"When I talk about “the music within us,” I’m talking about when we connect with that place inside us where our vibration, our energy is aligned with our passion. It’s like music to our ears. There’s a different sound to how we present ourselves in our lives when we are connected with the music within us, and that’s my metaphor for the essence in our nature coming out. I’m just inspired whenever I see that, and it speaks to me." - excerpt from my interview for the Get Inspired Project
Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with Toni Reece, creator of the Get Inspired Project. Toni is conducting 365 days of interviews with people who are inspired and inspire others.
The transcript and recording of our 15-minute interview are now live on Toni's site: http://www.getinspiredproject.com/2010/06/26/day-269-dr-lisa-chu/
This excerpt I found especially inspiring even for me to read again now:
Toni: How did you come to realize that this essence, this music inside of you, the creativity, the spark, would play a part in your own courage to move you forward? How did that realization happen for you?
Lisa: Well, I guess the story that I would tell is that I went to medical school, frankly, because I was expected to. In my family, education was a really high value, it was a priority, and the assumption was after college you go to some sort of graduate school; it doesn’t just end in college. Just so people know … that’s the base assumption that I was operating on. I went to medical school. My brother is a doctor, I’d seen it done, it seemed very doable, but it was not my passion. It was definitely a path to secure a career route that would do good for society, and these are all good things, but it wasn’t something that I loved.
You know, the first realization was that I didn’t have to go to a residency and do what everyone else around me was doing, and that was sort of my first step of courage when I looked around and said “You know, who says that I have to?” When I realized that, it enabled me to look beyond the options that were presented to me in that system, and that’s what sort of led me to my next job, which was in finance, as a venture capital finance person working in medical devices. And that sort of opened me up to the whole business world.
When I was there – and I was really there for idealistic reasons, thinking that I could help to discover the next great medical technology that might change the game or a particular field in medicine — I was having a conversation with a colleague who was also a MD, who had been in venture finance for 15 years, so he was older than me. I remember talking, and he asked me, “What’s your number, Lisa?” I said “What do you mean?” He said “You know, everybody in this business has a number. We're in this to get to a particular number – so what is it? Twenty million, 50 million, 100 million?” And he was talking dollars.
I was just stunned, because I didn’t really go into it for that reason. I was not going after a number. He said “Because when you get to your number, then you’re done. That’s what we’re all here to do.” I just really couldn’t believe it, and I said “Well, you know, what if you don’t get to your number? How do you reconcile living your life for this thing that might not happen?”
The conversation evolved to the point where we were talking about what we would do if we had the number. I heard myself say out loud, completely unexpectedly “If I had my 20 million, I would open a violin school.” It totally surprised me to hear me say this, because I had sort of put away that dream that I had when I was four years old to be like my violin teacher who taught me from age four to 17. We went on concert tours, and I played at Carnegie Hall when I was eight years old, and the Kennedy Center, and Moscow when I was 14 — just a lot of world-class experiences at a very young age — and yet I was sort of told not to pursue music as a profession because it was not as reliable a way to make a living.
And so to hear myself say that I would do this, it really woke me up to something that I had been putting off, saying that, you know, I have to just make all this money or whatever it was, do this career, and then do the things that I really dreamed about doing. And that moment really indicated to me that there was something else that I could be doing with my life that was from a more passionate place. So actually, within a few months, I resigned from my job and moved to California and opened the violin school. It was pretty quick after that conversation.
Toni: It sounds to me the way you’re describing yourself and your story is that it really was … your breakout moment was when you realized you had freedom of choice. And when you had freedom of choice, that created your freedom.
Lisa: Yeah. Yeah, I think that’s a great observation, and I think it’s been an unfolding, because it’s been sort of small realizations. It’s like, what’s the next door that I’m going to open? It didn’t just all open up at once. This sort of progression that you hear in my story, you know, even continues.
I mean, my violin school was based on the classical training that I got when I was growing up. It was basically the model of teaching that I had received. And what surprised me in the school – I had it for five-and-a-half-years — it was successful. I brought my kids on concert tour every year. It was a very intense program, just like the one that I came up through, and I realized that it was not giving back to me in the way that I expected, because here I was living my dream, right?
It was supposed to be a dream, and to experience what was essentially burnout from that after five years was really stunning to me, and going through that physical exhaustion that I experienced, which was a result of basically taking full responsibility for everyone and everything that happened in the school, my life brought me two things: The field of life coaching, which I discovered … it just sort of appeared in my life, there is no other way to explain that, and a program in music healing. Both modalities I have actually been training in myself for the last year, and that’s really opened me to this other whole realm of freedom that I never knew up until this point.
I started doing improvised music for the first time in my life. I’m now recording a CD of all improvised music. I had never played anything prior to last year that was not written down or that I had not heard before. And so, to even realize that I could create music is this latest opening for me, and it just … it’s brought me another level of joy that I never imagined before.
To read the entire transcript or hear the complete recording, visit The Get Inspired! Project.