"Without initiative, the mission embedded in your soul will simply remain a might-have-been." — Jonas Cain
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When I was nine years old my music teacher invited me to join the "advanced" band. I had only just started to learn how to play the saxophone, but she was so impressed with how quickly I picked it up that she thought I would do well in the advanced band with the older kids. I was both excited and nervous all at once! Yet my first day in the band would also be my last.
I can still remember how overwhelmed I was staring blankly at the sheet music in front from of me, not even playing a single note, as the rest of the students played with ease. There were musical notes on the page that I had never even heard of before! This was so overwhelming that I never went back, and instead returned to my younger peers, to literally play it safe, where I was more comfortable.
This is perhaps my biggest regret in life, because who knows how my life would have been different if I had simply taken the initiate to ask the teacher or a peer for guidance. And it's important to note that I feel this way not out of a regret for lost musical potential, but it's because how we behave in even the smallest and perhaps even seemingly insignificant parts of our lives also has influence on the parts of our lives that truly matter most.
When we strive to not lose in life (instead of striving to win) we end up playing life safe—like a nine year old kid too afraid to speak up and ask for help. Yet, when we instead embrace life's challenges and take initiative, we'll always be glad that we never settled for anything less, because we'll never have to utter what the poet John Greenleaf Whittier calls "the saddest words of tongue and pen...it might have been."
In other words: "When you finally get that call, meet that person, walk that walk, and live that dream, do you think you'll even care that there were a few dark and scary moments in a journey that made them all possible? Trust me, you won't even remember. Keep walking...You'll be glad you never settled for less."
How are you taking initiative today?
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Jonas Cain is an educator, facilitator, and coach, working to engage, empower, and encourage leaders and the people they serve to experience joy.