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Please note that Current of Life was previously published under the title: Living Your Potential

Living Your Potential

Real Life Models

Arturo Sandoval

An Undeniable Dream

In the biographical movie “For Love or Country” we learn about the life of the uniquely talented Cuban trumpet player, Arturo Sandoval.  Despite being raised in extreme poverty, Arturo realized his boyhood dream of becoming a musician.  He experienced popular success and critical acclaim while living in Cuba. (1)

Due to political repression, however, he was only allowed to play music prescribed by the state.  (In fact he was once jailed for nearly four months, just for listening to forbidden music.)  He responded by disguising jazz with traditional Cuban rhythms and in the process invented a new jazz genre.  After an unlikely and life-changing meeting with his hero, Dizzy Gillespie, he took a significant risk to pursue a better life where he could express his music without limitations.  In 1990, Arturo defected with his wife and young son and was granted political asylum in the United States.  He has won prestigious awards over the years, continues to perform internationally, and remains significantly involved in music education.

Looking back at his childhood and how others laughed at his dream of being a musician, he commented, “God had another plan.  He put music in my hand.  And the music saved my life.” (2)

Living Your Potential

Arturo Sandoval respected his gift: a deeply felt love of music and an extraordinary ability to play it.  His dream was about freeing the music and expressing himself (and not about chasing fame).  He withstood the delay of his dream and was open to opportunity even when it presented itself at inconvenient times. 

Arturo is a model of Living Your Potential for two reasons in particular.  He refused to settle and viewed it as an imperative —a mission even— to develop and share the talent he had been given.  As jazz pianist and composer Chick Corea commented,  “The thing that is most inspirational about Arturo is his incredible persistence with the quality of his life and of his music.” (2)

Who Are Your Real Life Models?

Arturo’s life reminds me not to settle for half a dream when faced with obstacles.  I shared this lesson recently at Toastmasters, passing along his inspiring story.  Now I’m looking forward to attending one of Arturo’s concerts, so I can experience his music and passion.  

Who comes to mind when you think of living your potential?  Who inspires you?  What about this person’s character do you admire?  How can this person’s example impact your life? 

When inspiration finds you, make it last!

Here's to you,
Ginny's signature

(1) For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story.  HBO films presents a Cineson Production in association with Jellybean Productions, Inc.  A Joseph Sargent film.  Andy Garcia, Mia Maestro, Gloria Estefan, David Paymer, and Charles S. Dutton.  Music by Arturo Sandoval.  Editor, Mike Brown.  Production Designer, Charles C. Bennett.  Director of Photography, Donald M. Morgan, A.S.C.  Produced by Celia Costas.  Executive Producers Andy Garcia, Jellybean Benitez.  Written by Timothy J. Sexton.  Directed by Joseph Sargent.   Copyright © 2001 Home Box Office, A Division of Time Warner Entertainment Company, L.P.  All Rights Reserved.

(2) The Making of For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story. Executive Producers: Sue Bailey, Stephen Mottram.  Copyright © 2000 Home Box Office, A Division of Time Warner Entertainment Company, L.P.  All Rights Reserved. 

If renting the DVD, be sure to watch the special feature (#2 above) which includes interesting background on the movie, as well as clips with Arturo Sandoval himself.

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© 2006, Virginia M. Kravitz and In the Current®. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to reproduce this article provided it is without any alteration, includes the copyright above, and if distributing electronically includes a link to

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