57 Living Legends Expose The Moment that Defined their Passion

Written by Scott July 27, 2011

Living Legends

“No one ever got anywhere by themselves. Find your support and keep them close.”

-Anonymous

Who inspires you? Who pushes you to places you couldn’t get on your own? It’s time to start spending more time around them…

Live Your Legend is dedicated to helping you find the work you love. To discover passion and spend your time doing what matters. To putting a dent in the world that only you are capable of making.

This comes down to a simple formula:

Learn who you are + get inspired by others + take action = Live Your Legend

If I’m not spending my time in one of those categories, I’m not living. I surround myself with passionate people everyday. They push my limits. They inspire me. They teach me the impossible is possible. We are not meant to go at it alone.

I get to live my legend, work on passion and wake up excited because of what I’ve learned from those who’ve taken the world by the horns and done something with who they are.

Recently I asked a handful of kick-ass entrepreneurs living their dreams (aka: Living Legends), one question:

What’s one defining life experience or belief that’s allowed you to find your passion and live on purpose? 

The responses blew my mind – I hope they’ll do the same for you.

I’m grateful to say the below are all people I’ve met, spent time around or been in touch with in one way or another along the journey. Many of them have become good friends. Whether they know it or not, they’ve shed light on a path I could not have walked alone.

They have built businesses and sold them, written bestsellers, lived and worked all over the world and most importantly helped people in a way only they could. And they did it all on their terms.

They’ve created lives of meaning that, however big or small, are changing the world. And the best part, we are all capable of what they’ve done. You just have to want it badly enough.

Doing work that matters is scary sh*t. One few decide to tackle. You are here because you think differently. We all do.

We all have moments that change us. We all have times where fear and uncertainty stare us in the face. It’s what we do at those moments that defines us.

I have not gotten here alone nor will I go any further without the right people in my corner.

From the shoulders of giants, enter the Living Legends…

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Chip Conley – CEO of Joie de Vivre Hospitality & Author of “Peak”

In college, I only took one psychology class, but I distinctly remember how drawn I was to Abraham Maslow’s iconic Hierarchy of Needs pyramid, a precursor to today’s positive psychology movement. More than two decades later, when my San Francisco-based hotel company was struggling with the dot-com bust, I reconnected with Maslow’s theory of human motivation and reinterpreted it for my company and then in a book PEAK.

In essence, business is meant to be pleasure and the ultimate work experience is when you’re feeling self-actualized (a Maslow expression). Maslow was famous for foreshadowing the human potential movement, but, honestly, in business, great leaders visualize potential and actualize it into reality. Business is meant to be the ultimate human potential movement.

Keith Ferrazzi – Relationship Master & Bestselling Author of “Never Eat Alone”

The act of service has been transformative in my life personally. I grew up being taught the power of “paying it forward” in my life by all those who were there for me as a child and young man. Then it became more evident after publishing Never Eat Alone. I began to stand in front of audiences and give my personal testimonial for a life transformed through a life of stronger relationships… I had to hold the mirror up and ask every day if I was living up to my books and talk? And the answer was not always yes!

But a few years ago I began a new chapter in my life of service. It started with Meals on Wheels and the weekly transformation I gained reaching out and touching individual lives so directly in such simple but powerful ways. I guarantee I got more out of it than anyone I delivered that meal to.

Service has now become a contagion for me! I make every effort to tie in acts of direct service around every major trip I do. My work to bring our message to individual children and to help those serving others use our work to better their lives and service… This is truly the joy of my life today.

Seth Godin – Bestselling Author & Marketing Genius

You have everything you need to build something far bigger than yourself.

Michael Bungay Stanier – Author of “Do More Great Work”

The catalyst for the work I do now – helping people and organizations do less Good Work and more Great Work – came when I rediscovered a scrap of paper in my files. It was a photocopied page from a coffee-table book, Art is Work by the designer Milton Glaser. My friend Kate had sent it to me – a four paragraph introduction to a book of photos – and it suddenly crystalized what I was trying to do. It was one of those moments when “inspiration is when your past suddenly makes sense.”

