From Don Miguel Ruiz’ The Four Agreements cards — today’s card comes from the Agreement Always do your Best. This is what it says:
Take Action on Your Ideas
Doing your best means to take action. You can have many great ideas in your head, but without action upon an idea, there will be no results, and no reward.
I have always had grand ideas. In high school, I decided I would become a concert French Hornist.
I was on my way. I played in the school band, and the Portland (Maine) Youth Symphony Orchestra; I also placed top or near it for four years of All-State competition. This idea seemed on the right track, but I found out, in college, how wrong I was.
I never had to practice my music. I had an innate ability with the French Horn that still surprises me to this day. However, when I enrolled as a Music Major at the University of Maine, Orono, I learned part of the curriculum was private instruction, by the faculty. My innate ability didn’t mean squat. The professor informed me on the first day that I was not playing correctly — my breathing, embouchure (lip position,) even the way I was holding the horn.
He expected me to correct all of these problems with practice, but I thought practicing was unnecessary and a waste of time. That attitude led me to drop the Music Major, and re-enroll as a History student, instead. I lasted even shorter a time there, before I quit school and married ex #1. I didn’t play the horn again for almost two decades; when I chose to play again, I found myself positioned between two very accomplished players. Rather than work hard, to get to the level they occupied, I quit playing, again. What a loss.
I always expected the idea-to-action result, with little effort from me. Until I started cashiering at the hardware store, in 1994, I remained unable to fulfill those notions flitting around in my head, including a long-term job, a long-term relationship, or appropriate control of my diabetes. I can blame some of my unwillingness to succeed on my depression over the short life-span the doctor warned of when I was diagnosed. But I was also lazy. Sadly, up to a year ago, I never shook that feeling of somehow deserving to find my ideas fulfilled with little or no effort on my part. What a lot of precious years I wasted.
Last August, I joined a Dream Team here in my community — the members of the group offered support and encouragement to each other, with the goal of accomplishing a dream each of us always carried. My goal, for that first team, was to write — the class ended with me setting up this blog.
For perhaps the first time in my life, I worked to make my goal come to pass, and here I am, a year later, posting almost every day.
I joined a second dream team last winter, and while I didn’t have a goal in mind, I ended up writing poetry, and eventually beginning a new blog for that. I’ve been invited to join a third team, since the others so benefitted me. I don’t have a particular idea in mind, but I know that, now I’ve seen the group work, I will devote my time and energy to making my next idea come to life. I am unwilling to waste time, to sit back and hope, or expect, that my ideas will come to life on their own. I don’t intend to let difficulty, or the magnitude of my ideas, (and the action necessary to bring them to life,) stop my working toward them. As sister S. says, “Just because something is hard to do doesn’t mean it’s bad.” Amen to that!