What’s your purpose? (No. Really. Think about it.)

There is no escaping reason; no denying purpose. Because as we both know, without purpose, we would not exist.

– Agent Smith, The Matrix

I haven’t been writing much lately. That’s because I’ve been writing.

See, I feel a little guilty about not posting often enough on my blog. I’ve gotten a few emails, basically saying, “Where are you?” and “What are you up to?” and honestly, it’s flattering that anyone would care. When you start blogging, you assume that everyone will hang on your every word, waiting with bated breath for every new post. Then you realize that for the most part, you could drop off the face of the earth and nobody would notice. So yeah, it’s cool that people have asked.

But the truth is that while it may look like I’ve been ignoring my blogging responsibilities (whatever that means), the truth is that I haven’t been writing here because I’ve been writing — writing more than ever — elsewhere. I haven’t forgotten you; I’ve been saving up the mojo I’d normally deliver so as to deliver it later in one big hit. All of those awesome blog posts you’re missing? The brain juice that would normally go into them is going into one big thing — one masterpiece that I’ve been working on for months. One Big Kahuna.

And soon, I’m going to deliver said Big Kahuna, here, for free.

I’ve been told that my posts awaken people’s desires to “do epic shit,” and if that’s true, then tighten your seat belt, because it’s about to get epicer. Epicified. Epiclicious.

But before we talk about that, let’s talk about you. Really YOU, at the deepest level possible.

Let’s talk about why you’re here at all.

You must have a purpose

I swear that all of life’s answers are in the film The Matrix. So let’s heed Agent Smith’s advice, such as it is. Without purpose, we would not exist — not in any way that matters. But with purpose? With a mission? With both hands on the steering wheel? Well with that, hell… you can live forever.

So stop right now and ask yourself why you do what you do each day. Really think about it.

When you get up and go to work — be it in an office or at home — why are you doing it? Maybe it’s because you need money to pay the mortgage. Maybe it’s because you need money to eat. Fair enough; we live in a material world and we are all material girls (and guys).

Now, step back. Why do you do the specific job you do? Meaning; why are you doing that instead of something else? Is it because it’s what you always wanted to do? Is it because you’re making a difference in the world? Or is it because it was the only job you could find? Is it because you “kind of fell into it”? Is it because it’s what your parents expected you to do, or because you had a major in X in college and figured a job in X was therefore the only logical next step?

Hmm.

Now, pull back further. What are your big goals for yourself and, if you have one, your family? What did you want to be when you grew up, and why did you want that? What do you want your legacy to be? How do you want to be remembered after you’re gone? What do you want your kids’ memories of you to be? When you’re old, looking back on your life, what would you like to be proud that you accomplished?

Don’t just scan these questions. Stop and think about each one.

I’m serious. After I wrote my first epic post, people said, That’s awesome, but how do you do those epic things?

This is how. Trust me.

Stop and think about your purpose, because almost nobody ever does. Day to day life has a way of hypnotizing us. Have you ever set out for a certain destination in your car and missed a turn because you’ve zoned out and your brain is taking you the way you usually go, like to the grocery store? This is the same phenomenon. It’s really easy to lose track of the big whys while following your autopilot.

So I’ll ask you, again, at the risk of being annoying, to really stop and think.

Why do you do what you do? What is your purpose? Not the purpose you think you should have, or the purpose appropriate to what you already have going on (“I am the CEO of a major company, therefore I am responsible for XYZ”). Don’t do “therefore.” Don’t start with where you are and reverse-engineer the purpose you therefore must have in life. Start at the top. Start with why you’d like to be here, regardless of where you actually are right now. Think of your ideal purpose. What you think you were truly meant to be, or, in the absence of some huge epiphany, what you’d LIKE to be, if you could be anything.

Got it?

Now, is it aligned with what you’re doing every day?

And if it’s not, are you implementing a plan every day to bring those two things closer and closer into alignment?

Usually, the answers to those questions are both no. And when they’re both no, it’s because the people behind those no’s don’t think their “deep purpose” is realistic in today’s world of cars and houses and currencies. There’s dreams and then there’s real life, these people say. I wanted a unicorn, too… but we need to face reality.

But what if I told you that reality isn’t all it’s purported to be?

Why I do what I do

This blog has been about a lot of stuff. When I first started, it was a humor blog. Then it became a tech tips blog. Then it became a business blog. Finally, in the last few years, I seem to have settled into writing what I term “epic shit.” I write posts with depressing titles that hopefully have get-off-your-fucking-ass-now-before-it’s-too-late bottom-line messages, like The Universe Doesn’t Give a Flying Fuck About You and You Are Dying and Your World is a Lie. It may look like I’m a masochist, like I’m obsessed with death and pain and being extreme. Recently, I realized why. It dawned on me why I keep telling you that you’re dying a little every day, and that one day — sooner than you realize — you’ll be underground.

It’s because I care.

Let me tell you a sad story.

I ran into an old friend recently, who we’ll call Bill. Bill has two kids and I don’t think he enjoys them, because he’s doing the same job that he was doing the last time I saw him years ago and still doesn’t like it, and it takes up all of his time and he’s still barely making ends meet, and at night he’s tired and can only collapse in front of the TV before getting up to do it again the next day. He’s a creative, smart guy, but can’t seem to make a go of his creative endeavors. He has some ideas, and I wanted to encourage him to do those things. But the problem was, I could tell he didn’t really believe any of them would ever work. He was a shipwreck survivor alone in the middle of the ocean, saying “Maybe a ship will come save me” because he has to say something… and meanwhile he’s writing his will in his head.

