The music student entered the practice room. On the piano lay a brand new musical score, extremely difficult to play …

The student picked up the music with trepidation and looked back and forth across the page, mumbling each note softly to himself. He felt his dream of becoming a pianist sinking slowly, slowly into the abyss, as he comprehended the true complexity of the music.

It had been three months since he began studying with his new instructor, but he had yet to comprehend why the instructor kept torturing him with new, impossible pieces.

However, he summoned all his reserves of strength, and in an attempt to lift his sinking spirit, sat down and began pressing each key on the piano with shaking fingers. The sound of the instrument filled the room, drowning out the formidable teacher’s approaching footsteps.

The instructor was a renowned and revered piano teacher in the music world. From the very first class, he assigned his students a new piece of music every single day.

“No time to lose, let’s try it out!” The teacher instructed, coldly.

The music score was a classical piece and extremely complex. The student was puzzled, immobilized with fear, afraid of the challenge ahead. Could he master his beloved instrument with shaking fingers, and through his fear of failure?

“Have you not mastered it yet? Go home and practice a lot!” The teacher looked at the student sternly, unmoved, and seemingly unconcerned about the young student’s struggle with each and every note.

The student dutifully left for home.

After a long week of hard work, the student was anxiously waiting for an appraisal of his assignment. Unexpectedly, this time, his teacher completely neglected to ask about the piece he had been practising so diligently. Instead, the teacher gave him a brand new song with an even higher difficulty level.

“Try it!” The teacher ordered once more. The student’s heart sank: this new challenge was even more of an ordeal than the last.

The pattern continued for a second week, and then a third.

As the weeks passed by, the student was bombarded with new piece after new piece after new piece, and every time he was instructed in the same way; “Try it!”

He would go home, practice, and return again, only to take home yet another brand new piece of excruciatingly difficult music.

No matter how hard he tried–and try, he did–he could not keep up. He grew increasingly demoralized. The student didn’t notice even the slightest hint of progress.

He felt insecure, low, and depressed. Eventually, he could stand the pressure no longer. The student decided to confront his teacher and ask; “Why do you keep tormenting me like this?”

The teacher only smiled, and retrieved the very first song that he’d ever given the students. “Try to play it now,” he instructed. He looked at his defeated student with a steadfast gaze.

What happened next was beyond the long-suffering student’s wildest dreams. He could hardly believe his ears. The music pouring from his fingertips was as mellifluous as birdsong; his fingers were dancing across the keys as if he’d been born playing the piano.

He played fluently!

The teacher then handed his student the second week’s score, and the third, and astonishingly he could play them both with great skill and flair.

After his performance, the dumbstruck student stared blankly at his teacher, not knowing quite what to say.

Mastering a brilliant performance. (Photo: Unsplash)

The teacher spoke, softly this time. “If I had kept assigning you the pieces that you are best at, then you would never have reached the level at which you are playing now,” he explained.

“People want to show what they know. However, if we dare to embrace a new challenge, dare to embark upon a new journey, then we will be startled to uncover the truth of our abilities. The impossible becomes possible. The pressures we once felt become the very seeds of our progress.”

“Inside each of us exists infinite potential!”

The student sat down and absorbed the teacher’s words. He had learned a difficult but illuminating, life-changing lesson.

In life, if we fear challenge and change we will remain static. Successful people are the people who dare to change their way of thinking, and who embrace new challenges head-on, spying progress and personal growth in their futures.

Just like the music teacher said; “Inside each of us exists infinite potential.” If you want to move up the ladder, don’t be afraid to take the next step.

What lies beyond may surpass even your wildest dreams.