Josh Irby

Live from Sarajevo

One Step to Guaranteed Disappointment

You know what’s one of the saddest thoughts? I would be an expert by now if I hadn’t quit.

Unfortunately, we’ve all thought that at some point.


My sweet wife started violin lessons after we got married. She had always wanted to play. She practiced every day. Slowly the screeches became notes and the notes became melodies—Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and then Bach’s Minuet.

She had a goal: to play Happy Birthday for her mother on her birthday. Her family didn’t know she was learning. The song would be a surprise. Her grandfather had been a well-known violinist on Vaudeville and his violin sat encased on the wall in the sitting room. Maybe, if she continued to improve, she could one day play her grandfather’s violin.

At her mom’s birthday party, everything went as planned. The song was beautiful. Her mom was pleased. She gained added incentive to continue learning her instrument.

One night, months later, some friends came over and we pulled out guitars. My wife ran upstairs to grab her violin. She started playing along—following the melody as best she could. It wasn’t perfect, but having heard her develop from the beginning, I was impressed.

One of our guests was not. He made a side comment about her scratchy sound. He suggested she stop. She was crushed.

That night the violin went into the case and did not come out again.

A few months ago she said to me, “Every time I see a violin I feel sad. It’s been almost ten years since I quit violin. Think how good I would be by now had I kept going!”

Looking Forward

We all have our “violin” stories and we look back in sadness at what could have been. But what if we look forward?

Is this how you want to feel one day about your

I know I don’t want to feel this way. So I ask myself these questions:

Can I stay focused on a goal or dream for the long-term?
Can I survive the negative voices around me?
Will I let them crush my dream?

Too often, my answers have been No, No, and Yes. But not anymore. I’m moving forward. Because there is one way to guarantee future disappointment: quit. (tweet that?)

A Wise Word

A few weeks ago my wife started a new project, one she has dreamed about for years. In spite of the obstacles and challenges of living overseas with four small children, she started a Mom’s Encouragement group here in Sarajevo. Seventeen women attended the first event.

She gave a short talk to the moms about persevering through the difficulties of motherhood. Her main points can serve any of us who are thinking about quitting.

(1) You are not alone.
(2) There is a reward at the end of the struggle.
(3) What you are doing is important.

The experienced mom is the one who pushes through and perseveres. The great writer is the one who keeps writing and does not quit.

When you find your passion, stick with it, hold on, and persevere. Keep moving forward—
deaf to negative voices,
blind to shiny distractions,
and mute to endless excuses.

Don’t give up. Don’t turn back. Don’t leave yourself a future full of regrets. Don’t quit.

[box] Need help persevering when things get touch, check out my series: True Grits’ Guide to a Grittier and More Successful Life [/box]

Original Photo Credit Sarah Horrigan (Creative Commons)

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