But that makes it sound like one flash of light and ta-da! it’s all sorted out. But more accurately for me, the process was much closer to those beautiful sand mandalas you see Tibetan monks painstakingly create. For years I’ve been probing, pushing, checking, trying, exploring, stumbling, feeling and trying to get closer to what I stand for, what I want to do and who I want to be.

That was the really hard work that allowed me to recognize what mattered when I picked up that piece of paper again.

Simon Sinek – Author of “Start With Why”

Six years ago I found myself in a place I’d never been before. I lost my passion for what I was doing. Waking up was a chore and going to work required all the energy I had. It was the discovery of this thing called the Why that restored my passion. It proved to me that I had the right to feel fulfilled by my work and that I didn’t have to suffer through a job I had. It was so powerful that I decided I was going to devote all my energy from that point on to proving to others that fulfillment is a right we all share and I was going to do my part to show people a way that we could all come home at the end of the day and say, with a smile, “I love my job.”

Richard Leider – Purpose Coach and Bestselling Author of “The Power of Purpose” & “Repacking Your Bags”

I met Viktor Frankl just after graduate school where I had, in fact, been moved by reading his classic work, Man’s Search for Meaning. His seminar shifted my world view and helped me find the voice in my vocation. I learned why it is essential, from cradle-to-grave, to have a “reason to get up in the morning.” My writing and lifework continues to be profoundly impacted by his life and work.

Leo Babauta – Zen Habits & Author of “The Power of Less” 

My belief in simplicity. It gives me the space to pursue my passion, to have only the things I love in my life, to cultivate the life I want. I’ve eliminated everything that distracts me from doing what I love.

Jonathan Fields – Speaker and Author of “Uncertainty”

Becoming a dad. It’s a huge reminder to lead with intention and action, not just words.

 

 

 

Chris Guillebeau – Art Of Non Conformity

Say yes to everything you’re excited about or afraid of.

Jim Cathcart – Bestselling Author & Founder of Cathcart Institute

The defining moment for me was when I was a government clerk at the Little Rock (Arkansas) Housing Authority in 1972 and I heard Earl Nightingale say, on the radio, that by spending one extra hour a day studying my chosen field, I could become a National Expert in that field in 5 years or less. From that day forward I believed that I was capable of living a significant life. Prior to that I expect much less.

Sean Stephenson – Motivational Speaker & Founder of Time to Stand

It took place almost a decade ago. I met a young girl (after one of my speeches) who showed me her ‘cutting scars’ and asked, “Why do I do this to myself?” Sadly, I didn’t know. That year I went back to school to become a therapist to find that answer and more.

Neil Pasricha – 1000 Awesome Things

Life is delicate, fragile, and short. There’s so much to learn and so much we’ll never know. Embrace the insanity.

 

 

 

Pam Slim – Escape from Cubicle Nation

Working with a group of exceptionally bright and talented young people when I taught martial arts. From outward appearances, they had lots of challenges: low income, rough neighborhoods, fractured family lives and pressure to do drugs and join gangs. But their spirits were so strong, and when they found something they loved, they willingly and powerfully changed their circumstances. Whenever I get down or feel pressure, I think of their courage and strength and it motivates me to keep going.

Danielle Laporte – White Hot Truth

Half of getting where you want to go is KNOWING WHAT IT TAKES TO GET THERE. Crazy ambition requires radical practicality. Otherwise, it’s just stupid.

Charlie Gilkey – Productivity Flourishing

Better to take one idea and do something with it than to file hundreds in the back of your brain. Go create something.

Scott Fox – Click Millionaires & Author of “Internet Riches”

A few years back I started writing my first book, Internet Riches, because I wanted to teach others how to succeed online like I have. It was ambitious and maybe even crazy to try to reinvent myself as an author when I had never written a book (or even a blog post) before. Standing in a Barnes & Noble in San Diego with my wife, we joked that I would like to return there someday to find my book on the shelves. But soon enough it was!

