James Meena, 63, is general director and principal conductor for Opera Carolina.
One of the greatest challenges I faced as an arts administrator occurred in 1990 when I was both the director of the symphony and the opera in Toledo. During the devastating recession period then, unemployment in northwest Ohio was 14.5 percent.
I recall sitting in an opera board meeting where half of my board said we needed to close. Finances were falling apart. I’ll never forget this – two board members turned to me and emphatically said: “No, we’ll make this happen. We’ll pull the company up by its bootstraps.” And we did just that.
I learned huge life lessons then about determination and leadership. The first decision you have to make is that you are not going to fail.
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Don’t give up, don’t despair and don’t give in to the very human tendency to back away. Face challenges squarely. Be creative in attacking problems.
As a young person, I often thought that things just happened, or were matters of circumstance or coincidence.
I’ve learned that very little is a coincidence. Especially when it comes to success and achievement. Very little is simply a matter of luck. Hard work, determination, and talent usually win out. As told to Michael J. Solender
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