I wanted to encourage Bill, but it’s not that simple because his current ideas are not whiz-bang tickets to freedom even if they work. They’re the tip of the iceberg. They’re a beginning — and a beginning is a fantastic, amazing, beautiful, magical thing. But no matter how Bill’s “beginnings” turn out, it’ll be up to him to have the courage to take the next step once they’re over.

I wanted to tell Bill that a beginning was worth it no matter what happened. That perseverence mattered more than any one event. That the ability to manufacture a distant light at the end of a very long tunnel was what really made the difference. But how do you tell someone — casually, in a ten-minute, how’ve-you-been conversation — that his venture probably would fail and that it’d still be worth it? How do you tell someone who has no real reason to believe that he should make those doomed beginnings anyway because the road to success is paved with failures?

When we parted ways, I wished him good luck, but I knew nothing would happen. He probably wouldn’t even try what he said he wanted to try, and if he did try and it didn’t work (and by “work,” I mean work entirely, getting him 100% of the way there) he’d quit. Then he’d keep doing the job and not having the time and not enjoying his kids as much as he should, and he’d accept it because he’s a good soldier in the army of life and knows he should be grateful for what he has because so many have less. He’d know, as everyone knows, that some people are lucky and some are not. That we get what we get and we don’t throw a fit.

But this is a lie. It’s a big, big lie.

We think certain things “just are” and that we need to “settle and face reality.” But it’s a lie. What you think is real isn’t real. You’re living by bogus rules, bogus limitations. Almost anything you can be or do or have, you can be or do or have. The reason most people never get what they want is because they believe so firmly that it’s impossible that they never start — never realizing that if they started anyway and kept at it, one day they’d wake up to discover that they’d done it.

The reason I do what I do is because I want to expose the lies we live by to the Bills of the world — even if I have to shake them by the shoulders and slap them around to get it to sink in.

We think we need more how-to, but we don’t. We already know how. What we need are tools like courage, strength, optimism, fear, and fearlessness.

I’ve written a lot of stuff that is intended to wake people up to the realities of existence and to help dispel the bullshit, but something more is needed. Something bigger.

My legacy. For you.

When I say that I want to make a difference — that it makes me sad to run into people like Bill and that I’m doing what I’m doing because I want to be remembered as having made a difference — I’m telling you the truth. I have other ways I can make money. At this point, I really don’t even need the blog.

I haven’t been writing much here, on this blog, because I’m writing what I feel is as definitive a guide as I can write on the topic of seizing the day until it screams. It’s going to be called How To Be Legendary, and it’ll be available soon.

The first part of How To Be Legendary is about the lies you’ve been sold on, and the real truths behind them.

The second part is a stepwise procedure for achieving anything, based on a simple premise: You don’t need me to teach you anything. You just need to do what you already know, and to do it every day. (And by the way, that really is the central idea. You don’t even need to download the book now that you’ve read the last two sentences. Achievement is simple. Not easy, but simple.)

One more thing: How To Be Legendary will be free.

So that’s what I’ve been working on. That’s why I haven’t been blogging much. I haven’t been giving you small snippets on being awesome because I’ve been busy rolling all of that awesomeness into one big punch. The knockout punch, hopefully, designed to unplug you from the matrix.

And with this, I hope to make my difference.

Stay tuned.

—-

UPDATE: My manifesto How To Be Legendary: A Realistic Guide to Being the Superhuman You’re Supposed to Be is now available, for free. And if you’d like some guidance and to have your feet held to the fire in your pursuit of becoming Legendary, be sure to check out my Everyday Legendary community. 


Comments

  1. Thanks for putting words to what I was feeling. So glad to know I’m not crazy (or alone) in believing that it is worthwhile to pursue something that by-all-other-accounts is not likely to amount to anything significant.

    • Johnny says:

      Just remember: this could mean that we’re both crazy.

      • Marina says:

        Dear Mr T (definitely makes me think about Reservoir dogs),
        Fell on your blog while i was searching the web, looking for a way to associate my favourite obsession (The Matrix), with my brand new coaching blog.
        Since a few years i wanted to put that online… But here you are, so now i am a bit puzzled about the way i am going to go on 🙂 discovering that somebody else did it , and in a great way. Well, i am convinced that I’ll find mine, but wanted to tell you that you did a damn good job here 🙂 and my obession won’t be taken away .. From now on i’ll read and apply every word/action i can grab from here, and my trainer coach was saying, make your own recipe with what you learn… Thank you to simply exist. I’ll find a lot of bones to chew in here…, myblog will be in frenglish, anyway, but now i ahve to act and do the job:)
        Marina

  2. Yes, yes, YES! This is exactly what I begin all of my coaching/mentoring sessions with. Just the other day, I was talking with a potential client about his website and found out he had another one where he blogged about his true passion. When I asked him why we weren’t talking about THAT website, he answered, “Because I just couldn’t see a way to make money from it.” After our 20 min conversation was over, he was facing the right direction again and happy as a clam. Possibilities, people! Don’t give up on your purpose/passion. Find a way to make it happen. Persevere!

    • Johnny says:

      It’s tricky. I do tend to hedge my bets about telling people to follow their passions as, say, their sole source of income. I don’t think that all passions necessarily can generate income, but I do think you can move in just about any direction if you take your time and put in the hard work. So I guess it’s about striking a balance and always, always keeping your eye on the ball.

  3. stu says:

    I`ve read a LOT of your stuff now Mr T.
    I cannot wait for this next freebie. Im suffering after having finished the baily pimps. Need another JBT literary fix!

