There’s Only One Note You Came to Sing. ~ Tama Kieves {Book Excerpt}

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Dreams. Stars.

Excerpted from “Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work!” (Tarcher/Penguin).

I listen to creative minds, visionaries, and entrepreneurs all day long in my coaching practice and I am moved by the spirit that moves them.

Like you, they bounce off walls with ambition, hunger, and frustration. They secretly dream big, because they are big. Still they whisper their most meaningful desires, swallowing hard, as though they are confessing, say, a small hygiene problem or a third head.

“I don’t even know if I’ll ever have what I want,” they say.

But I do. I know they are relentlessly drawn to where they belong.

We don’t choose our wildest dreams. They choose us.

They point us toward our natural environment. When we’re not using our deepest gifts, we can feel like trout thrashing about on a dock desperate to find water. It’s that necessary to live our calling.

“You’re just so restless,” my mother, a torch-bearing worshipper of security, used to say to me.

I thought wanting to “be all you can be” in life was a good thing, not a personality disorder to cover up with a TV Guide, or a tri-level house in Long Island. But, like many inspired souls, I’ve often felt lonely in my consistent desire for true expression.

I’d envy those who could kick back in “normal” lives, enjoy a few burgers at a backyard barbecue and some nice, conventional success. They’d fix a garage door, buy a house at the lake, or take a cruise to Alaska, and that would be enough.

They didn’t wrestle with some unnamable gravitational pull, a colony of inner voices or the secret claustrophobia of their own trapped potential. They didn’t need to change the world, chant some mantra, become a brand or win a Pulitzer or a Grammy.

In other words, they could just turn on the news. They didn’t need to be the news.

But a therapist of mine once said she believed my “restlessness” was an essential prerequisite for progress and abundance. Therapists always say these things, serving up hot cocoa for the soul and wiping our chins, which is why we pay them half our gross income.

She explained how restlessness wouldn’t let me fall asleep to the presence of my gifts, and the difference I could make in the world.

She saw longing as a wonderful capacity to “stay attuned to what my Inspired Self wanted to become.”

Just so you know, this is why I’ve never fit in at barbecues. I just can’t talk to a financial analyst or a plumber in a Hawaiian shirt and get the words “attune” and “pass the dogs” into the same sentence.

“You want more,” said my wise counselor, “because you are more. There’s more in this lifetime for you to become.”

And that’s what I’ll tell you. You have more to give us. You have a built-in, divine assignment to employ all your gifts and to realize your exponential capacity.

Your inspired self has bigger fish to fry and it doesn’t perceive any of the limitations that you do. That’s why it graciously kicks you in the ribs at night and tells you to stop dreaming small. Your desire is the full moon that stirs and pulls the tide. It’s compelling because it’s more real than anything else.

You dream of the life that calls you because everything under the sun is hardwired to know where it belongs. You don’t need reasons or evidence when your bones trill with longing. Birds and fish just migrate. Everything living seeks to unfurl its own true nature.

I remember talking to my friend Angela one night. I felt suspicious of my own desire to take my creativity to the next level. I wondered if I’d just watched one too many Oprah shows. Or maybe I wanted bigger success because I was still hunting for approval or love, admittance into some elusive club, an addict on a spree. Hey, I’d been to therapy.

“I wish I could say I wanted to help the world, like Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela, and that’s why I was doing this,” I said to Angela. I did want to help, but that didn’t seem to be the fuel in my engine.

“Well, why are you doing this?” she said with a voice full of love and confidence, encouraging me to sound out possible truths. I cringed as I pinpointed a slippery feeling in the back of my consciousness, something crouching and uncomfortable.

“I want to win,” I said to her, and it felt so ugly and unenlightened, competitive and calculating. Goodbye, Dalai Lama, enter the beast with beady eyes. “I want to win,” I said again. Having confessed it, I decided to explore that naked desire more.

“It’s not that I want tons of money,” I said (though of course I’d welcome a padded bank account).

“What is it?” she said gently. “

It’s not that I want fame, though I wouldn’t mind it,” I admitted.

“Then what is it?” she repeated.

Finally, I felt an encrusted door swing open inside me. I said, “I want to win because I think I have a home run in me.”

Everything within me relaxed. “It’s just the note I came to sing,” I said.

Then my words and tears just flowed.

“I want to be big. I want to be known. It’s the level of expression that I feel like my talent was made for. It’s my note,” I said, looking into her soft brown eyes. “It’s the only note that will feel real to me.”

Then she repeated back to me, “It’s just the note you came to sing.”

Suddenly my desire didn’t seem so evil or garish anymore. Suddenly it wasn’t narcissistic, slimy, or base.

It was just the truth.

It felt as natural as the inclination to write with my right hand, and love red maple leaves and coffee ice cream, or hate sauerkraut, humidity, and anyone, anywhere, who could wear Lycra and look decent. It felt neutral and ordinary and even involuntary.

I realized then that we don’t get to choose our calling. We get to choose whether or not we will listen to each nudge or flare, whether or not we will believe, and whether or not we will dedicate ourselves to this territory of homecoming within us; but we don’t get to choose which doorway has our name on it, which one swings open for us, into the wild country of heightened capacities, love and awe.

Suddenly this need for boundless expression and a sweeping life was no longer about my ego. It was about my integrity. It was about staying true to the evolving, amazing life force within. It was simple. I needed to breathe fire so that I could breathe.

I urge you to stay true to your integrity. I urge you to listen to what only you know inside.

