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Susan Ann Darley: Defy the Odds and Pursue Your Dreams

Take risks and have the courage to fail; you will be a better person for trying

By Susan Ann Darley, Noozhawk Columnist |

Do not fear age, but fear a life half-lived because of fear. Do not look backwards to what might have been, but forward to what may be.

A few years ago in the 131st Run for the Roses, Giacomo, a 50-1 long shot, produced the second-largest win payoff in the Kentucky Derby’s history — $102.60 was paid on a $2 win ticket. Giacomo, named after the musician Sting’s son, was not a favorite or household name until he sailed to the finish line to defy the odds.

Norman Vaughan, an explorer, defied the odds for nearly 100 years. And on his birthday, Dec. 19, 2005, when he was to turn 100, his goal was to summit Mount Vaughan, a 10,302-foot mountain in Antarctica named after him.

After actor Christopher Reeve became paralyzed from the neck down, he defied the odds by continuing to act, direct, author books and be an activist and powerful spokesman for disabled people.

What odds in your life would you like to defy? Do you feel you’re too old to pursue your dreams?

Grandma Moses began painting in her 90s. In his later years, with snow-white hair, Socrates learned to play various musical instruments.

Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales was the work of the poet’s declining years. At age 50, Benjamin Franklin began important first steps in his philosophic pursuits.

While visiting my mother in an assisted-living home, one of the residents leaned over and said to me, “Enjoy life while you’re young.” Another resident retorted, “Enjoy it at any age!”

This woman, Dr. Eve Cappello, who at age 49 went back to college and earned a Ph.D., has written eight books, still works, mentors, teaches and even entertains groups of people by singing and playing the piano. Her latest book, More Great Sex After 50, says it all!

Do you feel you’re not talented enough to pursue your dreams?

Access your situation carefully. If you need more practice or instruction, then get it. If you have the talent but need to believe in yourself more, then put yourself in challenging situations that will help boost your confidence. Raise the bar.

If your dreams are so “high in the sky” that they are preventing you from using your talents, then lower the bar. The important thing is to take action.

“Some people die with their music still in them.” Don’t be one of them. Share you talents with the world. Whether it’s Carnegie Hall or your local coffee house does not matter.

Years ago while visiting a Jewish temple, I heard the lovely sound of a man singing. He told me that he used to sing when he was a prisoner of war in World War II. He used his gift to help him defy the odds and survive the atrocities of the camps.

What gifts do you want to share? To defy the odds sometimes is to simply overcome our personal demons that tell us that we can’t. It’s showing up for life 100 percent, taking risks and having the courage to fail. And so what if you do? You will be a better person for trying. You will have gained more knowledge and will be closer to beating the odds next time.

The motto on Vaughan’s business card is “Dream Big and Dare to Fail.” The advice that came from this rugged 99-year-old: “Just keep going. And if you fail, you can just keep trying over and over again until you succeed.”

Reeve said he would get so frustrated at able-bodied people who sat on the sidelines of their lives, watching it go by instead of fully participating in it.

What are you waiting for? Enter the gate and run for the roses.

Susan Ann Darley is a creativity coach and business writer. She provides a complimentary coaching session or writing consultation by phone. For more information, click here or contact her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 805.845.3036.

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