The great response to Internet Riches from readers worldwide has led to two more books plus the founding of ClickMillionaires.com. This was not the result of simply “envisioning abundance” but of using my personal passion to help others through hard work, careful planning, and lots of marketing. This success convinced me again that you and I both can design our lives to be anything we want them to be.

Cori PadgettCori Padgett- Big Girl Branding

I became a mom at 17.  It pretty much defined who I am today because I had to grow up very quickly and learn what’s important in life and what’s not. Kids have a way of making you assess the person you are and the person you want to be, and they either inspire and motivate you to connect the two, or send you running scared into a life of denial.

Ultimately though it will be a life of regret too… because one day you WILL wake up and figure out what’s important and what sort of person you want to be, and by then your kids probably won’t give two shits about your sudden epiphany. Sad but true.

So my kids motivate me and inspire me to be a better person every day, to teach them about character and strength, to be an example they can be proud of someday and use my life as a light to brighten their own walk in this world and find their own way.  

Ultimately if they grow up being kind and caring, hard workers, successful in doing something they love and in serving God… I feel I did my job well. Definitely not perfect, but well. And if in the process I can inspire other people too into living a life they can be proud of and that God would be proud of, then that’s something I can be proud of as well.  Can’t beat that right? :)

Lewis HowesLewis Howes – Former Two Sport All American Turned Internet Mogul   

It was the classic class dodge ball game and two of my peers were the team captains. With my previous tether ball victories under my belt, I figured I was a shoo-in for a first round pick. Instead, I was picked dead last. I was even picked last over the nerds with glasses and EVERY SINGLE GIRL IN MY CLASS! In the fragile social stratosphere of 3rd grade, this was death. Needless to say, I felt hurt, rejected and extremely lonely.

As an adult, I can see now how that moment has impacted my life and career, because I decided right then that never again would I get picked last for a sporting event or game, or anything I ever undertake in my life. Since then I’ve always strived for excellence and to pursue my passion 100% along the way no matter who tried to bring me down.

Chuck Longanecker – Digital Telepathy & Creator of Hello Bar

Camaraderie. I had a moment at my bachelor party last year. I looked around and saw my closest friends and realized that my greatest achievement in life is the relationships that I have created.

True and authentic connections that create the space for our greatness and potential. Since then, I have established camaraderie as a value within our company. We only work with, for and around friends. It’s a simple formula – If you give care and support to those around you and are open to receiving the same, you will find the balance and fuel necessary to accomplish anything.

Corbett Barr – Think Traffic

The adventure that most defined how I live now was the six month road trip / sabbatical I took to Mexico in early 2009. That trip marked the first time in my adult life I pursued something so purposefully and long-term while putting my career on the back burner. The trip ended up changing all of my views about work and life and helped me discover what my real passions were.

Too often people accept others’ goals as their own simply because they don’t spend enough time away from societal influences. I highly recommend anyone thinking about a career transition to start by taking an extended sabbatical to think about what you really want, away from your normal influences and responsibilities.

Pat Flynn – Smart Passive Income

Getting laid off in 2008 was the most defining moment of my life. The experience taught me that there is no such thing as absolute security and that the best thing I can do is work for myself and control my own destiny. It opened up a whole new world for me and I’m so happy now that I can do what I’m passionate about and inspire many others to do the same. 

Jonathan Mead – Illuminated Mind

Test your assumptions. Ruthlessly. The repercussions of doing what you want are vastly overrated.

Adam Baker – Man vs Debt

The biggest defining life experience for us was when we first sold everything we owned – and flew into Australia with our backpacks and one-year-old daughter.

We had little idea of what we were really doing, but quickly were thrown into situations where we HAD to be flexible. We were FORCED to have positive attitude and learn to adjust on the fly.

