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The Song Inside Us All

I remember observing a Facebook conversation where a lawyer mocked certain modern trends and concluded by firmly stating that he was entirely self-made and had not relied on anyone else for his success.

“I worked for my success” has a certain appeal to it. I remember saying similar things often myself in various situations, but when I saw it come from this attorney, I really started questioning the statement.

Is any person self-made? I have reflected on this question for some time now. As I have, I have reflected on some of the following:

  • In order for any one of us to be here, we all had to have a mother who was willing to carry us inside her. No small sacrifice indeed.

  • As children, we all probably needed someone to bring home food and clothes for us until we were at least 12, if not 18 for the overwhelming majority of us.

  • History tells me that countless men and women have died to fight for freedoms and liberties essential to our current way of life.

  • Countless people have also died settling America, building the trains, bridges, dams, and other infrastructure that so many of us rely on or that connects our society to enable opportunities like law school to be so available to so many.

  • I like to say that I did some home project myself. However, to do the home project, I go to the store, buy a tool specially designed for the project, buy easy to install faucets, sheetrock, or the like, and then watch a YouTube video on how to do the project that was posted by a person with years of experience.

However, I also reflect on the following facts:

  • Law school (or any other form of education) does take a lot of individual work. People can and do fail for not working hard enough.

  • Building a successful business or career often takes a lot of work, time, risk, and investment.

  • There are a number of children who are left on their own from a very young age, and they have to develop their own habits, goals, and desires.

  • Many people have to work through serious adversity to get to where they are at. Those that did not put in the same work often are not enjoying the same results as those that did.

  • We usually have to choose to learn the things that will help us be successful in what we do.

  • For many, success often requires working through a fair amount of pain or struggle, both of which cannot be born or carried for us by others around us.

These thoughts have bounced around in my mind for a while. Recently, I watched a show about the journey of a songwriter/singer that produced many gold and platinum level songs and albums. His initial hit song, which was a platinum level song, was written in about 20 minutes.

However, the show made clear that he had endured countless years of abuse, trials, work, and efforts. He had tried with many other songs, many other venues, and many labels. At one point, he decided to give up.

His mentor in the show told him not to give up, but to change his efforts from trying to please others to letting the true self inside of him write and sing the song.

As the singer reflected on this, he went home to address his past with his abusive father. When he arrived home, he discovered that his father was dying of cancer. After he resolved his past conflict with his father, his father passed away, and the singer was left trying to process all that had happened.

It was at this point that the song came to him. When it came, it came clearly and well. His song has now inspired millions of people. He had found the song inside.

As these thoughts worked their way through my mind, I had the thought that “you have a song inside you too.” I almost laughed at this thought, as I am not artistic or musical. I did wonder though “why do only some people have the gift to write great music?”

“It is because each person has their own great gift and contribution to give” was the simple whispered reply. Ultimately, I believe there are two great truths at work in all of this:

  1. We are individual and have to work, hard, to find and express the song inside (or achieve the success that only we can do); and

  2. Our lives are shaped and blessed by the countless lives of individuals who have helped our world arrive at the point it is at.

In my mind, I see a tree with these principles. The part of life that is easy to see, the tree (trunk, branches, leaves) can represent the actions that we are required to take to be successful, while the roots of the tree and the earth it is in can represent all that has been contributed or given to our life by others. Just as you cannot understand a tree by only looking at the parts above the earth or the parts in the earth, so too you cannot understand an individual without looking at both the past and the others contributing as well as the efforts of the actual individual.

What does this all mean? To me, it means that I have reason to be grateful. When I trace my roots for what I enjoy today to the lives of soldiers who died, to the countless individuals who built America, to the teachers who taught me, to my parents who raised me, to my friends who encouraged me, I feel a deep sense of belonging and appreciation for my life.

When I look at my hard work and efforts, I have reason to feel accomplishment. My efforts have done something to contribute and add to this world, and I can feel the satisfaction that comes from hard work and effort.

In other words, when I look at life from a complete perspective, I gain insight into my own song inside. Maybe my song is not written with notes or played on a piano, but maybe what I have to contribute can be just as profound.

I strongly believe that each of us carries significant good inside that is unique to just us. As we resolve our past conflicts, work hard with gratitude, and focus on seeing the entire tree to our life, we gain a far deeper understanding of who we are and what we can contribute.

Our most meaningful contributions are those that tie our past to the individual inside of us. In other words, we can change the world, but to have the most lasting and meaningful impact, we have to connect well to our roots and recognize the contributions of the thousands and millions who have added their song, or touch, to the life that we have.

There is a song inside you. The world needs you to become everything good you have the potential to be. That song, or the good you can bring the world, is a powerful combination of all who have contributed to your life and your unique personality, work, and efforts. That song, when written, will produce a strong sense of gratitude and accomplishment, and it will help to change our world, for good.

You can start today by simply expressing thanks to someone who has impacted your life. Visit


At Believe, we are working to create of community of people who are working to reach their potential to shape the world, for good. We are in the process of launching Believe Trees, an interactive way to better connect and visualize the system of roots and branches that are part of our unique tree. We would love to have you join us or otherwise contribute to the development of this project that we fully believe can help to change the world, for good.

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