I hurried out of my apartment on a Friday morning to get to work. I got a taxi and asked the driver to take a route that I knew would get me there faster. He cocked his head and said, ‘You know, I heard on the radio before leaving home that the road you want is closed today.” I shrugged and said to him, “Guess I have to trust you.” To which he responded, “Yes…sometimes you have to listen before you come out.”
We drove on to cross a bridge, where the driver pointed to my preferred route in the distance. “Look there,” he said. Lo and behold, there stood the neon, hard-to-miss signs declaring, ‘ROAD CLOSED.’ A clump of drivers stood at the road’s entrance trying to reroute their cars. They hadn’t listened before coming out.
I pondered on the driver’s statement for a minute, and realized how true it was. I’m someone who is always looking ahead to the next thing. The next project, the next destination, the next event. While that’s ok in some seasons, what I’m learning to do is take a hard look before stepping out on the things I consider. I have to do some research to answer key questions. For example, “Is this related to what I was created to do in life?” “Will this enable me to better make the impact I want to have?” “Are there any downsides that I need to plan ahead for?” And as a newlywed, I also have ask myself, “how does this affect what my husband and I have going on now? How does it impact our future?” Precisely, this is ‘listening before coming out’.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m definitely a part of the generation that believes you need to follow your dreams no matter what. Today, we have the luxury of opportunities to be more creative about how we live out our dreams. But even with that, we still need to listen before we step out on the opportunities we see. After all, not every opportunity is the right opportunity.
I tend to speak with a lot of college students who have grown up with a strong Nigerian influence, like I have. Their parents are often trying to route them on the journey to medical school, a prestigious school of engineering, or finance and accounting at the very least. Unfortunately, I have seen some students comply. They start the journey without truly listening and eventually realize they have no interest in what they’ve started. Some others flat out refuse, and pick Psychology as a major without understanding what it takes to make a valuable impact with the degree.
College student or not, the issue remains the same when it comes to decision making. Are you allowing yourself to listen through all the noise? If you are in the throws of making a big decision, you have to give yourself space to listen before you come out. Have you spoken with people who have successfully made the same type of choice that you are making? Have you read the stories of people who are successfully doing what you desire to do? And ave you bothered to imagine what your life would look like when you finish whatever it is you are looking to start? If so, do you like what you see?
Most importantly, are you listening deeply to the voice in your heart that points you north? Amidst the negative voices that try to down play your goals and your abilities, that voice still dares to scream from within, “This is who you are! This is where to go! This is what you were made for!” Sometimes it takes courage to listen to that voice, but the end of it is always SWEET!
Admittedly, you can’t possibly know it all. You can’t plan for everything either; and the truth is, you don’t really need to. However, you do need secure your path and find a way to avoid some unnecessary pains. The first step to doing that listening closely to the vitals before stepping out.