Cope Your Way to a Stress-free Life

By Randy Gilmore, Marching Show Concepts, Inc.

Cope Your Way to a Stress-free Life

By Randy Gilmore, Marching Show Concepts, Inc.

First published in Fanfare, Volume 21, Issue 3, Spring/Summer 2007. Reprinted by permission.

This time of year finds many of us weighed down and overwhelmed with all the responsibilities and activities necessary for preparation and implementation of our goals. In 1916, Henry Rayol, a French industrialist, determined the basic skill requirements needed to better manage ourselves and our endeavors. These four basic skills form the acronym C.O.P.E. and actually represent the ingredients involved in coping with life and work situations. Based on the understanding that we all don’t excel at everything, Rayol encourages us to find our strengths within these coping skills and determine where we need to focus our efforts. After areas of strength are identified and reinforced, we can begin to delegate or find help for the less developed areas that tend to diminish effectiveness.

“Coordination” is the ability to select and use the resources available to successfully accomplish projects and tasks. This may include scheduling of people, time and/or equipment. Even though several activities might be completed by ourselves, some activities or portions of a project may have to be delegated to others. This initial determination helps set the stage for all that follows.

At one time or another, almost everyone has said, “I’ve just got to get better organized!” Indeed, there is always room for improvement, but when work is planned, priorities thoughtfully scheduled, and all relevant information readily available; everything just goes better. High organizational skills save time and energy. They also lower anxiety and stress levels. It is always worth the effort to become more organized.

Planning and being PRO-ACTIVE is the ability to determine what has to be accomplished within a certain time frame in order to attain a specific goal. The successful completion of a project or goal is assured when it is divided into smaller activities that can be completed within a short period of time. This takes planning, however, and the foresight to assess what needs to be done when.

To effectively manage personal performance, each of us must continue to monitor every activity within our span of control. This may include activities that are delegated to us, as well as activities delegated to others. The evaluation process provides instant feedback on the current progress and overall status of a goal or project.

Understanding our strengths and those areas that need improvement is a continual process. Wise people know themselves and live from that knowledge. For example, if I know that I need 7 hours of sleep each night in order to be happy and healthy and I only sleep 5 hours, I am being foolish. In this scenario, I possess knowledge, but I don’t use it to benefit myself.

Taking a careful look at these four elements helps us see how we are coping with busy schedules and the constant demands on our time. This knowledge alone will be of little benefit, however, if we do not go a step further and shore up our efforts to “coordinate, organize, plan, and evaluate” our daily activities and potential goals. When we follow through with action, the many pressures and stressors of life will be lifted from our shoulders.

To a great Season – Strike up the band!!

Randy Gilmore served ten years as a nationally recognized high school band director and assistant marching band director at West Chester University. Over the past 21 years Randy has developed Marching Show Concepts ( as a nationally known company for quality marching band products and exceptional one-to-one services. Randy exemplifies an expertise and standard of excellence that is well known and respected throughout the music industry. He is an accomplished clinician, adjudicator and drill designer who continues to display his talents in the MSC collection of products and services.