I handed in a paper in my third year of uni. Nothing unusual in that. In fact, it’s such an integral part of uni life that it barely registered on my radar. Sure I’d enjoyed writing it a little more than the others, but it was just another submission to get me the one step closer to graduation. When it came back though, I got served a lesson. 

It came back and I got a First. My first First since the very beginning of my degree. I stared at the mark on the paper and got furious. Furious that no one had told me that I could aim for a First, that I should be striving for a First, that it was even in the realm of possibilities. My mind scampered over all the previous essays, work I’d handed in. What if if thought I could get a high mark? How would I have done them differently? And now, how would I prepare for my exams? 
It’s now about 15 years later, you’ll forgive me if I don’t count accurately, and you’d think that you’d see evidence of this little/ big life’s lesson. But until a couple of months ago, there isn’t a single thing I can own as part of that new wisdom I learnt back then. Yes, I’ve pushed myself sometimes, but never truly past what I think is easily within grasp. But that was all until a couple of months ago. 
I’ve been toying with an idea for about a year. For about a year, I’ve been thinking that maybe, just maybe, I could set up my own business. Not as a risk but as an investment in earning potential when I hit retirement age. I chose something that I love but couldn’t get too intellectual about. Reiki requires you to get out of the way, to literally hold a space for someone and the rest is really down to each client. Anyone who wants to, and does the training, can do reiki. 
But the lesson doesn’t go away until it’s been learnt. So a few months ago, I applied for a course to teach me how to set up a great business. I applied assuming I would be rejected. I wasn’t. I went with what I thought was my foolproof business idea. It wasn’t. I submerged myself in the process and as the course drew to a close, there was the lesson again. No one had told me I could be successful but I suddenly realised how much I wanted to make a difference. And making a difference to a lot of people is what I call successful. No one told me that I would be able to launch a product but that is what I’m going to have to do to realise whatever potential I have. Nobody told me I had tools and skills I had to offer and yet I know I must. No one told me who I was to dare to offer this to the world, from little me. 
Since then, I’ve not waited for anyone to tell me, to give me permission, to set my benchmark for me. Instead I’ve called whatever I think I’ve needed to to get me bigger, brighter and closer to my dream of being of service. My yoga practice has lengthened and deepened. I find it easier to speak up more, reach out more. I risk more, and each time I do, I realise a leap is sometimes just a little baby step. I laugh more at the stupid stories I tell myself and I try to close down less when I see people hurting. 
Nobody told me to step up but I feel like that’s what I’m doing. No one told me to aspire to be more but I feel like that’s what I’m achieving. 
I write this because there’s a good chance you won’t be given permission either. There’s a good chance that your nearest and dearest won’t urge you to do that silent little dream in you because they don’t know it’s there. We’ve forgotten how to tell each other to dare to be truly great, to stop playing small. But if you need to hear it, here it is:
That thing that terrifies you but lights you up because it shines on all the greatness that you are? Go do it. 
That thing that comes so naturally to you but that everyone adores in you? Invest in that. 
That thing that makes you weep inside because you know people don’t have to suffer like that, you know there’s a way past it? Work out a way to take more people past it. 
The worst that is going to happen is that you’ll help one person. The best is that you could change your world for the greater. 
Dare to be the best of you, there’s so much more to come. 

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