  4. Brian says:

    Johnny,

    Great post! You hit the nail dead on. Today is the second day of the rest of my life…meaning I have finally been able to lose the chains of the “real world” and now work exclusively for the business my wife and I started. We started it to make our life better. To have more time with our kids. To be in control. We were like your friend Bill and the only difference is we took action.

    It’s been almost 5 years since I first started exploring how to use the internet as a tool to better my own life. And that guy 5 years ago would look at me now and be SO jealous. But the truth is, I still work REALLY hard. There is no easy button. You’re right….do what you know and do it everyday. I would add, keep on learning. But don’t let the learning distract you from taking action! Don’t worry so much about the path and the obstacles you see ahead, because the path will change – it will have curves and dips and speedbumps…..you just have to KEEP ON GOING!

    I am looking forward to How to be Legendary. I also need to thank you for the part you have played in getting me off my ass. I still revisit QTR from time to time when my Faith or Belief feels like it is waivering. Your blog posts are almost always an inspiration.

    Thanks and keep up the EPIC shit!

    • Johnny says:

      Exactly: it took five years. A lot of people do seem to think that this is about instant results, and that’s a big part of what poisons most people’s goals. Remember that the lack of instant success doesn’t mean that you’re not moving somewhere, and will get there in time.

  5. Johnny, I love this post because when I can write this well I will be a greater force for making a positive difference in the world. We both share a passion for encouraging the best in others and ourselves. This is inspiring. Your writing is a true gift of to all who read it. Thank you so much.

    Update for me. Thanks to you and Jon. I have focused on guest posting and have had three in the last week. Today I am at Positively Positive http://www.positivelypositive.com/2012/08/14/the-magic-of-pure-optimism/

  6. Johnny,

    It makes me sad too to run into the “Bill’s” of the world who think that people who live the lives they want are lucky. You’re so right that none of us need any more “how-to.” We just need to do-do. ( I have to remind myself of this on occasion.)

    You are absolutely making a difference. That is life’s greatest accomplishment.

    Thanks for keeping us on track to what matters in this world.

    • Johnny says:

      I think that a lot of it is about conscious tradeoffs. Some people think “I want my perfect life AND I want things to remain exactly as they are now, otherwise.” But sometimes, it makes sense to make the exchange: one so-so thing for other great things.

  7. Lennon Craig says:

    Good Johnny! The matrix is a sense to seperate one’s from bean capsole in distruction the people are the universe and some us today know not what is going on; thank you possitive vibes.

  8. Shawn Tuttle says:

    Love love love the Matrix. And Purpose. And living like each day matters, like each decision matters, like each action matters. Because what is life if not what we do?

  9. Amy Wright says:

    I can’t wait to see the upcoming amazingness that will be hitting our inboxes soon. Excited. Giddy, you might say. 🙂

  10. You know how your heart beats a bit faster when you’re reading something really cool and inspirational? You just gave mine a workout reading this post, so I’m guessing How to Be Legendary will benefit my cardio fitness as well as the rest of my life.

  11. andrea says:

    Looking forward to it…

  12. Riin Gill says:

    Legendary! That’s the word I was looking for! My purpose is to be a legendary fiber artist!
    Looking forward to your How To!

  13. So What is Epic, Anyway?

    Is it just me, or has anyone else felt this? It seems there’s a hierarchy on the web–those who post about internet marketing & making money online seem to be the big kahunas, neck & neck w/those who post articles about overcoming mediocrity & achieving greatness. Much of anything else, seems, well, not as glorious, not as sexy, & therefore not as lucrative.

    To my mind, there’s a great deal of incongruity & just plain F’ed-upness in society’s values. It seems people forget that in order to make great posts, the technology has to exist, & that means someone had to build it. The public restroom you expect to be clean did not in fact clean itself–someone on hands and knees cleaned that toilet so you could take care of business without wondering what unwanted gift you might acquire in the process. The webmaster who hosts & installs blogs & helps folks w/their websites, thereby allowing others to find their voice, who works silently behind the scenes so others can go public–why does society view these hard-working, humble servants as somehow not doing epic shit? The result is that many feel they should be doing more w/their lives, when, in fact, their servanthood should be elevated, because it’s they, in fact, who contribute value & lend strength to the overall fabric of society. The fact that athletes are paid more than those who teach our children, singers are paid more than those who protect & serve, & film stars receive more reverence than those who raise future generations simply serves to highlight the point. Epic shit is not in the eyes of society–indeed, society tends to emphasize the wrong things. Epic shit is in getting up each morning, doing the right things each day, & making society a better place because you graced the planet. These are the people who are truly doing epic shit, & society should glorify their service, not make them feel they should be or do something more. I think, truth be told, that many people are discontented with their lives & feel they have no purpose simply because society has told them that’s so for so loud & so long they simply believe it. They don’t believe their servanthood matters–they don’t think that what they’re doing is truly epic shit–when, in actuality, nothing could be further from the truth.

    I wish you a great deal of success with your book, Johnny. I’m sure it will be awesome. But somewhere, somehow, I hope you’ll see fit to pay tribute to those everyday people doing epic shit, even though they don’t feel they are. Thanks for listening.

    • Johnny says:

      Thanks for raising this point, Jackie. This is actually a point I make in legendary book itself. I believe that “legendary” is something that you define personally, meaning nobody else can define it for you. I do agree that in today’s society, we do have a tendency to accept as “legendary” or “epic” things that have to do with money, or traditional success, or high achievement, or whatever. So it’s easy to look at people who have a lot of money, or have a big job title, or have created some big movement, or create a masterpiece as being the “epic ones.” But, I don’t think that’s all that is legendary.

