You Never Know Until You Try (Part 1)

You never know until you try.

That has been a phrase that I have tried to keep at the center of my life, and it really is true. At first glance, or even after a hard look, many things looks impossible (or at least improbable). For most people, the phrase goes like this:

You never try until you know.

They decide not to apply for a job opening that you’d really like because you don’t feel that you are qualified enough. They would like to speak at a conference, but they worry they won’t be viewed as enough of an expert in their field. They would like to change careers to something they are more passionate about, but they are afraid of the risk. They want to know that it will work out before they try.


The world doesn’t work that way. There’s another phrase that goes “good things come to those who wait.” I completely disagree! Rather, “good things come to those who chase them.” In the current world of academia, I am “under-qualified” for my job because I do not currently hold the highest degree possible in my field (Doctor of Musical Arts). Now, I knew that before I ever applied for my current position. I could have sat on that information and never sent out any applications. I was comfortable with my career where it was. I was successful, and I was making a decent living for my family. But I had wanted to teach at the college level since I was in college. It was an overwhelming desire that I couldn’t get out of my mind. The easiest way to that path was to get my DMA,  but with a wife and later a baby to support, that easy way really was not easy at all. I decided that I didn’t know for sure that I couldn’t get a university job until I tried. So tried I did. I sent out a ton of applications. I got several rejections letters, and several schools sent no reply whatsoever to my application. It wasn’t until the last application I sent out that I finally got the call that would start the ball rolling of landing my goal job.

I guarantee you that had I polled a large group of music professionals to ask them if I should even try applying for a full-time college position without a DMA, the vast majority of them would say not to bother. In today’s job market, it’s just not going to happen. The competition is too fierce. But if I had never tried, I would definitely not have been offered the job. It was only because of trying that I knew what was possible.

That is one story of how trying without knowing worked out positively in my life. I could tell you many, many more, but I won’t bore you. However, in part 2 I will share how I plan to apply this principle in the future. I sense a strong desire to tackle a big issue in my field, and to be honest, it’s a completely overwhelming thought. It scares me. I honestly don’t know if I can do it. I think there are many people more qualified that I to do it. But…

I’ll never know until I try.


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