post written by: Marc Chernoff

Be Who You Were Born To Be


Follow Your Heart

 It is essential to understand that battles are
primarily won in the hearts of men.
- Vince Lombardi

Vance was an incredible guitarist.  In fact, he was so good, everyone who heard him play thought he’d grow up to be a professional musician.  In his heart, he thought so too.  “Life is music.  Keep on rocking!” he tagged in my high school yearbook.  Unfortunately, his parents thought otherwise.  They wanted him to get an MBA just like his father.  Vance respected his parents.  So once in college, he put away his guitar and committed himself fulltime to his studies.  “Music isn’t an option right now,” he told me during freshman year winter recess.  “My folks are paying my tuition and I can’t afford to be on my own.”

Madison dreamed of being an NCAA Women’s Soccer champion.  From the time she was a child she was swift and agile, with an obvious athletic gift.  In college, she dedicated herself to the sport.  During Madison’s freshman year, her team placed 3rd in the division.  In her sophomore year, her team placed 2nd, barely losing in the finals to a rival school.  Madison was named team captain at the start of her junior year, but immediately tore her ACL in the season opener.  She was devastated!  When she returned to the game the following season, she was no longer in championship form. “It’s not that my speed and agility isn’t there,” she admitted to me after a disappointing preseason practice. “It’s that I’m scared to go for it.  If I don’t seriously injure myself again, I may have a decent career ahead of me as a college coach.”

Good Excuses are Still Excuses

Vance and Madison had fairly reasonable excuses for holding back.  Vance had commitments and debts to his parents who were shelling out big bucks each year for his college tuition.  He wasn’t willing to disappoint them.  Madison was considering the idea of becoming an NCAA soccer coach someday.  She was concerned about the risk of another major injury that could potentially inhibit her coaching abilities.

Yet despite these reasonable excuses for not following their hearts, they couldn’t change who they were… who they were born to be.

“I knew deep down, when I wrote a business case on marketing and promoting local musicians, that music was still part of who I was.  It never stopped pulsing through my veins, and choosing to ignore this passion would have eventually ruined me,” Vance recently told me.

“After my junior season came to an abrupt halt, I just couldn’t shake those late-season, freshman and sophomore losses out of my mind.  I knew I wasn’t done.  I didn’t want the injury to defeat me… I just couldn’t go out like that,” Madison told me after an NCAA sports convention last winter.

The Choice is Ultimately Yours

As his parents requested, Vance majored in business administration, but also secretly minored in music at the same time.  When he graduated, a talent scout from Disney sent him an invitation to play lead jazz guitar for several ongoing shows at Walt Disney World.  He accepted the invitation and currently makes a decent living playing guitar full-time.  His whole family is proud of his success.  “In hindsight, it’s strange to think of a time when I chose not to play because I thought it would indirectly damage my career,” he said recently.  “Because the true damage… the life altering damage, would have been to quit playing for good.”

Madison pulled it together and begged the coach to place her back in a starting position for her senior season.  Then she passionately attended two-a-day practices and fervent physical training sessions.  When game day finally came, every effort in every second of the game was a direct pronouncement of her love for the sport, the sport that was part of who she was.  Madison played well and the coach kept her in as a starter for the duration of the season.  Amazingly, her team made it all the way to the finals and placed 2nd in the division again.  No, she never won the NCAA championship she so deeply desired, but she walked away knowing she’d gained so much more. “In the end, I knew I did exactly what I was born to do, using every capability contained inside of me.”

The Only Way

Vance and Madison inspire me.  So do others like them who refuse the excuses and follow their hearts against all odds.  Because of them, I realize that being “me”, in exactly the way I was born to be, is the only way to truly live.

Photo by: Esparta

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24 Comments

  • Great message for a Christmas week as many of us have a little time to relax and think about the future. I was surprised at how both of your stories ended because I expected each person would take the “responsible” path and give up their dream. You’ve given me something to think about as I ponder plans for 2009.

  • Inspirational stories! I love reading about people who gave their all to live a full and rewarding life.

    Failing to pursue our deepest desires is the root of all regret!

  • Thank you for this inspirational post. We are all so often sidetracked from following our passion. It is great to read about those who chose to follow their dreams.

  • These are difficult choices to make, and even tougher to act on when who you are is not as practical as who you could be.

    People often tell that I am lucky to be able to do the things that I love for a living. But they don’t see how difficult it is at times to take the true, but less practical, route through life.

    It takes strength to be who you are. It is worth the effort though, because if you can keep true to yourself you will grow even stronger through it.

    John

  • Great post and teriffic reminder! Another great insight! Thanks.

  • Marc,

    Thanks for sharing these inspiring stories. It’s sad to watch people trudging through careers they hate and neglecting the ones they were born to follow.