      “Legendary” is about rising to your potential and to your dreams. If you’ve undersold yourself, then I don’t care how much you “achieve,” I don’t think that’s a truly legendary existence. But if you perform to the very top of your ability, I think that’s legendary even if what you have achieved doesn’t look like much by other people’s standards.

      I think that there can be legendary mothers, legendary service workers, legendary bookkeepers, and legendary nurses. It isn’t about our society’s definitions of success. It’s about our own, and how well we live up to those standards that we set for ourselves.

      One of the quotes I really like is by Herodotus, and goes like this: “Call no man happy until he’s dead.” It means that until the big clock stops ticking, you can never know whether somebody had a happy life or not. It is death that puts a cap on it, and makes the final decision.I think it’s also true of being legendary. You can’t know if you had a legendary existence until your existence is over, and you can’t know it other than YOU knowing it… and not somebody else.

      I hope that makes sense. Thank you for raising the point, because a materialistic or traditional definition of “success” is definitely not what I want to advocate. Those things have a tendency to put people in other people’s shoes… and those shoes more often than not don’t fit.

    • Johnny says:

      Ooh, wait. Thought of more:

      The point you make about someone making a life better — and hence being “epic” In a way — just by being nice or kind or compassionate is a very good one, and one I’ve tried to make subtly before.

      When I was in college, there was a worker in the foodservice line, where we college kids lined up to get our food. he was incredibly friendly and I always feel good — you might even say “uplifted” — after having talked to that guy in just a very casual way while getting my pizza or chicken fingers or whatever the hell else was on the menu that day. Here’s a guy, in probably a minimum wage position… yet he’s totally cool and totally improving the lives of the people that he touches. If one of the definitions of “epic” is that you make a difference, I would call that man “epic” in at least the capacity that I saw him.

      • Citizen Zeus says:

        Yes, to being “epic” according to your own highest purpose instead of settling. Yes, to being “epic” in serving others and improving the world and not simply serving yourself. But also, yes, to being “epic” by being excellent at what you do, by developing an appreciation and fluency in a craft, a labor of love.

        This can be humble in the eyes of others. I used to just love splitting wood. Frankly it made me feel powerful and heroic, it served our family’s need for fuel for our wood stove, and it did have a craft and an excellence to it.

        Reading the grain of the wood, coordinating the body, grace and power, and that “crack” of a well-slung maul. And always being in the now, focusing, concentrating force, and rending the wood.

        Rhythm onward to the next piece, putting it on end, contemplating it for a few brief seconds, swinging overhead, and splitting it asunder like a bolt from Thor (or Zeus).

        And not a single note of approval from another human being. Not a single accolade. All the excellence encompassed in the successful completion of an action and an expression one’s nature and delight. Now that’s epic.

        • Johnny says:

          Agreed, and all in line with “How to be Legendary.” You’ll definitely want to check that out when it’s done!

  14. Pam Belding says:

    Fan-fucking-tastic! I’m really looking forward to it! Thanks Johnny!

  15. DAMN THE TORPEDOES! FULL SPEED AHEAD!

  16. Thanks Johnny, this was more timely than words can express! Rock on!

  17. Linda Caroll says:

    This is for Jackie. I agree that society has some messed up values. I also believe defining “epic” is personal. My daughter works in health care, caring for seniors with aggravated last-stage dementia. Every day, she’s changing colostomy bags & depends and bathing people whose minds have been stolen from them. Some days they hug her and other days they hit and scratch.

    Now, if *I* was doing that work, I would not feel like I was doing epic shit. But she does. She really, really does.

    And I think it’s that way for everyone. If you’re building websites or installing blogs because you love (LOVE!) doing it – then you FEEL like you’re doing epic shit. But if you’re building websites or installing blogs because it pays the bills, but you have a secret dream that you really wanted to do, but you’re not doing it (for whatever the reason) — then the work you do “to pay the bills” doesn’t feel like epic shit.

    It’s not about whether you’re prominent. Or known. Or in a service business. It’s about whether you’re doing what makes your soul sing with joy to get up and do it again every day. That’s what doing epic shit means. At least in my mind. lol

  18. Sue Neal says:

    Great stuff, Johnny – it chimes with some of the thoughts I’ve had while watching the Olympics. One of my abiding memories is the look of utter amazement on the face of one of our female rowers who won gold – she looked at her rowing partner in stunned disbelief and said something like “we just won the Olympics!!” – it was a magical moment.

    You really felt it was a complete shock – that she had no idea this was going to happen – that all those months of hard grind would result in this totally epic achievement.

    Then, of course, you get to thinking about all those also-rans who also sacrificed god knows what to get to the Games but who never made it onto the podium – but most of them did their best (with the notable exception of a few badminton players!!).

    And then there are the kind of people Jackie talks about in her comment above, the ones who do the sort of truly epic shit that makes the world a better place but never leads to fame or fortune.

    I agree with Jackie that we can have a narrow, perhaps warped, vision of what ‘epic’ really is. The likes of Usain Bolt, Mo Farah and Michael Phelps ARE epic – but what makes them epic isn’t all the gold medals – it’s the fact that they strive to the point that they achieve their true potential. And that’s what they challenge the rest of us to do.

    We won’t all have it in us to win an Olympic gold medal, but most of us have the ability to make much more of our lives than we believe possible. And it’s the trying that matters – I think that’s perhaps the main point you’re making, if I’ve understood you right.

    My greatest regrets aren’t my failures – they’re the things I never tried due to lack of courage or self-belief. But I try not to waste time with pointless regrets about what might have been. I’m with Edith Piaf on that one! Better to make the most of what’s left of this little ol’ life and get cracking!

    Thanks for your inspiring thoughts, Johnny – just what the doctor ordered!

