I was speaking with a music teacher who I met last week and she told me an incredible story. She’s been teaching a certain instrument to children for decades.
A few years back, two different seven-year-olds started lessons around the same time. One of them was gifted. She picked up everything immediately. She had the rhythm, grasped the melodies and never had to practice. The other one was the most challenged student she had ever seen. She couldn’t pick up the songs, she had no rhythm, and she struggled to play. But she practiced every day and she loved coming to class to learn more. Numerous times over the years the teacher thought of mentioning to her parents that maybe this instrument wasn’t for her. Maybe she should try something else. But she always held back as the girl seemed to enjoy the process so much.
At age 14, the gifted girl hit a wall. She was still a wonderful musician, but not having to practice caught up with her. She went on to major in music but her exponential growth levelled off.
And the girl who just couldn’t click with the instrument? Something happened around age 14. Everything came together and she blossomed into a beautiful musician playing the instrument she never gave up on.
The story brought myself and the teacher to tears.
How many times in life do we see someone struggle and then give up because it is too hard to go on? How many times have we taken that path ourselves?
How long is too long to try? When you love something, should you ever give up on it?
These are all questions we need to ask ourselves. If something gives us joy, how do we measure success? By coming first or by growing a little more or learning something new? The more comfortable we are with failure, the more free we are to become exactly who we were meant to be.