It’s Not About What You Get Out of Life

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”
Winston Churchill

Have you ever asked yourselves these questions?

  • Where Do I Want To Be In 5 Years?
  • What Goals Do I Want To Accomplish This Year?
  • What Are The Major Milestones I Want To Achieve?

These are all questions about the future – and they’re all basically asking “what can I get out of the time I spend?

To answer that question, I want to tell you a story that I heard yesterday about inspiration and changing people’s lives that blew my mind.

It’s an insight that is already changing the way I’m thinking about my goals and how I’m approaching my life – and I encourage you to stop whatever you’re doing for a couple minutes and really let the lesson from this story sink in.

The Real Reason Chris Guillebeau Wrote A Book

I was talking to Chris Guillebeau on his book tour for The Art of Nonconformity yesterday, and he shared an insight that shows just how much he “gets it.”  For those of you that don’t know him, Chris is an extremely successful online entrepreneur, blogger, world traveler- and now book author. And an incredibly nice guy.

Spoiler Alert: if you’re going to check Chris out on his unconventional book tour, you should hear him tell this firsthand!  Bookmark this post and read it later!

So, since he doesn’t need the money, and really doesn’t have anything more to prove, why write a book?

Here it is, as I remember him saying it:

“One of the questions I get at these Unconventional Book Tour Meetups is why write a book for The Art of Nonconformity?   After all, it’s a lot of work – and it’s not the only way I can spread my writing.

If I write a blog post about what happens here tonight, I can publish it and people can read it tomorrow. But with a book, there’s publishers, and agents, and retailers – there’s so many gatekeepers. You do give up a little bit of control, and since I can already speak to my audience through my blog, why go through all that hassle to publish a book?

I’ve always had a thing for books though.

The thing is, I can think back on my life, and remember maybe 5 books that I read that really changed my life

How many blogs have you read that have changed your life?

How many blog posts?

How many tweets – in 140 characters?

Does that mean my book is going to change people’s lives? I don’t know. But, it’s always good to have that goal.”

I never thought about it that way. I’ve always written here and worked with people in person, and for me personally there are blogs and blog posts I’ve read that have changed my life – but it’s true, that it’s certainly not to the degree that some of my favorite personal development books have.

His insight though really led me to realize something.

Chris Isn’t Looking To *Get* Something

What really sticks out in that story – and in all my discussions with Chris, as well as his writing online is he’s not trying to “get” something out of it.  His book really is his gift to the world – he’s packed as much of his life experience, advice and philosophy into one dense super low priced package for his readers’ benefit.

He’s not in it for the money.

He’s not in it for the fame.

He’s creating something to change peoples lives – and in his own way, to change the world.

It reminds me of something I read in Linchpin, another book that is completely rocking my world right now:

“Artists don’t give gifts for money. They do it for respect and connection and to cause change.”
Linchpin by Seth Godin

Putting Something *In* To Life

I want to take a step back and think about our own goals for a moment, because so often we talk in terms of the end goals we want to reach for our efforts.

  • We want to get more money, buy a bigger house, buy a nicer car.
  • We want to get good grades, get accepted into a prestigious college, get a good job, get that next promotion.
  • We want to get from here to there, because there’s something over there we really want.

Our goals so frequently focus on what we’re trying to “get” out of life.

But how about flipping it – and asking, what are we putting in to the world?

What seeds can we plant today, what art can we create, what gifts can we give that cause change?

Of course I support having goals and long term dreams – but in the end, what’s the point if all we’re doing is trying to get something out of life?

Money, fame, even our largest accomplishments – I don’t believe any of them compare to actually putting something out there, a piece of ourselves, that changes the world.

None of them can compare to what we can do to …

Push The Human Race Forward

The last thought I’d like to leave you with is an old Apple commercial that my friend Nestor pointed me to.  I think you’ll really enjoy it:

Spread the word. Would you do me a favor? If this has woken up something inside you, inspired you – or just made you think, why not share it on Facebook, Twitter, or via good old-fashioned email with someone who needs to hear this message?

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Further Reading

Some links on may go to websites which will give me a “finders fee” if you purchase from them.

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