When I was seven years old I wanted to be an author. Not a writer, but an author. As in, ‘guy who writes books.’ Why I chose that career, I’m not sure. Maybe I liked writing. Maybe I thought books were cool. Or maybe it was just the first answer I could come up with.
The truth is, I never really gave it much thought.
That is, not until one random day about 6 months ago when I was giving a speech to a group of 7th graders. I started telling these kids about the two books I’d written when it hit me like a ton of books. Yes, books – not bricks.
Oh my God! I thought. I really AM an author!
At that moment I realized that there truly is something to be said about the career aspirations of kids. You see, the younger a person is the less likely his hopes and dreams are to be influenced by his parents, peers, money, fame or even college major. After all, when you’re seven years old – you don’t know anything, you just talk from your heart.
Unfortunately, somewhere down the line kids stop using their hearts and begin using their heads. And the result is: they think too much.
Don’t get me wrong. Thinking is good. But sometimes, you just have to listen to your heart.
Now I know that’s a bit cliché. To be honest with you, I don’t even know how the whole ‘listen to your heart’ process works. It’s probably different for everybody.
But I DO believe that success leaves clues.
And I DO believe that certain experiences in our lives are indicators of our true nature.
A few years ago I read an interview in Spin magazine with Bono, one of my heroes and also one of the great rock stars of my time. When asked about the musical development of U2’s songs, Bono quoted Michelangelo and said, ‘The sculpture is already in the stone.’
The sculpture is already in the stone. I never forgot that.
That means every time Michelangelo sat down to sculpt one of his many masterpieces, the piece was already finished. All he had to do was chip away.
That means every time Bono and his band mates sat around the studio to record a track for their next classic album, the song was already complete. All they had to do was chip away.
I think people are the same way. When each of us is born, we’re nothing but a big block of stone. Blank, untouched and unformed. But every single day of our lives is like a piece of that stone is being chipped away by our experiences. And eventually, there will come a time – probably some random Tuesday at 2:30 PM – when we will look in the mirror at what used to be a plain old block of stone, and see a great masterpiece: the sculpture of the person we were born to be.
And when that moment comes, my GOD…it’s beautiful. It reminds me of a great quotation I recently heard from best selling author and NSA past president Mark Sanborne, “There are two great moments in a person’s life: the moment he was born and the moment he realizes WHY he was born.”