’ll look at me briefly, knowing full-well we’re in for an expensive trip to the grocery store. He then returns the question to my mother and asks what we want to bring. Both my parents understand and follow the idea of contribution, and have demonstrated their understanding time and time again since I was a little tyke. At tailgates, neighborhood friends would stop my dad from grilling and hail him for his efforts. He wouldn’t ignore the praise, usually he’d turn his head, smile, make a joke, and turn his attention back to what he was doing. He still does this now. While he acknowledges the praise, he is not consumed by it, because he doesn’t grill for the attention. Dave grills because we’re guests at a neighbors house, and he understands that if we, as a family, contribute to the mess at our friends house, we should also contribute something to make the party better.

My mom and dad don’t believe in making a mess. My sister and I were taught by my parents to pick up after ourselves and to be responsible guests. We never once made a mess at our neighbors, but we still would contribute to the party with food. This is the concept that Plant and Zander were speaking about when they used the word contribution. You don’t need to receive something to give something. It isn’t about fame or glory, and it doesn’t need to be warranted.

Benjamin Zander was quoted in the article saying “we are about contribution. That’s what our job is. It’s not about impressing people. It’s not about getting the next job. It’s about contributing something”.

I think when he said he also implies via subtext that if people contribute successfully, then everything else will eventually fall into place. Everything could mean getting that next job, or it could mean impressing people, or it might not mean either, but through continual genuine contribution, you are almost guaranteed a return on your efforts.

In the context of my group project, I think we will find success using Zander’s “contribution” ideology. When our group presents, we can follow these ideals by equally sharing the speaking points. Also, we can avoid emphasizing the amount of contribution each group member has made. This way, the audience is not captivated by the contribution of a sole group member, or perplexed by the lack of contribution by another. In theory, if we a are truly focused on our contributions to this presentation, the audience will not even notice a difference, and focus on our presentation. To have a strong presentation, all we need to do is contribute each of our skills to the collaborative group effort. If we do this, the presentation will take care of its self.


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