By: Ken Boone
I remember watching a congressional hearing a few months ago, when a senator opened his line of questioning with an admission that it took him over 15 years and three colleges to get his bachelor’s degree. Although he isn’t a guy a voted for, I applauded his candor. How relatable.
It took me almost that long to get my degree. My excuse was deep-seated fear that I wasn’t smart. And if I’m not that smart, any expenditure for my education would be a waste of my family’s scarce resources.
Funny thing is, I was a sharp cookie. I remember winning spelling bees, acing tests at will, even being one the teacher asked to help classmates with their homework. What happened to that guy?
I’m a guy who entered this world full of a thirst for life, wanting to do everything, try everything, be everything. Nothing was going to get in my way. No one was going to get in my way. Except me.
Painful experiences chipped away at my confidence, slowly but surely. Although my self-assurance was waning, it didn’t die. A small voice kept telling me that I could still do anything I wanted.
When I moved to Rochester, NY in 2005, I was a widowed father of a 15-year-old son who was trying to cope with the unexpected death of his mother. He was and is a very smart boy who sometimes had trouble applying himself. It looked like he had the same self-defeating behaviors that I’ve had. Why couldn’t he have just inherited my eye color?
By the time I got to Rochester, it had been 18 years since I’d made any music. By then, I doubted I would ever do anything musical other than listen to CDs in the car. What a waste. What a shame.
I talk often about appreciating the value of a closed door. In fact, that’s the topic of the first podcast that I host, beginning in May 2019. I used the time that I was away from music to earn a degree in Economics. That was challenging but a lot of fun! It made me marketable. It even paved the way for me to land squarely in the music business, which fulfilled a life-long dream!
Now, why did I use a picture of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs at the top of this blog post? It’s because in business classes you’re taught to aspire to reach the pinnacle of the chart. In fact, you’re taught that it’s a slow, steady, a noticeable climb to the top. You’re also cautioned that not everyone makes it to the top.
An interesting thing happened to me on my climb. I realized I was very close to the top! I was reaching a state of self-actualization. While I may never reach my full potential, I’ve hit every other milestone. Did I skip over some steps?
No, I never had the big job, corner office, golden parachute. Maybe I wasn’t seeking that. What I was trying to do was to continue to swim upstream, against the tide of self-doubt. I guess I was successful.
We are products of our environment. Nature and nurture are in a constant tug-of-war to see which has the greatest influence over our development. We have a revolving door of naysayers, many with good intentions. They are ruled by fear seemingly love to share it.
So listen small voice that tells you to keep moving forward, to keep taking well-calculated risks, to get the big rewards. When I coached youth baseball, I would tell a scared kid that the toughest thing he did up to that point was learn how to walk. He fell a thousand times, got up a thousand one times. He went from teetering to walking upright, then he ran. As for me, I’m off to the races.
Keep running toward your dreams, they are probably within reach!
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About the Author
As owner of the Descant Music & Media Group, Ken is a creator and producer of several podcast shows. He is also a music producer, as well as a writer and an accountant for small businesses and nonprofits.