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The violin prodigy: an inspiring story about passion

We are often discouraged from doing what we love, but through this anecdote we learn one of the top reasons why – the fire.

We are often discouraged from doing what we love, but through this anecdote we learn one of the top reasons why - the fire.


I’m a writer, I’m writing, I write!*

This anecdote from Lawrence Block’s guide for fiction writing is an amazing inspiration to me and I wanted to share it with you. Many people are struggling right now and are being told to jump ship, but I hope this story tells you whatever it is that you need to hear if you hare having a tough time (as most people I know right now are).

There have been many things in my life I was discouraged to do, namely writing. I was first published at age 10, wrote competitively through high school and began writing digitally in college where I graduated Sigma Tau Delta with a B.A. in English Literature from UT (and now ignore all of the rules in order to blog with the overly enjoyable stream of consciousness method). Had I listened to those in my life that considered my writing a hobby, none of you guys would know me and I wouldn’t be lucky enough to know you and I would be a professional bowler or whatever.

The violin prodigy story

A young violin prodigy was walking down the street one day trying to decide whether or not to pursue a life in music when he came upon the most famous violin teacher in the world. Scarcely believing his luck, he stopped the great teacher and asked if he could play for him, thinking he would abandon his dream of a career in music if the great teacher told him he was wasting his time.

The greater teacher nodded silently for him to begin. So he played, beads of sweat soon appearing on his forehead, and when he finished, he was certain he’d given his finest performance. But the great maestro only shook his head sadly and said, “You lack the fire.”

The young musician was devastated. Nevertheless, he returned home and announced his intention to abandon the violin. Instead, he entered the world of business and turned out to have such a talent for it that in a few short years he found himself richer than he’d ever imagined possible.

Almost a decade later he found himself walking down another street in another city when he happened to spot the great teacher again. He rushed over to him. “I’m so sorry to bother you,” he said, “and I’m sure you don’t remember me, but I stopped you on the street years ago to play my violin for you, and I just want to thank you. Because of your advice, I abandoned my greatest love, the violin, painful as it was, and became a businessman and today enjoy great success, which I owe all to you. But one thing you must tell me: how did you know I didn’t have what it takes? How did you know all those years ago I lacked the fire?”

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The great teacher shook his head sadly and said only, “You don’t understand. I tell everyone who plays for me they lack the fire. If you had the fire, you wouldn’t have listened.”

*PS: $2.00 to the person who understands this movie reference….

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Dan Connolly

    October 6, 2009 at 12:37 am

    I think that one of the things that separates successful people from people who can’t make it is that successful people don’t listen to the naysayers.

    I have a friend who is struggling. He lost his business and can’t find a job. The biggest problem he has is that when he starts thinking about doing something new or going back to school to learn some new skill there is always someone who will tell him that there is too much competition, that the market is saturated, that he is under qualified, that the courses are too difficult and he gives up before he even gets started.

  2. Axon

    October 6, 2009 at 12:56 am

    Baby steps through the blog, baby steps scrolling down the page and I’m taking a vacation from my problems. Nice “What about Bob?” allusion! I appreciate the reminder regarding determination. I think the challange for most people is finding what they are truly passionate about. The kind of passion that endures the scoffs and scorns of social norms.

  3. Lani Rosales

    October 6, 2009 at 1:06 am

    Get the frick out, Axon- you got that reference? I thought no one would get it… now how to get this $2 to you….. 😉

  4. Joe Loomer

    October 6, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Awesome Lani – reminds me of Gary Keller’s story – broke, freshly divorced, but absolutely committed to the success of his unique brokerage model. Two bestsellers later he’s the leader of the third largest real estate firm in the country. If you persevere you’re either nuts or brilliant – your choice…. All it takes to make it is to succeed just once more than you fail…

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  5. Atlanta Real Estate

    October 6, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    It’s all about the effort.

    Another place you see this repeated a lot is in professional baseball, the MLB.

    My son is a serious junior baseball player, so I have studied this a little.

    If you read bio after bio they all have a common theme:

    -I never thought I was good enough
    -I thought about quitting
    -At some point, I decided to just GO FOR IT and practice 18 hours a day, seven days a week
    -Boom: PRO!

    Some people are slightly “more talented” than others but hard work and persistence more than makes up for this. Even in something as hard as Pro Baseball, where you might think it’s ALL about skills and gifts from God.


  6. Paula Henry

    October 6, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Lani – I love this story. It only takes a tiny spark to create a massive fire.

    Feed the spark!

  7. Missy Caulk

    October 6, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    I had not heard this story…but there are so many where folks were told to stop.

    I think of George Washington Carver, who invented hundreds of ways to use peanuts.

    He was discouraged all along the way. One day someone asked him how he it?

    He said, everyday I get up and ask God what I am to do that day and I go and do it.

  8. Axon

    October 6, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    $2 huh? Well I could send out a fleet of newspaper delivery boys on bikes, I hear they’re persistent. Though I’d settle for a comment on a blog post. I’d love to hear what you think-good or bad-feel free to pass along any tips or hints @

    Thanks for your work

  9. Gwen Banta

    October 7, 2009 at 12:29 am

    Lani, I am going to go home and burn the piles of rejection letters I have received on my novels. Thanks to your inspiring blog, you’ll be able to SEE my fire in Austin!

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