It wasn’t easy – but this environment taught me patience, control, and flexibility more than any other situation I’ve ever been in. I’m glad we did it – even though in the moment it seemed crazy!

Scott Young – Habit Hacker & Blogger

 I wouldn’t say I’ve had one defining life experience – it’s hundreds of little reference points that add up to the confidence to live how you want. Little successes build up your repository of examples that let you know you can accomplish things if you set your mind to it.

Maren Kate – Escaping the 9 to 5

Traveling to Italy for a month and reading a lot of Vonnegut. He mentioned that he believes only 17% of the population have lives worth living and that scared & saddened me. Standing in the train terminal, sipping a cappuccino – I decided that I would be part of that 17% and I would never settle for a life of mediocrity no matter what it cost me.

Jodi Ettenberg – Legal Nomads

The most defining attitude for me has been the belief that life is about learning. I am constantly propelled forward by this desire to learn about and experience other places, and it’s part of why I’m so thirsty to do things a little differently. As a lawyer I was definitely soaking up a ton of knowledge, but in leaving the law to travel and share my experiences I’ve found myself that much more curious and excited about life, wherever it takes me. That’s the magic in doing what you feel passionate about: seeing things in technicolour, all the time.

Steven Aitchison – Change Your Thoughts

The one thing that started my whole personal development journey and allowed me to live on purpose, was the day I found out I could change my beliefs, I was 14 years old. It’s amazing a lot of us think ‘This is my lot in life, and I can’t change it.’ and deep down believe it. If we choose to believe differently we get different results. Changing a belief is the reverse of how we installed the belief in the first place, and when you look at it like this you’ll realise there’s so much more you can do in life.

Jenny Blake – Life After College

“You can’t cross the Grand Canyon in two small leaps.” That’s an anonymous quote that my Dad shared with me many years ago, and it’s been a guiding principle in my life ever since. Yes, sometimes we need to take baby steps to start making progress on our goals. But more often, we need to dig deep and find the courage to take the great leaps in life — the ones that propel us so far forward that we become a bigger, better, more alive version of ourselves. My personal motto, “Live big!” reflects the belief that it’s our greatest leaps that define us and bring us the most joy. At least for all the go-getters out there.

Mars Dorian – Spread Your Influence

Two years ago I gave a stranger at a party some advice on building a creative business. He was still grinding at the 9-5 and soaked up every little word I came up with. Guess what? A few months later he wrote me a big, fat email THANKING me for my advice and telling how he successfully built his biz based on my ideas. I thought “Holy crap, I can actually POSITIVELY impact someone and epic-fy their life through my existence !”

That was the point where I put more passion than ever before into my own business – inspiring others to live & work on their own terms with ENDLESS FIRE INSIDE!

JD Roth – Get Rich Slowly

About five years ago, I made one simple change that’s helped me find more passion and purpose in my life. I started saying ‘yes’ to the things that scared me. Instead of turning down opportunities that seemed intimidating, I started embracing them. I began to talk with strangers. I agreed to appear on television. I swallowed my fear of heights and jumped out of an airplane. Basically, I stopped saying ‘no’ and started saying ‘yes’ to all of the things I’d been afraid to try before. This one change has made my life a thousand times more fulfilling than it was before.

Larry Benet – The Connector

After being selectively outsourced for the 4th and final time from corporate america and after asking Donald trump a question on overcoming adversity and pressure, I realized that I wanted to have the freedom to do what I wanted with who I wanted when I wanted. I knew I had a unique gift of connecting with people and building relationships, and realized that i could build relationships with anyone. Since that time I have set out to build relationships with some of the worlds greatest thought leaders and entrepreneurs like Tony Hsieh of zappos, Tony Robbins, to Peter Guber owner of the Golden State Warriors and created an organization to serve them and add value to them.

David Hassell – CEO of 15Five & Strategy Day

Discovering that we all have a unique gift or ability, like our very own super power, which lives at the intersection of our talents and passions.

