"I always encourage people to get out there, travel the world, see new things, experience new people, experience new food, experience new culture. What happens is that helps you to grow and be your best self." — Karamo Brown
Since 2001 I’ve worked every year as a volunteer leadership counselor for the American Legion Boys’ and Girls’ State Program. This program brings together juniors in high school from all across the state to come together and live on a college campus for a week and immerse themselves in leadership training.
In recent years I’ve been placed in charge of the choir and during 2017’s session I found myself in a near-teachable moment with one of my students. I say “near-teachable” because it occurred just after their big performance at the final big assembly, a performance that they had been working towards all week. Just as they finished their performance a guest speaker immediately took the stage so I didn’t get the opportunity to share what I believe to be an important and powerful insight.
This is how it went down: The students finished their performance and as they were leaving the stage I gave them two thumbs up, saying, “Great Job!” But one of the students called me out on it, saying to me, “Don’t Lie!” She said this because, admittedly, their performance wasn’t their best work. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t their best work. So no, their performance wasn’t great, but that wasn’t what I was talking about.
There were over 600 students at the program that week, and out of those 600 students less than 20 stepped up to join the choir. Less than 20 had the guts to raise their hands and volunteer to stand in front of over 600 of their peers to sing their heart out.
What I found fascinating about the choir that year was that most of them didn’t have any formal music training, and had never even sung in a choir back home. These students decided to get the most out of their week at the program by trying new experiences, and that’s what I was congratulating them on and that’s why I was encouraging them. Meanwhile, there were several students who were sitting down in the audience who do have musical training, who do sing back home, and who do have incredible musical talents, but they didn’t have the guts to step up and sing their heart out.
Think about this: Olympic Gold Medals don’t go to the best athletes in the world. No, they go to the best athletes that actually show up to the arena. The Magic Word Encourage reminds us to get the most out of life by always boldly stepping forward and performing regardless of circumstances and criticisms!
The next time you have an opportunity to share your heart, your passions, your talents, and your joys with the world…seize it! What can you do today to prepare for your next moment? What do you need to do to get ready to Boldly Step Forward & PERFORM?
Jonas Cain is an educator, facilitator, and coach, working to engage, empower, and encourage leaders and the people they serve to experience joy.