Heretic to Heroes is a fast read. As I’ve blogged about before, it’s not full of checklists or theories: It’s a book of adventure and self-discovery meant to prompt reader reflection and action in exciting new ways.
So after you’ve finished the stories, what’s next? How do you start applying what you’ve learned? Here are the first four steps to take:
1. Understand and embrace this Joseph Campbell quote:
“Life is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out what was going on without bothering everybody with a lot of questions, and then being unexpectedly called away before you find out how it ends.”
Instead of chasing answers, get comfortable with knowing you may never find them. Don’t spend your life seeking answers or things. Seek experiences––especially the ones that make you feel the rapture of being alive.
Walk a path on which you continually say to yourself, “I’m in the right place, with the right people, doing the right thing, right now.” For me, that path takes me to two main activities: 1) coaching business leaders who care about people as much as they do profits; and 2) spending time with my family. Your path may be very different.
2. Re-read Heretics to Heroes’ Chapter 30: “A Day in My Life of Bliss.”
Do the exercise described. Do it well, and you will gain a much clearer vision of the life that will give you bliss.
I completed the exercise in 1996, and I’ve been working on creating that life for myself ever since. Today, I can honestly say that I live the day I sketched 20 years ago about 90% of the time.
3. Declare your intentions to the world.
When you commit to your day of bliss publicly, you are invested in a deeper, bolder way.
When President John F. Kennedy dedicated the Aerospace Medical Health Center in San Antonio, Texas on November 21, 1963, he referenced the author Frank O’Connor:
“Frank O’Connor, the Irish writer, tells in one of his books how, as a boy, he and his friends would make their way across the countryside, and when they came to an orchard wall that seemed too high and too doubtful to try and too difficult to permit their voyage to continue, they took off their hats and tossed them over the wall––and then they had no choice but to follow them.
“This nation has tossed its cap over the wall of space, and we have no choice but to follow it.”
My definition of commitment is “an intentional choice to eliminate any choice but the choice to move forward.” So throw your day of bliss over the wall so you have no choice but to follow it. Intentionally put yourself in situations where you have no choice to but move toward your day of bliss. The best way I know how to start that process is to declare your day publicly.
The power of commitment is perfectly captured in this musing from William Hutchison Murray:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.”
You cannot receive support for visions that remain unknown to everyone else.
4. Do not give a damn about what anyone else thinks about your day of bliss.
While some will support you and your vision, others won’t. The world is full of people who are drifting through life like black holes, ready to steal your life and bliss from you. Stay away from them when you can, and when you can’t, ignore them. Associate with people who give you energy, not those who suck it from you.
My dad once told me, “The only free man is the one who can say, ‘No thanks,’ to an invitation and not give a reason why.”
You do not have to give any justification for or explanation of your day. When I committed to my wife Julie at our wedding, I didn’t then turn around and say to the congregation, “Now, let me explain why I’ve made this commitment.” That would have robbed our vows of all their meaning and power.
When it comes to shutting down poisonous detractors, Spencer Tracy put it best in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner: “Screw all those people!”
Screw all those people who question your day of bliss or attempt to lure you from it. Your day is your day––even if it is heretical.