    Sue

    • Johnny says:

      It sounds so kindergarten to say it, but this really is about “doing your best.” The reason “doing your best” usually gets a bad rap is because most people don’t really do their best, and forget how, or are brainwashed out of it by their day-to-day lives.

      But yes, I believe that your own potential vs. your effort is what makes the difference.

  19. Joe P says:

    Hey Mr T,

    I don’t comment much anywhere and I don’t usually get all tied in knots when someone I read a lot is absent, but welcome back ya big lug nut on the wheel of life.

    While the wheel on my life would not fall off without you alone, many lug nuts are needed to keep this wheel turning and, your one of many that keep me sane, so to speak.

    Keep up the good, honest and helpful work that you do.

  20. Lesley says:

    Hello Johnny,

    I have only just discovered you. Was browsing my kindle in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep and came across “The Universe doesn’t give etc etc”. Tried a sample then got the rest. I read it every morning and laugh out loud at the thought of the epic shit I have lined up for the day. I am 60 and my sister is 57 and we have known the stuff that is now being put into words for us by you and other excellent bloggers/writers etc. But knowing this stuff in our generation just put us out of step. I recall my own mother asking me when I was about 30 and keeping a horse in my garage at home, “don’t you care what people think of you?” I was amazed that she would even ask. I said I didn’t care a jot what the general public thought of me. I did, however, care what the people I loved thought about me. But then they loved me and they knew me and thought I was just right.
    The story could go on and on, Remember I said I am 60!! I am at present moving right out of my comfort zone to do something really different and loving every minute of the planning, watching watching each stage of the puzzle slot into place as it preordained. But it isn’t that, it’s doing what you say in “The Universe”. Do epic shit – bravely. And enjoy.
    I am looking forward to reading your pithy prose for a long time to come. You talk like it comes into my head but doesn’t make it as far as my mouth cos I have to do old person speak.
    God Luv Ya! Mwuh.

    • Johnny says:

      This is fantastic! I’m trying to teach my son not to care what others think, but that’s an uphill battle, and if I’m honest with myself, I do think it matters a little what others think in some circumstances. If you want to be a crusading civil rights lawyer, you might influence some change-makers better if you don’t come to court with a bird’s nest in your hair, for instance. Ultimately, I think it’s all — ALL — about consciousness. If we simply make decisions wide awake instead of on rote, that solves a lot.

  21. And with this post you officially move from my “marketing” to “creative thinkers” list in twitter.

    DON”T fuck it up!

    Tweetdeck will now hold you to a higher standard…

    • Johnny says:

      That’s very cool to me. If I’m a “marketer,” it means I do marketing and not much else. That feels hollow. I’d rather do some marketing… but FOR something. Even ideas need marketing.

      And dude, I should’ve been in there for a while! I wrote my “Universe” post (in the sidebar) over a year ago. 🙂

  22. Kathrin Allgoewer says:

    Seems like you knew I needed this day-cue Twilight Zone theme here…grossly discouraged and beaten by circumstances beyond my control. Result: lost the fire, fell of the track I’d just just just begun, finely, after years of vagueish dreams and fear; had scrounged up a bit of courage, thanks largely to you and people found through you.
    Can not see the light at the end of the circumstances….. however, you’ve just lit a match I can catch a glimmer of…. not all is lost.
    Thanks Johnny. Again. 🙂

  23. How did you know I needed this? I just finished reading “The Universe Doesn’t Give a . . .” again this afternoon. You’re my kick in the pants when I start to slide back into “just let it flow” attitude.

    When I became a widow, one thing I held onto was that my husband did the one thing he wanted to do. He was in a band and played on many local stages. He said that was his dream and no matter what happened he had lived his dream and he was happy.

    I’ve stayed with my job because I have two teenage daughters to get started in the world. Writing and trying to help other volunteers is my first step to my dream. I hope to be able to leave my job and support myself through my writing and creations. It won’t be from lack of trying if I don’t make it.

    Keep kicking me, Johnny!

    • Johnny says:

      Okay, good to hear this kind of thing. The kicking is harsh, I know, but I think it’s simple to coddle our way into complacency. Not everyone likes my way of delivering the message (Pace Smith and I have a friendly ongoing debate about this), but for “my peeps,” I hope that it works. Thanks for letting me know it does for you.

  24. Good stuff, Mr. T (lol). I agree that a lot of us don’t stop to question what our life purpose is, and there are a lot of Bills around. Probably most of my neighborhood.

    It hasn’t been easy for me to figure that out, though. I’ve always known my purpose is to help people somehow–and animals as well (I’ve rescued a lot of dogs and cats over the years). But writing has always been central for me too. How to combine the two and how to make money?

    I’ve never thought my purpose in life has been to make money but it’s a reality. Throw that in the mix–how can I fulfill a life purpose and make money doing it?

    I bagged the psychology major in favor of English in college–helping people as a therapist or something really wasn’t my thing. I thought I would teach college English and writing for a steady income and do my creative writing on the side. That sucked as far as money went (loved it but the time required vs. pay was terrible), so I bagged that. Somewhere in there I was teaching inline skating lol….Then I just threw the teaching away and started writing, and now I’m headed into teaching writing as a business of my own and working on the creative side of things at the same time. I love to teach–that’s my purpose. To help people write–that’s helping people. Bingo. It feels really good.

    The trouble for me has always been so many cool things to do in life! Travel, sports, so many cool things to do..money? Purpose? lol Trying now to combine it all. It’s an amazing adventure, but there’s no way in hell I’d ever just settle into some kind of Bill existence.