You know when you’re using it when you’re in flow — you lose all sense of time, you’re more energized than when you started, and others wonder how you’re able to do it so easily.

It’s hard to see in yourself because it comes so naturally, but once I discovered mine, instead of comparing my weaknesses against everyone else’s super power and feeling bad about myself, I was able to focus on using mine wherever and whenever I could to help those around me.

Now instead of focusing on improving my weaknesses (which only leads to a set of mediocre abilities), I focus on using my strenghts as much as possible, and partner with people who’s super powers either compensate for my weaknesses or compliment my strengths.

Life is much more fun as every day I find ways to share my gift, and I get to discover and admire the greatness in everyone I meet.

Barrie Davenport – Live Bold and Bloom

For me there have been two distinct beliefs/experiences for two phases of my life, and both happened organically. When I graduated from college, I had no idea what I wanted to do – no clear career path and or sense of purpose about a profession. I accidentally landed in a public relations job which was a great career for many years. But the only thing I truly felt passionate about was having children and creating a stable and happy family life (something I missed as a child).

In my 40’s, and as my children got older, I had a relentless compulsion (mid-life crisis??) to discover my passion and life purpose beyond parenting. I read dozens of books, took self-assessments, enrolled in workshops, and ultimately discovered my passion is helping others uncover their own passions and make positive life change. I’ve since become a personal coach and run several blogs related to personal development and online learning. I wake up every day filled with enthusiasm for what’s next!

Satya Colombo – Fierce Wisdom

Getting to know some of the most amazing people alive right now through my work — many on this page — and learning straight from them how to live an immortal life. One thing we share in common is we’re not afraid to take huge risks to live the truth of our heart’s calling. Don’t fool yourself into thinking any of these people have had it easy. You’ve gotta be willing to stake everything and be a badass, even if it’s the most uncomfortable thing in the world. It’s a sh*t-ton of blood, sweat and tears, but it’s worth every last second.

Natalie Sisson – The Suitcase Entrepreneur

For me it was realizing I could sit down to lunch with fear and face it directly and talk to it just like any companion. Once you give fear a persona it no longer becomes this thing that can control and limit all that you’re capable of.

I learned that, along with fear, failure was also part and parcel of a long journey to being successful. That the thought of failure was often worse than the feeling of being at rock bottom. Even when I was down to my last pennies, having put everything into starting a new business, I realized I was still happy, healthy and lucky to be enjoying the best things in life – which are always free you know.

Once I’d taken fear to lunch a few times and become accustomed to failing fast and often, things just got better and better. As soon as you get really clear on what you want in life, you start to do everything in your power (and subconcious) to make  it a reality, and then Universe steps in and provides what you ask for. That’s when the fun really begins as you’re possibilities in what you want to do, who you want to become and what you want to achieve are only limited by your imagination. 

Jeffrey Riddle – The Give Give

Had I not given myself permission to go after a career in professional baseball, tour the country as a musician, try real estate, manage artists and produce albums, start a dot com, build a marketing company, and explore software sales, I would have never discovered my passion. It’s taken a  commitment to the relentless pursuit of self growth and exploration to find it; and there isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not incredibly grateful.

Suzannah Scully – Career Maven

I believe that we were all given gifts and it is our responsibility to share that gift with others. I believe in the most effective use of my soul and mind and what that means for how I spend my time. And I know that I have never felt more like myself than I have since I started listening to what was inside as opposed to following what everyone expected of me on the outside.

Laura Roeder – Social Media Marketing Made Easy

I believe you choose everything in your life. If you don’t like something make a different choice. (OR accept that these are the circumstances you’ve decided to put yourself in.) This belief makes you take responsibility but is incredibly freeing at the same time – every element is within your control.

Karol Gajda – Ridiculously Extrodinary

I don’t know that I’ve ever had a single great life epiphany. I’ve had a lot of “oh! this feels better” type moments. When I stopped chasing money and began getting rid of all my stuff (including my at-the-time-beloved BMW 530i and Gibson SG guitar) is when I feel like I really started to appreciate what life was about. That was a years-long process as opposed to a single moment. The way I’m living now is a culmination of those years of paring down and reflection on what truly matters.

