“In life, there are no overachievers, only underestimators.” Rich Ruffalo, Olympic athlete
A story from Nancy Stokes Milnes, wife of the world-famous baritone, Sherrill Milnes, as told to The New York Opera Newsletter:
“Once Sherrill and I were having dinner with a very well-known coach. We played a recording of Sherrill when he was in college and asked that coach, ‘What do you think about this voice?’ And he said, ‘Oh, there’s not a chance. Don’t encourage this person. Tell him to get a day job.’
“And when we told him that the singer was Sherrill, that coach said, ‘You know, I’ll never discourage another singer again.’ And I don’t think he ever did.
“After all, you never can tell. The most gifted person can walk into your studio and achieve little. And someone whose talent seems just okay can work and work until he or she can make it. You can’t tell people what their dreams are, or what the limits of their dreams
should be. It’s up to them to tell you.”
What an inspiring reminder for us all not to let anyone limit our dreams — especially ourselves! So often we — and those around us — focus on what we lack rather than what we have. Instead of putting our energy into developing our skills and talents, nurturing them until they grow stronger and stronger, we let our lacks overwhelm us — we underestimate ourselves or accept other people’s low estimations of what we have to offer. We allow them to set limits on our dreams or, even worse, we accept our own self-imposed limitations.
There’s a simple solution for us all: Let’s forget about talent and what we don’t have and focus on what we do have control over: a can-do attitude and the ability to work hard. Anyone, as Nancy Milnes says, “can work and work” until our talent deepens, our inner strengths blossom, and opportunity finds an open door and heart. Write on!