    Thankfully I follow my passion in the various directions it takes me. My choices don’t always make sense to others, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • As I was reading this, I was hoping these people wouldn’t give up on their dreams. I’m glad the story turned around in the end! Living a life you don’t want is no life at all.

  • Hey Marc,

    Thanks for sharing. It was inspiring. Sometimes people give up following their heart due to circumstances such as lack of money or society pressure, but being able to follow our heart and do what we want will definitely bring us boundless happiness.

    Cheers
    Vincent
    Personal Development Blogger

  • We can’t always make the right choices all the time - like you said, things like “thoughts” tend to get it in the way - but it’s important to realize that we can change our lives easier than we think. Sometimes it takes leaving our comfort zone, but I think that humans tend to perform better this way anyway.

  • All, your comments are inspiring and insightful. Thanks for keeping the conversation alive. ;-) I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday!

  • Thank you for your sharing.
    I am living proof that following your heart is the only way to live … I have never been happier.
    Happy Holidays!

  • Awesome post!
    I am living proof that following your bliss is the only way to lead a satisfying life.
    I left the corporate world to become a healer/massage therapist/artist…..so far, I am doing even better than I thought I would. It is amazing how doors open up when you chose to follow your heart and your bliss.

  • Hi Marc, very inspiring story.
    One of elements to success is doing perform what we love.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  • […] wrote about following your passion and being true to yourself. He tells two stories to reinforce his point saying, “good excuses are still […]

  • […] Be Who You Were Born to Be - Marc & Angel […]

  • Great stories, Marc! It’s nice to hear real-life experiences in addition to just hearing “be yourself” and “do what you love” all the time. :)

  • […] and Angel remind us to be who we were born to be.  Are you living your dreams, or dreams someone else had for you?  @Marc and Angel Hack […]

  • A friend recommended your blog and now I see why. That was a very inspirational post. Now that I’ve been out of college for a couple years, I’m starting to realize that “when I grow up” is NOW. So if I want to write that novel, I’m going to have to start sometime. Same with becoming better at meditating or keeping on top of my French. I can already see places where things could be even better if I’d realized this earlier.

    Thanks for the encouragement. :)

  • Great post. So very true. Thank you.

  • […] you want it, get it. No matter how silly it may seem to other people. No matter how risky, ‘unstable’ or difficult people may say the job is, you should still go afte… I believe that wisdom and a lot of motivation is the most unstoppable combination known to mankind. […]

  • What an inspiring post! It reminds me of a quote that goes something like “Don’t die with your music still in you.” I know who I am and what I want to accomplish. I’m also in business school because my parents want me to be, but it’s not my passion. Here’s the thing though: I’m not being derailed from who I am or what I want to do. I will eventually set up businesses and learning about the existing business world is a good place to start.

    Of course, I’m secretly getting a psychology minor and I wish that I could major in English, French, or Spanish [maybe all 4 - I started college with 53 credit hours, so I could have finished all four in 4 years had I started with that objective], but like Vance I can’t do that without losing parental support.

  • I’m in the the same situation Vance faced but with the passion of soccer. It speaks so much about me. I found this very inspiring, because i know that if i follow what my parents are telling me to do, i will not be able to be me. I’ve been lost all this time doing what other people want me to, but not anymore. Its time to be who i was born to be. thank you marc for sharing this great storie!

  • This is so inspiring. This is exactly what America thought me when I was a foreign exchange student in Denver, Colorado. My life over there was so different and the people around me were amazing and inspiring, they inspired me to be “me”, just as this post inspires me!
    Coming back to Northern Europe from two years that I spent in Denver, Colorado is just depressing. Over here people are so judgmental and full with complexes. I try my hardest to follow my passions and be who I am, but it gets harder with each day, because even my closest friends and my family over here judges me and have complexes and they stand in my way to be “me” !
    It might sound as an excuse, and maybe it is! But I don’t know if I am strong enough to be “me”, if there are no inspirational stories around me, if I am in a depressive environment. But I will try and stories like these inspire me to not give up and keep trying.

    Thank you!

  • But how do you decide what you really, really want?
    I wanted to be an astronaut (I don’t know why- but that is just what I wanted to since I was four).I wear spectacles-and hence, I am not eligible to be an astronaut.
    I love physics- because of the way it explains most of everything. So I’m pondering on doing Astrophysics.
    I <3 photography, playing the piano, horse riding and I have a growing fascination for economics and business along with politics.
    Sometimes I feel like I want to grow up(I’m 17) to be president of America-and sometimes I just feel like I should be an astrophysicist/entrepreneur etc.
    I’m going to college (UCLA!!) this fall (2012) and how do I figure this out?
    How do I figure EXACTLY WHAT I’m willing to work hard for, because of my crazy intense passion for it?
    Thankyou :)

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