It Takes Courage to Follow Your Heart

Nick SabanThe following includes an excerpt from my new book, Life to the Fullest: A Story About Finding Your Purpose and Following Your Heart

“If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

“Don’t chase the money, follow your heart.”

“Find your unique purpose; that’s where you’ll find happiness and success.”

At some point in our lives, we’ve all heard variations of these phrases. They’re often repeated by speakers at graduation ceremonies or motivational seminars.

Highly-successful people from all walks of life echo these words often. They inspire us to chase our biggest dreams. They encourage us to examine our souls and ask ourselves, “What was I truly born to do?

We’re told that if we just find the answer to that question, everything else will fall into place and life will be a lot more fulfilling for us.

Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, emphasized the importance of finding your purpose when, in a speech delivered to Stanford University’s 2005 graduating class, he famously said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. … Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. … Everything else is secondary.”

Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson said, “Life’s too short to waste your time doing things that don’t light your fire. … There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions—in a way that serves the world and you.”

These entrepreneurial legends, Jobs and Branson, don’t use any qualifiers. They make it sound as if your success depends on finding your true calling.

In the arts and entertainment industry, you’ll find more of the same life guidance.

Stephen King, the most famous author of our time, said, “I never set a single word down on paper with the thought of being paid for it. … I have written because it fulfilled me. … I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for the joy, you can do it forever.”

James Patterson, another hugely-popular author, offered this succinct life wisdom: “To succeed, you have to work hard and love what you do.”

Ella Fitzgerald, the legendary singer, once said, Don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”

Again and again, we hear the message to follow your heart. To chase your passion. To do what you love to do.

How about the sports world? The two most successful football coaches so far this century offer nearly identical advice.

Bill Belichick, the winner of more Super Bowls than any other coach in NFL history, says, “Don’t pick a career for money or some other reason. Do what you love, because it will never feel like work.”

Nick Saban, the most successful college football coach in modern history says the same thing: “It is imperative that we all make every effort to do what we love. My job is definitely a challenge, but I like what I do so much that it rarely seems like work to me.”

Derek Jeter, one of the greatest baseball players ever, put it simply: “Dreams become realities when you love what you’re doing.”

Regardless of the career field, the most successful achievers agree: you must follow your heart and live your unique purpose in order to be successful and happy.

It’s inspiring to hear advice like this. It forces us to reexamine our own lives and search for our purpose. It encourages each one of us to chase our dreams despite what any naysayers may try to tell us.

However, most of us also have a cynical voice in our head that hears such advice and counters with something like, “It’s easy for them to say that. They’ve already made it big; they’re hugely successful and wealthy. What if I chase my dream and fail?”

Or, that pessimistic voice says, “What if my dream job doesn’t come with a million-dollar salary? I want to do what I love, but I’ve got bills to pay!”

And then there’s this common rebuttal: “Sure, I’d love to follow my purpose, but I don’t know what my purpose is!”

How do I find my purpose and is it “safe” to follow that purpose once I find it?

These are two of life’s most important questions and these are the two questions my new book, Life to the Fullest, answers.

The fact is, it takes courage—lots of courage—to follow your heart and chase your dreams. Life to the Fullest is a book that celebrates that type of courage.

One of my favorite quotes comes from the baseball great Satchel Paige, who said, “Never let the odds keep you from pursuing what you know in your heart you were meant to do.”

To me, that sums up what it really means to live life to the fullest.

It’s not about doing what someone else says you should do and it’s not about chasing fame and fortune. Living life to the fullest means listening to your heart and following the unique purpose God has placed in your heart—whatever that may be.

For much more on this life-changing subject, grab your copy of Life to the Fullest here.