    And that food service, minimum wage guy you mentioned in your comment–yeah, he’s doing epic shit too. There’s some kind of Zen proverb or something about a guy who is a butcher and feels guilty about killing animals and cutting them up, and he wonders if he should get some different kind of work. But his teacher (or whoever, I forget) tells him that his gift to the world is in doing what he does very well, and he enriches people’s lives by being kind to them and doing his job 100% epic (something like that). And he finds purpose in that, and really does it well.

    Thanks for getting me thinking on this 🙂

    • Johnny says:

      I was just talking to someone about this… the money thing.

      There’s this bias that says, “What you love should make you money,” or “You should be able to make a living doing that passion of yours and nothing else.” I don’t really think that’s always true. I think you can and probably should work toward that, but it’s hard, and not all passions translate.

      But what if you work that job and do something else on the side? What if you minimalize enough that you don’t need to spend as much time working? What if you prioritize fun and play and happiness and address money and work the way you’d address brushing your teeth — not always amazing, but necessary? And what if, then, you found ways over time to make work and obtaining money better and more aligned?

      I think you can do just about anything with time.

  25. Mark says:

    In fitting with Johnny T’s (aka Mr.T’s aka Lug Nut’s) awesome literary stylings and message I will not post a Tony Robbins quote. Oh no, today my quotes come straight from the D…

    “If I was gonna say just one thing to y’all tonight, I’d say set the artist free. I’m talking about this artist in here, set it free. I’m saying quit yo’ day job. Now I know a lot of you here are saying, ‘I can’t quit my day job, I got kids to feed Jack’. Quit ya day job, focus on your craft one time. Before it’s all over, you’ve died, you’ve squandered it, YOU FUCKIN’ ROBOTS.” – Jack Black (Tenacious D concert)

    “Sometimes you gotta leave your zone of safety. You have to manufacture Inspirado. You gotta get out of the apartment. You’ve got to run with the wolves. You’ve got to dive into the ocean and fight with the sharks. Or just treat yourself to a delicious hot fudge sundae. With nuts.” – Jack Black (Tenacious D HBO short)

    Excellent admonition JBT.

  26. Lukas says:

    Hey Johnny,
    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this life purpose, life meaning thing. It took me quite a lot of time to realize that it is all about adding value to peoples lives and being helpful. The real challenge for me is to make my only income come from helping people. That is what I need to work on right now.
    After watching the amazing I’m fine, thanks documentary I had to write an article about all those life lessons I have learned, I just published it today: http://theaspiringguitarist.net/2012/08/15/ideas-for-unconventional-life/.
    Hope you like it.
    Thank you for your great article.

    • Johnny says:

      Great write-up! I know, that movie inspired a lot of people… which would please its makers to NO END.

      Check out my comment reply above to Leah on the work/money thing.

  27. Carmelo says:

    The crazy thing is this. We’ve grown up within a system (teachers, governments, corporations, religions) that has taken us away from expressing who we really want to be … who we really ARE. We’ve been fed pablum all our lives and told it was caviar. We’ve bought in, how could we not. We got it from all directions and were punished if we rebelled or even if we thought on our own.

    And this purchase was made in installments our whole lives and just because JT and others come along and tell us we’re much more than drones and that unless we break out of the slumber we’re wasting our lives and our potentials it doesn’t mean we actually change. The devil’s in our blood. In our bones. In our DNA.

    Yeah, we can say “Shit, JT lay it on us! We’re ready!” But, in the end, it’s all just ideas, thoughts, words, inspiration, so much jostling around, a big to-do about nothing. Unless…

    Unless I’m ready for it. Unless I make the idea my own. Unless I take it and stuff it into the marrow of my bones and rework my own DNA of MY OWN volition, the ideas, inspiration, and ideals all slip away and once again I’m “Bill” sitting in front of the TV, another year gone. More human potential wasted.

    But, that’s just me. I’m just sayin’
    Carmelo

    • Johnny says:

      It’s not just you. It’s me too. The truth is that a lot of people aren’t ready to change, and I guess that’s fine; it’s their choice. The expression about a horse and water? Totally true.

      I guess I just want to provide the water for as many horses as I can, just in case.

      • Carmelo says:

        Sure, it’s their choice, like you say. I think what drives us is that here and there someone finally does come to drink. We just never know who, or when, or where.

        When that happens, it’s awesome. When they are ready perhaps our help will make a difference for them. Maybe not that we taught them anything, although maybe we do, but we just didn’t give up and they found something in us they could use.

        You’re doing great, JT. (I’m dipping my bucket again.)

  28. Johnny,

    “Do what you already know.” Why is it so easy to follow this advice when it means being like Bill and accepting the status quo, but so difficult when it means building the life you want off the foundation you’ve already created?

    Whoever said “knowledge is power” didn’t foresee a world where a computer could connect you to a thousand times more knowledge than you could ever possibly absorb. Knowledge is only power when you apply it to your actions. Knowledge is kryptonite if you believe you need more of it before you’ll be ready to act. Nine times out of ten, I’ve found that buying another book or subscribing to another mailing list didn’t make my road easier to navigate, it just put another fork in it.

    You’re one of the few exceptions. I continue to look forward to what you have to say, not just because you have awesome advice, but because it’s 90% inspiration rather than just feeding my addiction to information hoarding. And when you do provide the occasional how-to, it’s practical information that I can apply RIGHT NOW, not something I file away just in case I need it sometime in the future.

    Thank you once again for the unschooling.

    • Johnny says:

      I think inspiration gets a bad rap because it’s seen as fluffy… KNOWLEDGE is what matters, right? But like you said, we have the knowledge and yet we can’t make it work… me included plenty of times, I assure you.

