I was in a community garden with about 10 teenage boys from a juvenile corrections program. As we were turning the soil, I was chatting with one of the boys working next to me. I asked, “If you could do or be anything in the world, what would that be?” He looked at me strangely, “What do you mean?” I asked his age and he told me he was 16. “Okay,” I said, “this is a little bit of a strange way to put it considering your age, but what do you want to be when you grow up?” He smiled, almost embarrassed and laughed awkwardly. Shaking his head, the smile left his face, “I don’t know, Miss, no one’s ever asked me that before.”
My heart sank. “Okay, well, I’m asking you now.” He thought about it awhile and now a few boys were listening. We’d all stopped working. A slow smile crept on his face and as excited as a child, he exclaimed, “An astronaut! I’d be an astronaut.” I smiled and asked, “Cool. How’s your math skills?” He looked almost panicked, “Oh, I don’t know, Miss. I ain’t so good in school.” While I didn’t know his particular story, working in the community that I did, I knew many stories similar to his and what had landed those community members in and out of correctional facilities. We talked for awhile about realistic options that could allow him down that path. I didn’t want a belief that what he knew or didn’t know at that moment influence what he could be or do with his life.
Vidya is the sheath of limited knowledge. It often shows up as “I don’t know how.” It drives people to seek more and more education and additional certifications prior to following their dreams. Not knowing does not have to be a limitation.
Thomas Edison was taught at home by his mother and , it is said, through reading R.G. Parker’s School of Natural Philosophy and The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. Yet, he started 14 companies (including General Electric) and held 1093 patents.
Abraham Lincoln is a perfect example of someone who was self taught, became a lawyer before legislator and eventually the President of the United States most famously known for abolishing slavery.
Knowledge, or perceived lack of, is an excuse to avoid the risk of failure, judgement or disapproval. You don’t have to know everything to follow your gut. Edison and Lincoln followed their instincts and changed the world.
What would happen if you became quiet enough to listen to your inner wisdom? How would it guide you? What would be the next step? Would you be willing to take it?
Today, stand strong in your knowing. Take 10 minutes to get quite and listen to your inner wisdom. Then, take one simple step forward.