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Go back to school
By Ridgely Goldsborough

The girl spun on her toe for the last time, stopped, flexed and took a bow as the audience burst into applause. She smiled, curtsied and ran offstage into the waiting arms of her classmates. “That was soooo…fun,” they cooed and squealed.

Outside, a bevy of family and friends showered her with kisses and congratulations. “A perfect performance,” her mother praised. “I didn’t see a single mistake.” The girl took it all in, graciously accepted the compliments, made nice with the well-wishers and promptly forgot the whole thing. Why? Too easy.

The director chose her because she knew all the steps and would make the academy look good. No new challenges meant no mistakes, which led to a flawless recital and an image boost to the dance crew. The girl however, gained nothing—one more feather crowning a mane of forgotten accolades—another empty ego stroke. What a waste.

I recently attended a weekend seminar sponsored by Mark Victor Hansen of Chicken Soup fame, and sat in on a lecture delivered by acclaimed speaker and educator, Nido Qubein. Nido stated the following:

“If all you have is information or knowledge, people will use you, then discard you. What we need is wisdom.” Indeed. Where do we gain it?

We find it in the solitary place where true learning takes hold—the school of hard knocks. Wisdom comes from experience. Experience comes from failure. We fall flat on our face, stop, take notice, sit on the ground and ponder how we got there, internalize what not to do, stand back up and fumble our way forward. We don’t grow when we win. We enjoy the moment, pat ourselves on the back and celebrate—all valid expressions of a job well done.

That culminating glory however, stems from a journey of bungling and blundering, slipping and tripping, figuring out a better way based on a series of errors. We move from bad to mediocre to passable to competent to accomplished to mastery—a condition reserved only for those willing to endure many lumps and bruises along the way.

We need to bust out of our protective shell and take risks, with a clear understanding that we will misjudge, mix up, make fools of ourselves and face unpleasant, even scary situations in our quest to achieve anything of merit.

Okay—consider that a given. Those yucky, frightening encounters force us to pay attention, dig deeply and discover sides of ourselves that we must reveal in order to mature and flourish. No one starts at the top.

What might you do to expand yourself? Could you pick up an instrument, take art lessons, begin a business, tackle a foreign language, write a children’s story, sign up for a trek in the wilderness?

Ahead of you lies a path that only you can tread. It extends far into the distance, fraught with bumps and potholes, heavy undergrowth and steep hills. At various peaks, your dreams wait patiently for you, exalting you to fulfill them and look ahead to the next one.

Go ahead. Jump out of that comfort zone. Sow a wild oat.
The world wants you to win.
You’ll have to fail your way there.



Ridgely began scribbling as soon as his fingers could curl around a pen. So began a love affair, interrupted periodically by schooling, business and any number of self-initiated distractions to mask the fear of pursuing his childhood dream to be a writer. The journey took him through Law School, a number of private companies, going public, a large merger and back to his desk, a computer with a keyboard and the daily challenge of following the dream. Along the way, Ridgely founded and/or acted as publisher for Network Marketing Lifestyles magazine, Domain Street magazine and the Upline Journal along with dozens of books, audio and video materials. He writes several books per year, in addition to The Daily Column. Ridgely holds an undergraduate degree from The University of Virginia, a law degree from Whittier College School of Law, is fluent in five languages and has spoken to audiences throughout Europe, Southeast Asia, Mexico and North America. www.aviewfromtheridge.com





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