The Four Saddest Words


Image Courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat/

“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.”

-John Greenleaf Whittier

There is a lot of heartache, frustration, despair, sadness, remorse, disappointment, and regret when a life calling is missed.  When a true calling is deferred to the point where you can only, with a heavy heart, sigh, stare off into the cloud of the distant past, and in a moment of reflection see yourself having taken a different path in life, the road less traveled, the one you knew you were suppose to take.

Will you be the one on the porch of the retirement home, rocking slowly, telling your fellow retirees that you could have been a contender or will you be telling them stories that can only come from a life lived without compromise? Will they be riveted as you share the tales of your life, how you never counted the cost, how you stood on the shoulders of giants and saw further, reached higher than those who came before you?

As you rock along, will your stories consist of should haves, would haves, and could haves, or will you tell them tales that can only emerge from a life on fire for something, a life where you took a stand?   Will the tales you tell reveal your hold-nothing-back life, will they be stories of how you fearlessly battled fire-breathing dragons – dragons that threaten your passage when you are on the brink of doing something truly epic with your life?

mattrudmannblogWill you tell tales of slaying fire-breathing dragons – dragons that threaten your passage when you are on the brink of doing something epic with your life?

Do yourself and the world a favor:

GET IN THE GAME and shift the world, if just a little.

How will you make your one life count?


About Matt

Tech Sales Professional and Certified Coach - Helping professionals achieve their goals
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  • John G.


    Do you know anyone who suffered a lot of heartache, frustration, despair, sadness, remorse, disappointment, and regret when they missed “their life calling?” I don’t. And I don’t think God will let anyone get away with a missed calling. Yes, I have suffered through a really bad job choice two or three times, which I regretted at the time, but I put it past me in short order, either by quitting or getting fired. Much later, I realized these experiences were among the best that I ever had, because I learned from them. The more devastating the experience, the more I learned! For example, I really didn’t understand what a “borderline personality disorder” was until I chose a business partner several years ago who had this disorder. I also had two bosses before that with a milder version of BPD, but they were all unbearable to live with. So I moved on.

    I believe that we all have a purpose, and all our experiences are lived for a good reason. It is NEVER too late to change course and recast “what might have been” into “what really is.” Come on, True North is inside all of us, and God gave us the compass to see it with. And don’t try to do everything by yourself. Even Jesus knew he needed twelve assistants to help him carry out his goals. — John G.

    • mrudmann

      Hi John, thank you for your comment.

      I really liked your thought about True North as the internal “compass” which constantly points us to the better path.

      I also was encouraged when you mentioned it’s never too late. I believe that, too. Thank you for adding it to the discussion. You brought hope to the picture!

      As I pondered your other notes, I had some thoughts I wanted to reciprocate with. Here they are:

      -Do I know anyone who has suffered from missing their calling? Best answer I can give here is a story. Having worked at food kitchens with my family on occasion, I usually take the opportunity to spend time moving from table to table and talk to the people who have come in from the cold for a meal. The stories I hear are incredible. One, a banker who fell into addiction and ended up on the street. Is he living his calling? I don’t think so. His exercise of his free will took him off course. He lost everything: his family, his livlihood, his home, his health. Can he still respond to True North inside? Sure. However, as he spilled out his story I saw it all pour out onto the table: heartache, frustration, despair, sadness, remorse, disappointment, and regret. He didn’t want to be in his circumstance, but he was there because of his choices, it wasn’t an act of God that put him there, it was his exercise of his free will. God has something better in store for that man, but that man must choose to respond. Can God still use him as an instrument to accomplish His plans, certainly, but that’s entirely different from that ex-banker choosing and living his calling.

      -Will God let us get away and miss our calling? Free will can obstruct our answering a calling (maybe by ignoring it all together or saying no). It doesn’t mean that God can’t use us as an instrument, but that’s not the same as actively giving our “yes” to His call for us.

      -Learn from our experiences? Sure. It’s the greatest teacher. We learn just as much from failure as we do success, maybe more. Thank you for adding that in to the discussion. It’s a critical element I left out.

      -Never too late? Right on! As long as we have breath, but some people regrettably stop searching and sit back in their life. I see it and hear it all the time.

      -Could we have multiple callings? Why not? I think this is very possible especially at different stages of our life. This is why constantly asking “What does God want from me?” is important. They day we stop asking this question is the day we stop growing.

      -Needing others for this journey? You nailed it, John. Becoming our best selves requires companionship.

      Thanks for your awesome additions, John!