Be yourself–your best self. You can be no more.

We have all been conditioned to believe many things that simply are not true. One of the most damaging myths we have been fed is that you have to dedicate your life to one thing to be “successful.” Implicit in that mythology is the notion that you can’t be really good—successful—at more than one thing. Really? Have you ever heard of Da Vinci, Galileo, Franklin—or someone you know well (maybe you!)? Vincent van Gogh once observed, “The way to know life is to love many things.” Looking back over the decades I have lived, I find myself in agreement with R. Buckminster Fuller who said, “I have spent most of my life unlearning things that were proved not to be true.”

An artist friend decided to become a high school teacher. A gallery that had shown his paintings stopped because, in their words, he was no longer a “serious” artist (translation: paints full time). I find it interesting that three, additional, artist friends (Lester, Rob, and Robert) also decided to teach art (high school, college, and university), because they find joy in teaching others how to draw and paint. In my estimation, all three are phenomenal artists!

I begged my parents for a piano when I was seven. At 15, while learning Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto no.2 op.18, I walked away from piano lessons to pursue other interests. My noted piano teacher lamented to my mother, “Mark has the ability to become a world-class, concert pianist.” (But that’s not what young Mark wanted to do with his life.)

One of my new interests was motorcycles. Once, I was testing out a bike on our street. I had just finished modifying the motor. A day later, I ran into one of my neighbors. He said, “I thought I saw you riding a motorcycle yesterday.” I told him about my bike. He sighed, “I always thought you were a piano player.”

Professor Beck nominated me for an art scholarship at the University of Utah. One Friday, after a “show and critique” session where I had displayed a drawing, he asked me why I was studying art. I told him I wanted to become an artist. “Steve” startled me when he laughingly said, “You could leave here right now and make a living as an artist—you’re that good.” Although I was flattered, I had my doubts. I had come to believe that a formal degree was required to become a “serious” artist.

Having worked with thousands of people as a career/life coach, I have come to believe—strongly—that we each come to Earth with a life plan (things we want to learn and experience) and the latent abilities to live that plan. Some of us come with a laser-like focus on one pursuit. Others of us seem to be interested in pursuing many things. Success (contentment and happiness) comes from following our own hearts and living our unique lives fully. Disappointment and frustration await us if we endeavor to become anything other than out “best selves.”

So, if you ever hear, “You’re not a serious_____________,” I suggest you respond by saying, “I am serious about becoming my best self.”