Aaron Ross – Pebble Storm & Founder of Unique Genius

1) Patience, baby steps, patience, baby steps, patience and baby steps.  Be the tortoise, not the hare.

2) As you follow your callings and gut, learn from, but don’t imitate other people.  You must be a “first class you”, rather than a “second class imitation of others”.  If you constantly “compare and despair” rather than focusing on what your unique gifts and path are, you will never find happiness, fulfillment, or your Unique Genius.

Doug Hattaway – CEO of Hattaway Communications

I found purpose and focus when I committed my business to working only with “visionary” clients out to make a positive difference for “people and the planet.” When I began consulting I hadn’t set out with that mission in mind, but then I took the time to explore what I was really interested in doing – and why. I enjoy my work because it involves creativity, learning and challenge – but I could find that enjoyment in lots of endeavors. Ultimately, the chance to make a positive difference in the world is what gets me going. Doing meaningful work is motivating – not just to me, but to all the smart and talented people who work with me.

Shama Kabani – Marketing Zen

I live by this quote: “When you get to the end of all the light you know, and it’s time to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.” – Edward Teller. This is my belief when it comes to life and business. There is a grand plan to all things in the universe. I believe in always moving forward, trusting my intuition, and having faith in the unknown.

Jullien Gordon – Purpose Finder

I love potluck dinners and I host them monthly, but I also believe in the philosophy behind potlucks—Give more than you take. This has been my business strategy, relationship strategy, and overall life strategy. What you leave over in a business transaction is value. What you leave over in a relationship is love. And what you leave over in life is legacy.

Nicholas Reese – Author of “Traffic and Trust”

I was 22, in college, and running an email marketing business with hundreds of clients.Out of the blue my buddy Markus Urban called me and said, “I’ve got an extra ticket for a 7 day cruise, do you want to go? It leave’s in 3 days.”

Up until that point, I had never dreamed of leaving my business for a week, but I knew I had a choice to make. After much deliberation, I skipped a week of class and emailed all my clients telling them I would be on a cruise.

My business didn’t burn to the ground like I originally expected, but from that point forward I was dead-set on building a business around purpose, flexibility, and lifestyle.

Jacob Sokol – Sensophy

Letting go. That was the biggest move I made toward living my life on purpose. If you look at all of the responses to 48 Online Authorities Reveal Their Most “Unrealistic” Accomplishments, 80% of them are really saying the same thing – THEY LET GO!

Steve Job’s sums it up perfectly here: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.” Now it’s your turn… LET GO!


Benny Lewis – Fluent in 3 Months

Meet as many people as possible. You simply cannot find your passion by burying your head in books/websites alone. Interaction with the world, questioning others, discussing, socialising, travelling, dating, partying, joining clubs, exercising with others, and every other activity that lets you associate (ideally face to face) with people can ultimately expose you to THEIR passions and give you a better idea of what yours may be.

David Garland – Rise to the Top

My belief in doing things my own way and not conforming as to what I should do really came from my parents. Not because they are massive risk takers, but they instilled a healthy (possibly too much?) self esteem in me that has been my guiding force to start things without experience, take risks and live life to the fullest.

Sophie Chiche – Life By Me

My choice to live a meaningful life came from a shift in my relationship with myself. One morning, just like that (after years of searching) I woke up and I was done with the story of not deserving a great life. Done. I was now going to do what brings me joy and not what does not. My internal experience changed my outer life almost instantly. New opportunities, new offers. Some relationships fell away and made room for new ones that were better fitted to my new belief about myself. I am enough. I am lovable. I deserve to be happy. And therefore spend my days doing something that turns me on. All the way.