You dream big because you’re called. Say yes to the ride. You belong in the life of your dreams. And you don’t belong anywhere else.


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Tama Kieves

Tama Kieves is an honors graduate of Harvard Law School who left her law practice to write and help others discover and soar in the work they’re meant to do. She is the bestselling author of This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love”and her new book “Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work!,”which hit #1 on Amazon for career books. Featured in USA Today and on Oprah radio, she is a sought-after speaker and career/success coach, who has helped thousands world-wide to discover, launch, and thrive in the life, calling and businesses of their dreams. Join her daily on Facebook & visit her website and download her Free “Inspired Power Tool Kit“ for free coaching support for the amazing life that you are meant to live.

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anonymous Jul 15, 2014 12:18pm

I have been fortunate enough to meet Tama at one of her fabulous classes. I have been inspired by her books, blogs and classes and she shines in person. I am working on my own shine!

anonymous Jul 15, 2014 4:22am

Reading Tama is like wearing my favorite, comfortablest, old pair of sweatpants. Without the sweat. Whenever I read Tama I feel so at home, in me. Then one of my internal voices rises above the din and goes, "What are you thinking? Are you insane"? And for one brief moment I'm able to go. Shhh. It's ok Bubbele. Everything's just as it should be!

anonymous Jul 13, 2014 10:33am

"I thought wanting to “be all you can be” in life was a good thing, not a personality disorder to cover up with a TV Guide, or a tri-level house in Long Island. But, like many inspired souls, I’ve often felt lonely in my consistent desire for true expression." I really related to this Tama.. Many of the people in my life are content with this life.. however I always felt a longing for something else.. I never felt comfortable at the barbeques either having small talk.. I wanted deeper conversations about why people quit their 9-5 jobs and were starting their own businesses.. creative souls who wanted to paint and write because they were pulled to do it.. thank you for your inspiring words and helping others not feel alone..

anonymous Jul 13, 2014 9:22am

Thank you Tama! Your words and courageous spirit are inspiring! I am forever grateful to you for leading me from darkness into light. I have learned that you don't have to follow the path paved for you by society, family, and ego's expectations. There is another path – alive, fulfilled, joyous and free. This article is a must-read for everyone longing to express their highest self and pursue their dreams.

anonymous Jul 13, 2014 7:10am

Ahhhhh thank you! I’ve read it before( and listen to it on audio “tapes” ) but still tears if truth pop ( as I read in public) wow stop! Just now as I finished that sentence two screening hawks danced and swam in the winds overhead! They always do that! When I am doubting myself and the desire to just be ” normal” pounds on my head they come to remind me! And when I read beautiful pieces like Tama’s they come to say YES YOU!!

Ha see its magic ! Thanks Tama to alway being the voice of my kind of reason

anonymous Jul 13, 2014 6:31am

Beautiful article. Tama, your words always speak to my soul. Thank you for this inspiration!

anonymous Jul 12, 2014 10:32pm

This really touched me, and it was, of course, exactly what I needed to hear today. Tama, you've done it again – fed my soul and inspired me. Thank you.

anonymous Jul 12, 2014 9:19pm

Fantastic piece! Thanks Elephant Journal for sharing such great writers.

anonymous Jul 12, 2014 5:14pm

Tama – as always, you’re an inspiration!!

anonymous Jul 12, 2014 5:07pm

Absolutely amazing , gifted and intuitive writer. Thanks Tama.

anonymous Jul 12, 2014 5:02pm

I love Tama…she is one of my greatest teachers ,It is so wonderful to see her here. Tama, you have inspired, raised me up and held me up in the hard places for years now. Thank you for what you do!!

anonymous Jul 12, 2014 4:10pm

Loved this article! Inspirational to say the least!

anonymous Jul 12, 2014 4:08pm

Ahhhh, what a fabulous reminder that there IS a unique note, ok, an entire SONG, that I AM here to SING!! Thank you Elephant Journal for sharing this amazing message from one of my all time FAVE writers, visionaries & sources of INSPIRATION.

anonymous Jul 12, 2014 2:57pm

Another home run, from one of my personal favorites! Tama's written expressions torch my inner fire… every time. She is like the spark that ignites every cell within me to be the amazing, fully expressed, unapologetic, bad-ass spiritual avatar that I, too, came here to be. Her brilliance, authenticity, exceptional and vibrant articulation soothe my soul…. she is Divine Nectar for a thirsty world. Her restless Spirit provides guidance to many of us who attempt to water ourselves down…. like restlessness is a disease. Our culture tends to find fault with restlessness…. when in Truth, to be anything else is a death trap. I celebrate every thread of Tama's work. She consistently opens me up in unexpected ways with her deep truths and humanity. Her words are not of this world…. and I thank God for her audacity and inspiration. Every time I feel like I have shut down my dreams (again), living with one foot in the employedpreneur world, and one foot in my entrepreneurial/artist/wilderness/wild beast/dreamer/writer/life coach/author/workshop leader/bad-ass warrior world, the foot living firmly in who I am as an artist wins. Every single time I read her. She is Nectar for my Thirsty Soul.

    anonymous Jul 12, 2014 4:02pm

    Lori, well I am moved and thrilled and now need to get busy writing MORE inspiration for powerful souls like YOU. I love being your "bad-ass spiritual avatar" and may just need to get that on my license plate. But meanwhile, i give you license dear one to SOAR and do what you're meant to do! with LOVE, Tama

      anonymous Jul 12, 2014 8:29pm

      Brilliant! Thank you…. so much. <3