One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from my 7th grade music teacher.

I was 12 Years Old

A few students in music class were being especially rowdy that day which included pushing each other on the risers where we were standing to practice a song. No surprise, one eventually fell off and tumbled into a set of drums. The music teacher calmly turned away from the piano she was playing, starred intensely, and called three of them by name. She told them to head to the principals office. At that point, one of the them cried out, “But it’s not my fault. He made me do it!” as he wildly pointed to the ring-leader of their little funny business. She replied, “Nobody is ever choice-less. Everything in life is a choice.”

Psychology Lessons From the Music Teacher

At this point, the entire room let out a collective, “Ya, right.” sort of mumble. Hearing this, a smile came across the teacher’s face. She said, “Don’t believe me? I’ll prove it to you. Name an instance where you feel there is no choice and I’ll show how you are wrong.” Immediately, the wise-cracking ring leader yelled out what the entire room was thinking. “I don’t have a choice about being in this class.” Her response was simple. “Sure you do. You can choose not to show up and suffer the consequences of detention and a phone call to your parents.” He said, “That’s not a choice. Who wants to get in trouble?” Her grin grew wider and she said, “Exactly. You choose to go to school because you choose not to suffer the consequences if you don’t.”

Every Waking Moment, We Make Choices

For the rest of the class we all sat on the bleachers and tried to stump her. We failed. Some choices were easier to make than others because the reward or punishment dictated the choice. While others were harder to determine. Still, she proved her point. It was a powerful lesson – and it’s helped me more times than I can imagine in my life.

Limited Choices? Create New Ones

Whenever I’ve faced situations in life where I’ve felt my choices were limited, I think back to that day in music class. I’m reminded that if I don’t like the options available, I need to create new ones. I need to face my fears, lean in, and take action – or suffer the consequences of feeling held hostage by my limited options. This lesson helped me:

Walk away from the safety of a corporate job and give myself an extreme career makeover.
Design a business that suits my needs as a professional, mother, and wife.
I’m grateful for receiving such powerful advice at a young age. It’s given me a sense of power over my life that I cherish. Good thing I chose to go to music class that day!

P.S. – First time reading my posts? Thanks for taking the time to stop by! Not only do I write for Linkedin, but I’m also founder of a popular career advice site,CAREEREALISM,and currently run the career coaching program,CareerHMO. I hope you’ll check them both out!