Recently, I was invited as a speaker to a university event where we shared about our experience as alumni. During the event graduation dinner, my colleague, Maya said, “Look at them, I think we have come a long way ourselves, huh?” She nudged me while observing the kids dancing on the stage.
I smiled. “Do you know the term take a knee?” I asked her. She said no. So, I explained.
In the movie “After Earth”, When Jaden ran frantically out of fear in the dangerous earth, his commander cum father Will Smith repeatedly instructed him to “take a knee” until he stopped. And when he did, he realized he was poisoned by an alien insect on the back of his palm. He was dying. If he had not taken the knee, he would have run till exhaustion and dropped dead.
In the military, “take a knee” is an order given when troops are tired and need a break; or that action happens when troops are pausing to observe, orient, and decide the manner by which they will move forward against the enemy.
In life, we need to take a knee too.
Sometimes, we tend to be oblivious to how far we have journeyed because we get busy. We get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and we just drift away; We just move along.
“How do you take a knee in life?” Maya asked.
“Pause and pay attention,” I answered. There is power in mindfulness. It keeps our minds from wandering into the past and drifting into the future; it anchors our minds on the present. If life is a dance, mindfulness is you observing the dance. You dance in the moment; you do not cling onto the previous move nor worry about what is next. ”
Taking a knee is a way to take inventory of life too. Often, we underestimate the power of small successes we accumulated over time; They are easy to slip under our radar because we take them for granted; But, all big achievements are made up of many small wins. So, When you take a knee, take a moment to tell yourself, “Good job, keep going.”
“Brandon, how do I know what should I do? What is the right thing to do?”, one of the kids asked me during my sharing.
“Know Why you do what you do,” I replied.
Larry King, the iconic American radio and TV host said, “I knew I would become a broadcaster. I have always wanted to be in radio since I was five, I do not know where that came from but I just wanted it. I might have had a bad day, but when I go into the broadcasting room and when the light goes on- Bang! I am a different person,” Larry King has been broadcasting for the past 60 years and he said, “this is my purpose”.
“When I was your age, I was clueless as hell,” I was not joking. “A wise friend then told me, “when you don’t know what to do, just take a step! The only step that matters is the next one,” One step will lead to another and soon you will be moving towards somewhere meaningful. But, you got to start somewhere.
“Don’t overthink, Make mistakes, break things!” Every mistake is a life lesson; every life lesson gets your closer to what you are meant to be. Eventually, one day, when taking a knee you will come to an introspection and say, “This is it. This is it!” You will feel the butterfly in your gut and you will know that you have found your purpose. When you do, take a leap!
Here you go. My three simple tips for you, kids.
Take a knee, take a step, and take a leap.
Until then, don’t settle.