George Kao – Sustainable Productivity Coach

My defining life experience was when my parents took me to a third world country when I was a child.  The impression of abject poverty placed a deep passion within me to do something about it.  Hence my integration of social and environmental sustainability into my business (even if I’m not in that field, the values drive how I run my business).

John Greathouse – Venture Capitalist & Writer at Info Chachkie

My father passed away when I was 35-yrs old. He literally worked until the day he prematurely died. Upon his death, I told myself that I would not do the same. Thus, at 43, after helping take two companies public and selling another for a substantial sum, I took several years off. That time away allowed me to understand that real wealth is measured in the degree to which you have time to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, coupled with the flexibility to avoid doing things you find displeasing.

Tina Su – Think Simple Now

So many experiences have directed me over the years to discover my passion and to live on purpose. And once permanent shift happens, once you embody what you’ve learned, it’s hard to separate it from yourself as a single event. Two experiences made big differences in my recollection: 1. The rocking chair test. 2. A process of discovering and defining your core values. I call this “your essential qualities”. Both of which I talk about in detail in my new guide Discover You Now – how to find your life purpose and discover how to make a living doing it. 

Mary Jaksch – Good Life Zen & A-List Blogging Bootcamps

The first Zen retreat changed my life forever. Quite apart from the fact that I became a Zen Master 20 years later, the way Zen has shaped my life and work has given me a strong sense of purpose and a huge zest for life. The two main points of change are that my life is focused on being insanely useful to others, and the other is that everything I do has got to be ethical. What I didn’t expect was that I’d become an online entrepreneur and create things like the A-List Blogging Bootcamps – but my Zen background keeps me grounded.

Arvind Devalia – Get the Life You Love

The life defining experience that changed my life forever was when I was in an orphanage in India and looked into the eyes of this little orphan girl and then the Catholic sister looking after her. Time seemed to come to a standstill in that moment of bliss and though it only lasted a few seconds, it felt like an eternity.

I felt an all engulfing, deep sense of love and I was forever ingrained with the knowing that love is all that matters. Ever since that day over ten years ago, I have passionately lived a life of contribution and looked to make a difference to others in every way I can.

Indeed, love is all that matters.

Sean Ogle – Location 180

The most defining experience I’ve had is the realization that I can support myself, and do things my way. As soon as I left my corporate job, I quickly found that I could run a business, and make time for all of the fun stuff I like doing. It’s a much healthier way to live, and had I not faced the uncertainty of leaving my job, I never would have realized what was possible. Oftentimes the greatest success comes from taking the greatest risk.

Debra Russell – Life and Business Coach

There have literally been hundreds of ‘defining’ moments that have helped shape my life but one of the most important was the day I created “The Rocking Chair Test” for myself. Through this simple process I discovered and committed to two principles for guiding my life — I created my ‘mission’ as some may say. I think of these as my North Stars. They’re always there helping me navigate my life through good times and times I’m not as thrilled about living through. Some of my passions have come and gone over the last thirty years but the clarity I have on how I live my life is always in front, calling me forward and guiding my decisions.

Matt Gartland – Accidental Creative

There is no certainty, only opportunity.

This is no whimsical belief. It’s a battle-tested truth. It’s steeped in my blood, sweat, and tears from hand-to-hand combat on the front lines of health, career, happiness, and reason. I’m not alone in this battle. Everyday I fight. You fight. We win some. We lose some. But the campaign never ends. The resistance never relents. And our dreams shall never die.

For those that are unplugged from the lies of linear living, we know that this struggle to discover true passion and purpose is iterative. This proves beyond a doubt an all-important fact of the universe…

Life is a circle re-circling.

I’ve learned this well. From academic supremacy and career lavishness to mutilations of health and happiness, I’ve walked in both the light and the darkness. If I’ve learned anything it’s this…

Everything and nothing are equals. There are no coincidences. There is no certainty. Only opportunity. And it rests on a knife point.

