Meet my buddy, Charlie Clausing.
I’m apparently the only person to call him “Charlie.” To just about everyone else, he’s “Chachi,” as in “Joanie Loves.” That means his relatives call him that, his old friends call him that… and all the people who know him as an artist call him that. But we’ll come back to the artist thing in a minute.
Back in 2000, when I was 24, when I was fresh out of a gig working in a lab that I hated and that was giving me panic attacks, I got an hourly job as a barista in a Borders bookstore cafe, and Charlie was one of my co-workers. He knew me when I was a mess, when I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to do with my life, when I was broke. He knew me before I was Johnny B. Truant, after I’d written a novel and consigned it to my closet, having given up on it.
So when I ran into Charlie a while ago in a Toys R Us with one of his kids and he told me how he was still working that job he didn’t really like (but that paid the bills) and was killing time after work in the garage drinking beer and thinking about all of the projects — art, writing, music, you name it — that he wished he was pursuing with his time, I realized that shit had just gotten real.
See, I just released a manifesto called How To Be Legendary that’s all about becoming your maximally fulfilled self.
I just launched a community called Everyday Legendary, in which I teach lessons and guide discussions about becoming “Legendary” in various ways… and in which the amazing, motivated members hold each other accountable to the high standards they all hold for themselves and for each other.
It’s fair to say I’ve devoted this phase of my life — and this phase of my business — to nudging as many people to GET OFF THEIR ASSES, STOP BEING COMPLACENT, STOP SETTLING, AND LIVE as possible.
And that may be fine for Johnny B. online. But what about the less loud, less forceful person I am every day with my wife, my kids, my mother, and the people who have known me forever?
Well, there was a bit of a disconnect there. Let me explain.
Put up or shut up
I wrote How To Be Legendary for Charlie.
Not just Charlie, of course, but he was one of the main people I was thinking of when I was writing it. Dude is talented. Talented. He makes amazing art. He can do things with a computer in an hour, for the hell of it, that few people can do with hours and hours and hours. He can sculpt and paint and shape custom figures for games or from pop culture that people clamor for, that people would die for the opportunity to pay him for.
And yet he’s done nothing with all of this talent. NOTHING. (I’m not calling him out, by the way. We’ve discussed this.)
His brother is in a successful Irish punk band. Charlie has similar aspirations, yet sits down after work and watches TV. He’s got a children’s book that he’s been told to submit by legit decision-making folks in the publishing industry. People beg him for prints of his art. They beg him to sell the figures he makes, because they’re collector junkies and he does amazing work. Charlie sits at work and dreams, then does nothing at all with them.
Now here’s something to consider: Charlie might be you.
When I wrote How To Be Legendary, my ideal reader was Charlie… but also, it really wasn’t. Really it was written for people like Charlie because I made the horrible and unfair mistake of believing that I couldn’t affect positive change in the real Charlie — or in any of the people right around me “in my real life.”
I’d hoped I could motivate a few people out there who I didn’t yet have a personal relationship with — people who hadn’t known me when I was on the wrong path, when I’d just quit the only job I’d ever thought I might do for a living, when I was dirt broke and an inch away from panic at all times. But the people who knew me “for real”? Who was I, to them, to write a manifesto? Who did I think I was, if I expected them to take my advice?
I was a hypocrite, I guess.
Maybe you can relate. I’m not calling you a hypocrite, but I will say that I’ve known a lot of people who have great advice for others… but who can’t take their own advice. It’s as if we think we know what’s best for the people around us, but that advice somehow isn’t good enough for ourselves. Which is why we stay stuck.
When I say that Charlie might be you, I mean that you might have talents or aspirations that you know you could do something with… but you just don’t. And maybe that bugs you, like it bugged Charlie when he recognized himself in someone else I wrote about.
