Years later when the Maestro came back, Tom, now a successful executive, arranged for a few friends to enjoy the concert from the very best seats and to meet the Maestro backstage after the performance.
Tom thanked the Maestro and said “You probably don’t remember, but I played for you once.”
“I said you lacked passion.”
“That’s right! How did you remember?”
The Maestro waved his hand and said “That’s what I tell all the young musicians.”
“But I changed my life based on your advice! I gave up on going to Juilliard and went to business school instead. I could have gone on with my music! I could be where you are now!”
“As I said, you lacked passion,” the Maestro said calmly. “If you had had passion, what I said wouldn’t have mattered. You would have pursued your music regardless of what I said.”
The moral of the story is that you should follow your passion no matter what anyone tells you.
I hate this story! It’s always bothered me and after doing the research for my book, I know why: It’s simply not true.
The reason most people don’t follow their dreams is not because they lack passion – or will power, discipline or talent – it’s because they don’t know how to manage fear.
Got Passion? Or Fear?
Passion and fear arise from the same part of the brain – the limbic system. As I explain in Around the Writer’s Block, if there is enough fear, the limbic system initiates the fight-or-flight response. When the limbic system takes over, the cortex is pushed out of the driver’s seat and all our creative thinking, problem-solving and commitment are temporarily lost.
It’s not that we stop wanting to play music or write, it’s that that passion is lost in the face of fear.
We don’t need to be told we lack passion; we need to learn how to respond to our fear. Reassurance, especially from those with more experience, is the first step in managing fear.
Next time: the other reason I hate the Maestro’s response and why you should too.