Sean Patrick Simpson – Songwriter and Publisher

There is no true right or wrong, good or bad, there just is. Be willing to live this life as an actor chooses his role to play – and realize that we, and everyone around us, are more than just their role, ideas, actions and identity. There is more to life than meets the eye. When you find yourself so bound to your own role and perspective, remember this grand stage of life, and be willing to see things from another perspective. Truth can be found in everything.

Lori Deschene – Tiny Buddha

I started living a life guided by my passions when I stopped believing that purpose meant doing something big. Previously, I thought I needed to change the world, or save the world, or travel the world, otherwise my actions wouldn’t be good enough. This paralyzed me because I had no idea where to start. I realized then that I needed to stop worrying about the big picture–how all the dots might connect–and focus instead of creating that first dot, following my heart. That first dot was one simple tweet, and since then I’ve taken it one passionate dot at a time.

Dharmesh Shah – Founder of HubSpot & On Startups

When I sold my first company and saw the money in my bank account. Money does not buy happiness. But, money does provide freedom, choices and the ability to pursue your passions.

Peter G. James Sinclair – Motivational Memo

Two experiences come to mind that can be simply defined as ‘locked away’ – the power of solitude.

At 28 years of age I locked myself away in a motel room for three days with a personal development book, the Gideon Bible – which came free with the room, a note book (otherwise known as a journal – and I have over 40 of these now in my possession – so you can say that journalling has become a habit that has overflowed into writing books and blogs) and a pen.

Then in my 30’s I locked myself away in the basement of a local university library and discovered the original works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and took notes furiously. Every word I devoured was like ‘liquid gold’ and impacted my life forever.

Tyler Tervooren – Advanced Riskology

The biggest defining experience I’ve had is realizing that as long as you’re not harming someone else’s life, no one really cares what you do with yours.  I used to be very scared of doing anything out of the ordinary because I was afraid of what people would think. Turns out, the more I tried it, the more I saw that most people are either interested in what you’re up to and want to know more, or they just don’t care and that’s the end of it.

The idea that you have to live up to some sort of outside expectation to live a comfortable, happy life is a myth. And, as long as no one really cares what you do with your time, you might as well do something fun, right?

Steve Kamb – Nerd Fitness

Above all else, I’ve put my focus into a single belief: help as many people as possible and the rest will work itself out. I spent my first 18 months writing articles for Nerd Fitness without making a dime – I built up an honest reputation for providing helpful advice and answering each and every email that came my way.  I didn’t worry about monetization, I didn’t worry about SEO, I didn’t worry about article length or keywords – I just worried about helping people. 13 months, two successful ebook launches, and one worldwide adventure later, things have worked out and I can’t stop smiling.

Suparna Bhasin – She Creates Change

I believe we were all born at this time with something we are here to do — it is our destiny and divine right – for me, I’ll stop at nothing to have it!

MeiMei Fox – Yoga Entrepreneur & Writer at Huffington Post

I believe in living the Life Out Loud. To me, this means staying true to your authentic heart path, as opposed to mindlessly reacting to events or making choices based on what you think you “should” do.

I only found my way by getting lost. As the great Sufi poet Rumi said, “Birds make great sky-circles of their freedom. How do they do it? They fall. And in falling, they are given wings.”

I married a man who convinced me, slowly but steadily over the years, to abandon my values. I wound up nearly a decade later in an open relationship – and miserable about it. After I left him, it took years of dedication to the spiritual path– therapy, yoga, meditation, reading books and attending lectures – to reconnect with my true self.

Now I am fiercely committed to doing the best job I can at being me, the MeiMei I am meant to be in the world. That includes speaking my truth in the interest of serving others, helping them to find their way out of their dark nights of the soul. My mantra is: Fear less, love more!

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Thank you all for your EPIC contributions!

Your lives amaze us. Your stories inspire us. You make the important possible.

The bar has officially been set.

Now it’s our turn…

What one moment or belief defines you?

Please share at least one in the comments below. Even a single sentence adds a ton to the community!

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Images courtesy of Stuck in Customs and blog post inspired by Jacob Sokol

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