When I published a post a few weeks ago about another friend of mine (“Bill”) who’s a lot like Charlie, I got a message on my Facebook wall from Charlie that said, “Awesome. Now I want to eat a bullet.” He saw Bill’s conundrum and saw that it was a lot like his. And because I hadn’t revealed the punchline — the manifesto — yet, it kind of stopped there. The realization left him bummed out: conscious of what was going on, but powerless to do anything to change it.
Not that he meant that he literally wanted to eat a bullet (I did hop on that right away; give me that much credit), but I’d still moved someone close to me in the opposite direction than I’d wanted to move him.
And that meant that it was game on.
Chachi gets Legendary
I collected my balls and, with less actual confidence than I was trying to convey, told Charlie to read How To Be Legendary when it was released. I then closed the metaphorical door on that problem as best I could, feeling sure that someone who’d known me forever would of course not take my BIG BRAZEN MANIFESTO seriously and would keep on being depressed and desperate. But hey, I’d tried, and you can’t make a horse drink after you’d led it to water.
But the day after I released How To Be Legendary, I got another Facebook wall message saying that Charlie figured what the hell and had downloaded it. Then he asked a question, but before I could answer it, he was writing that he was halfway through the thing, reading it instead of working. Then, while I’m watching my son’s soccer practice that evening, my phone rings and it’s Charlie, and he’s… positive. Inspired.
Inspiration can be like a hot bath — pleasant, but then it dissipates and you’re cold again. But it was a start, so I did my best to keep it going. I set up a time to hang out.
We had coffee yesterday at the local Panera, and I made him an offer: Put up or shut up. He was already doing all this art, taking pictures of it with his phone, and posting it to Facebook. So I told him that if he bought a domain name, I’d have my assistant set up a blog for him and that I’d commit him publicly to using that blog by writing the post you’re currently reading.
Now, let’s ask some questions. Let’s get real.
Does my offer of a blog and a public commitment to use it get Chachi, the artist, out of the job that I know my buddy Charlie, the 3-D designer, would really rather not be working? No. Does it get him a nice side income? No, not yet, and maybe not ever. Does it get him fame and fortune? Nope.
But does it get him taking JUST ONE STEP in the right direction? Absolutely.
It’s just a beginning, and the game is still very much his to win or lose. I’m not so naive as to believe that this is now SOLVED and Charlie is inevitably on the way toward something great. He might fall off the wagon. His various ventures might hit serious setbacks. He might work that job for years while trying to extricate himself.
But it’s a step, and you can’t get anywhere until you take those first (or those “next”) steps. You have to keep taking those steps, and you have to stay inspired. You have to keep believing… or, if you’re a Journey fan, to “Don’t Stop Believing,” which is essentially the same thing.
So, to handle that last part and to try and keep him in the “Legendary” mindset, I also comped him a membership to Everyday Legendary. He’ll get in there and interact with all of the rest of us who are trying to be Legendary. He’ll stay in the possibility mindset, which will hopefully allow him to take the next step, and the next, and the next.
Associating with positive people who are on the same “awesome-making” path you are has a remarkable way of keeping you on that path. You need a reason to believe, and hopefully his involvement in the community will help with that.
So, yeah. Chachi… committed to stepping into his role as artist, here, in front of all of you.
Say hello to my little friend
(That’s a Scarface reference because Charlie is Cuban and I know he’ll appreciate it.)
If this story uplifts you a bit and if you’re feeling rah-rah for a dude who might finally be on the path toward his true talent and purpose, go over to his Facebook page and drop him an “attaboy” or something similarly positive.
AND, in the coming weeks, watch chachiclausing.com (which we know goes nowhere as of the day this post is published) and kick his ass if you continue to see nothing there, or if he slacks off. (UPDATE: ChachiClausing.com is now live and he’s implementing like a motherfucker!)
We’re all in this together, people.
Let’s keep nudging each other away from complacency, and toward our intended awesomeness.
(By the way, if you’d like to be “all in this together” with what’s become an amazing group of forward-and-upward-focused people, join us in the Everyday Legendary community. It’s stupidly cheap as far as “things that make you actually do the shit you should be doing” are concerned.)