How often have you said one of the following: “I wish I could learn more about a different part of the business,” or, “I wish I could learn to lead like the person down the hall,” or, “I wish I could communicate more effectively,” or, “I wish I could do something I have always dreamed of doing?” We often wish we could do more of something or start to do something we’ve always wanted to do. We may say that we do not have the time, the resources, or the drive to make it happen. We may say we have other obligations and priorities. What we don’t have is the drive or commitment to take that one step it requires to face our “wish” head-on and make it a reality. We still have the music in us.
Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.” I say, “Or you can be hit by a bus tomorrow.” It’s time we let the music out, now.
Many of you have heard about the sad story of the Orlando Florida Sea World trainer, Dawn Brancheau who was drowned tragically by a killer whale in February of 2010. There has been controversy over the event. I will not go into the debate about animal training and the event itself. However, one thing is clear from the many pictures of her smiling with the orca whales. She loved what she was doing and died doing what she wanted to do. Her music was being played every day she was with those beautiful animals.
On a personal note, I learned the first twelve notes from the song “The Rose” by Bette Midler when I was about ten years old in school during music class. I have never forgotten how to play it. I never learned to play an instrument or even to read music growing up. However, for more than thirty years, I played these same notes on every piano I walked past. I have been an admirer of Elton John’s and Billy Joel’s music for as long as I can remember and I love the sound a piano makes, but I never learned to play. At the age of thirty-eight, I got a call from my in-laws, who were eight hours into their twelve-hour trip to see us. I was told to get some help because they had a trailer with their old upright piano on it. What a nice surprise. We had hoped to get their piano when they got a new one, but could never come up with the right timing or means to move it from Maryland to Maine.
The next day, slightly sore, I began to “let the music out,” literally in this case. I started with my wife’s piano books, which I found in the piano bench from when she was eight years old. I began the journey to learn to read music and play the piano. I had my first informal recital in front of a close group of friends four months later on New Year’s Eve. I do not claim to be great, but I do claim that I really enjoy playing. I also claim to be doing something I’ve always wanted to do. My three beautiful children decided they also wanted to learn to play. A couple of them stopped after a few years of lessons, but only to pursue other interests to let out their own music. I chuckle to myself when the two who are no longer playing walk by the piano and play a few notes of a song they learned. It’s funny how you let out your own music and you start to influence people around you.
I share this personal story because it carried over into my professional work. I have found commonalities with people I never knew played instruments, and have come to work humming tunes I was playing the night before. My increase in personal satisfaction has bled into the professional work as I started each new day.
On the professional side, I felt I had things bottled up inside me. I knew I needed to communicate more effectively if I wanted to move forward with my career. I joined Toastmasters. Toastmasters gave me the platform to significantly increase my confidence as well as the ability to think more quickly on my feet, and to tell my stories with more personality. Toastmasters encouraged me to strive to go farther in the organization through communication and leadership certification. They walked me head on into the competitive world of speaking. Over the years, that has opened so many doors that I feel my own music had just begun to play. This book would not be possible if I had not won a door prize at one of the Toastmaster International conferences. I won a CD and book from a professional speaker who was present at the conference. I decided the next week after reading the book and listening to the CD that I wanted to do what he had done. I had always had these crazy ideas running in my head about wanting to write a book. I had work to do, but I wanted to let the music out.
We may not even know what music we want to play yet. We “don’t know what we don’t know,” and thus may need to continue to search for our own music. When something gets your attention and you say, “I wish…” you should stop and ask if it is something you should pursue. You might surprise yourself by taking the first step.
Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):
- Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
- Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
- Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
- The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
- From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
- The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood
Do you know about Avanoo.com? Two-to-three minute eLearning programs that can change your life.
MP3 Downloads of “From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide” are available at Apple iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Emusic, Nokia, Xbox Music, Spotify, Omnifone, Google Music Store, Rdio, Muve Music, Bloom.fm, Slacker Radio, MediaNet, 7digital, 24-7, Rumblefish, and Shazam “From Fear to Success” MP3 on CD Baby