      We’ve got to DO it. It’s so simple, and so hard.

  29. Gabriel says:

    The natural evolution… from doing Epic shit, to Legendary…
    love it.

  30. “You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it”

    Dude, you are like Morpheous…

    Thanks for this!

    • Johnny says:

      I think that The Matrix really is an amazing allegory of life. People talk about it being a Jesus parable, but I think it’s much more. It sounds dumb to keep holding up a movie (series) as a guide for life, but dammit if I don’t keep finding lessons in there… and, as I tell people what I think, I find the movie connection makes those lessons more relatable.

      • There’s a whole lot about this post that appeals to my true North. For one, now I don’t feel like a heel just because the Matrix concept still gives me goosebumps. Like you point out, the movie is a launch-pad into just about any epic shit. I mean, isn’t it so much like the postmodern world we now live in? We suckle on the false belief that we have to march to the beat of a drum that started its relentless message way back before the industrial revolution. We became mindless robots on the “productivity” treadmill, serving a purpose not of our own choosing, and totally inconsistent with who we really are. We’re brainwashed into thinking that everything, including our own inclinations and unique talents, that doesn’t fit into the rhythm isn’t worth aspiring to. Even when we’re aware of it, its often hard to get off that treadmill.

        I’m looking forward to the book Johnny… big time! I’m that “potential client” Tea identified, and everything she said is true. I believe the groups of like-minded people like the ones commenting on this post, are the ones who will continue to preach the new gospel until the whole world gets it…the purpose of human existence will not be fulfilled until every last one of us is doing the epic shit we were uniquely gifted to do. You see, I have this theory that today’s technology is actually opening the door and finally making it possible for us to follow just about ANY passion, and with time like you said, accomplish anything, including earning a hefty income from whatever it is. But the shortest way there is to first acknowledge that’s where you belong, and invest time there first. Tea did bring me that far. The other things I’m busy with will eventually feed into it because I know.. I can FEEL that I’ll bring it all together at some point.

        • Johnny says:

          Love this. You’re REALLY going to like the Legendary manifesto, because it extends much the same Matrix analogy you just did. I think we’re all in the matrix in a way.

          Should be out next week, fingers crossed!

  31. Ryan Morville says:

    YEAH! You tell em man.

  32. It takes a lot of energy to get out of your comfort zone. We tend to fall asleep there and dream of things that were, or things that will never be. Life is experienced outside the comfort zone. Living is buying our first new car, or first home mortgage, or marrying someone, having a family that depends on you. Life, and the future, happens outside our comfort zone. Life IS Epic Shit!

  33. Tom says:

    totally sweet!

  34. Priska says:

    I was a Bill for 20 years. It is now time for me to “boom on” from the busyness of life to get on with the business of life before its too late. My early adulthood was all about doing write by others, now I just need to do right. I don’t expect to be an overnight success, I don’t even need to be much of a success. Life is no longer about status and success, more practicing living. If I practice writing each day, perhaps, eventually, I may write as well as you and I may begin to feel legendary, that what I had to offer was of value.

  35. Great agent Smith quote, however, the picture you use is from The Matrix Reloaded. While I do agree that we’re fighting infinite Smiths everyday, it follows that you should pull a capture from the corresponding movie….

    • Johnny says:

      The quote is from Reloaded too.. I just didn’t credit it specifically. I consider the trilogy as one body of work.

  36. the muskrat says:

    That sounds fun (writing your new book, that is). I’ll look forward to downloading it.

    • Johnny says:

      Probably be a few months. I’m about half of the way through the rough draft now, but rollin’ fast!

  37. Gareth Witty says:

    Great ebook, love the style of writing but it looses one start for not having Zombies in Trees 😉

    Also recommend that you all go out and listen to the podcasts as well. Links are on the site.

    Also what is a good open source writing tool for linux ?

  38. Phillyfreedom222 says:

    I have had the same thoughts every single day, the thoughts that I believe why I am on this earth. I always thought of this as my purpose, the reason God put me on this planet. Please continue to read but don’t laugh, I am really serious. This purpose, however, requires alot of money, I mean, alot. It is a plan that could change our universe and make it so much better. I have wrote to millionaires to ask them or money and explained not one dime would go to me, that this project is very near and dear to my heart, but I guess they thought it was a scam. I pray everyday that God will help me since he put this idea in my head in the first place. I pray and hope that the universal forces will be attracted to me and let me win the lottery and get the funds I so desperately need, but nothing. I would think that since I am ALWAYS thinking of this, it must be the plan God has for me. Right? Or is it just some stupid idea in my head? Please let me know what you think. Thank you & God Bless!

    • Johnny says:

      It’s important to keep in mind that feeling your purpose and making other people understand it are two separate things, and you can’t force anyone to see your vision. If you’re getting no forward progress, I’d suggest adapting and trying a different tack. One of the things we talk about in my Everyday Legendary community is the fact that change comes not from ONE BIG HUGE act, but from the accumulation of small ones. A subtle change in plan of attack plus the willingness to settle for smaller steps at a time might do wonders!

  39. Adam Johnson says:

    It’s funny how, once you know what you want to do, and you then believe that you are entitled to do it, you get it done. I am forever frustrated at the lack of progress I make on my purpose, but when you stand back you realise that there has been progress.

    Your purpose is something that unfolds, that is nurtured, that builds upon itself until there comes a point when you are towering above yourself. That comes through ups and downs, all of that stuff. To borrow from another of your posts – it is simple. But not easy.

    Thanks for getting this, and writing it so wisely. It is all too easy to play for the extremes. You don’t do that. Plus you quote The Matrix, still one of my favourite stories.

