Oliver Wendall Holmes once said “Many people die with their music still in them.” I think that captures the fear of about 99% of the people I see who come in for career coaching. Either they know exactly what gift or talent they have that they are not using or they are just afraid they have somehow missed finding their real authentic and fulfilling path.
What is that area that is lying dormant for you? I recently had a pharmacist approach me at the end of a short presentation I titled Hold Fast to Dreams. He said he had been in his profession for 17 years and could not think of any dreams he had. In his description of his “responsible, predictable” life it became clear to both of us that his dreams had become buried along the way. All those childhood passions had been put aside as one responsibility led to another. At this point he was so desensitized that he couldn’t even bring them to mind anymore. He began weeping in the 3 minutes of our conversation as he identified his current life.
You know the symptoms: as a child you loved singing but now you haven’t sung in 20 years. Or every time you see a news item about the starving people in Africa it brings you to tears – but you’ve never done anything to help. Or when you see a beautiful painting you remember how much you loved that second grade art class. You may recognize that whenever you are around old people you are energized by the compassion and wisdom they have – but you only go there once or twice a year.
Change – even when unwelcome or unexpected, often wakes up those dormant dreams. I have seen physicians move to the country to take up organic gardening, pastors who switched to fulfilling careers as artists, and housewives who emerged from the years of raising children to release their gifts in writing and counseling.
“Many people die with their music still in them. Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live…Before they know it….time runs out.” Oliver Wendell Holmes
Check out this 7 year-old singing the National Anthem. He’s getting his “music” out. It will be interesting to see where he is 30 years from now. Will he be enjoying singing as he does today? Or will the realities of life have him push that down as “unrealistic” as he goes off to his cubicle each day?