  40. This is a terrific and like most illuminating articles it is pretty obvious when you stop and think about it. The trouble is that most of the time we are on autopilot. I loved your analogy about zoning out while driving.

    Jackie McBride made a great point about the “ordinary” awesome things that people do to keep our human world together and that sort of work should neither be denigrated nor underpaid.

    Rodney C. Davis made an even better point by putting his finger on the key to liberation for many people. That is the incredible technology that has unleashed our ability to communicate, to reach out, to find out, to ask questions, to provide answers and to open and explore innumerable new passageways in the labyrinth that is life.

    I have been self-employed for 30 years. While it is a less secure existence to be self reliant, you are forced to be more “awake”, to be alert to opportunities and to be more careful with your savings because you do not have the comforting certainty of a monthly pay cheque (and that “certainty” is, in reality, an illusion). You have to reach out, you have to keep up to date in your field, you have to widen the span of people you interact with because any one of them could be your next customer. In short, it is risky to be on auto pilot if you are self-employed. There is a kind of freedom in that realisation but I also think that freedom is a relative thing.

    What I mean is that you can realise any dream you want but you may have to give up a lot to achieve that. Almost nothing comes without hard work, endless practice, failures from which we learn and so on. These things can conflict with the other important things in our lives such as family life and obligations to family members and friends.

    So while I agree that many rules are bogus, there are still important life rules that make us part of a community. We all know examples of those who have trampled over others on the way to realising their dreams. Many of them can be forgiven by society because the benfits they bring outweigh the means they took or because they make amends by setting up great foundations for the common good.

    So, follow your dream – make it happen but do it nicely.

    • Johnny says:

      I totally and completely agree, Nick. It’s not that there’s any one right way to do things, just that you need to really and truly understand what it is you’re doing and why it is that you’re doing it. It’s not that I’m against any one set of rules – I just want people to be aware of which rules they are following, rather than being unconscious about it.

  41. Shawn says:

    Johnny that was FUCKING AWESOME !!! I sure was kahuna’d. Hmmmm looks like I just made up an awesome word !!!!

  42. Danny says:

    I’m becoming an existential philosopher teacher and author.

  43. Karolina says:

    I found your amazing ebook on some random facebook fanpage for writers-to-be. I’m writing a book, yes, but why I’m really here, is because I’m constantly hearing that I’m insane for doing what I want to. And I’m an archeologist (a student actually). They say that I will never find a job, that I will naver settle down, that I won’t ever earn for a car and big tv, and that I will surely waste my life. What I want to thank You for, is showing me, that I’ve already unplugged from Matrix on my own, and they are still in. That I am right, not they. It’s a huge relief for me. I can tell myself that if I keep going I will be legendary in my own way.
    And there is more than that. I’m quite talented, I mean I can draw, paint, make jewlery, t-shirts etc. I was always saying that some day I will open a shop with my works and start making money. I’ve read your ebook and… well – I’m on the begining stage right now. So thanks for that!
    You could say it’s quite much. A book, weird studies and a shop. I’ve already quit one big thing in my life, and I’m going to quit another (I don’t want a master deegre in history of art, it’s killing me). I have never said that I failed them. I’ve just decided it’s not the way. So again, You are absolutely right – we already know everything we need, we ofted don’t realize it’s that simple. What I needed to hear was that I have to stop making exuses and definietly stop listening to lies I was told my etire life. What is sad is that the more I act agaist those lies, the louder they repeat them. I needed reasurence that they are lies indeed.
    Thank You!
    and greetings from Poland 🙂

  44. TK says:

    Yes! The very second this hit my desktop I was typing away at my “Manifesto in Cyberspace”… coming to a Kindle near you soon (later is just not an option). Mr. T… you’re the T in motivaTion and my purpose in this world is to a) tell people where to find your work and b) to do 1/100th of what you did for me for other people all the while LIVING. Tick tock… I have a purpose to purposely .. I wonder if I can convert my flat screen into an easle to paint on? Gotta go!

  45. It is amazing how many people whinge and complain about their crappy life, yet most of them aren’t willing to do a damn thing about it. Their life is like a scene from Groundhog Day. But if you ask what changes people like this are willing to make in their life, unfortunately they are too comfortable and won’t budge. It is refreshing to have someone like you delivering the sucker punches people obviously need to make change. I would like to take a copy of “How to be Legendary” and drop it in some inboxes of people I know. As you have said with regard to some of your friend’s stories, there needs to be action to make a change. And many people just aren’t willing to do it.

  46. sheri says:

    I recently fell down a flight of stairs and broke three ribs, fractured a vertebrae and partially punctured my lung. As a result I have been off of work for one month with one more month to go. With nothing but time on my hands I am finally making progress with my writing and painting goals. Sometimes God opens a door for you and sometimes he pushes you down the stairs. Either way, I am making the most of the time given me. Loved your post.

  47. Rohit Gupta says:

    I feel the whole purpose of finding my purpose has a very deep root, and I often feel as if there is a different world out there, without limits and conditions.
    We perhaps underestimate our endurance and awesomeness, a gentle nudge in the right direction surely goes a long way.

Trackbacks

  1. […] motivational posts that are emotionally charged and usually hilarious. But most of all, he believes everything we need to know about life is in the film The Matrix. I happen to agree. He also participates in The Self Publishing Podcast and his course, Question […]

  2. […] What’s Your Purpose? (No. Really. Think About It.) by Johnny B. Truant […]

  3. […] I don’t have to choose one career, I can choose six. I don’t have to find a career that fits me, I can create my own.  I don’t have to do shit I find stupid, I can just always do epic shit. […]