Live Your Legend | How Complacency Killed the College Graduate (& the American Dream) + What YOU Can Do
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How Complacency Killed the College Graduate (& the American Dream) + What YOU Can Do

How Complacency Killed the College Graduate (& the American Dream) + What YOU Can Do

im fine thanks at the expense of my dreams

*Important Update: A short video you have to see…

Last week my friend Adam Baker released an cool 4-minute video trailer that’s been rippling across the Internet. It’s for his documentary “I’m Fine, Thanks“, which deals with the epidemic of Career Complacency and the lives of quiet desperation that so much of the world lives. It’s a movie about the moment people realize the life they’re living is not the life that’s true to their heart… and, as a result, what they decide to do about it.

His crew interviewed over 60 people around the U.S. and I had the honor of being one of them – you should see how much equipment their 5-person crew had in my office!! (A couple fun pics below). I have a feeling the results are going to change things in a big way.

Whether you’ve already seen this or not, take a few minutes and watch this video. It will open your eyes to a problem that we can all do something about. It will also prepare you for the below article.

No topic is closer to my heart or our purpose here at Live Your Legend.

The world needs to hear this message – and then do something about it.

So in its honor, I want to cover something that I think about most every day.

In fact Live Your Legend wouldn’t exist if this wasn’t such a massive problem in our world.

But it is and here we are.

As a friend, mentor, parent, student, teacher and active participant in the world, this is a story that needs to be told – And one that is on all of us to do something about.

Let’s dive in.

“Most men die at age 25 but are not buried until they are 70.”

– Benjamin Franklin

The Day the Dream Died…

Once upon a time when we were really young, we were given permission to dream and think anything imaginable. Some of us wanted to go to the moon and others wanted to become President. Nothing was off limits. In fact we were rewarded and encouraged to think and dream in such ways.

This was life for maybe the first 10 or 12 years. But then something odd happened. The world as we knew it shifted from listening and supporting our dreams, to telling us what our dreams should be.

Words like ‘practical’ and ‘realistic’ started to get thrown around.

No longer were these invigorating ideas so well received. The older you got, the less those who mattered in your life accepted your dreams.

More and more of the ex-dreamers around you started to adopt the same new frightening language. The people you looked up to, your mom and dad and teachers, all seemed to be scheming in the same way.

Then one day, say thirty years later, you come across a freshman in high school who says he wants to be an astronaut, and suddenly you catch yourself using those same words people you admired and respected once said to you. You tell this young freshman, “It’s fine to dream but you should think a little more practically.”

You realized the second the words came out of your mouth…you’ve become what you despised.

But you can hardly blame yourself. As a kid what were you to do when everyone you trusted and respected seemed to be telling you the same thing? Naturally, you conformed to your surroundings.

Next stop is college, where you get another, much more potent, dose of practicality.

You hurriedly choose an area of study (often times spending less time making the decision than what TV you want in your dorm room). Then you proceed to be trained to be a cog in a corporate wheel. Interests, passions and dreams get traded for hopes of being the guy who can claim the best job title, company or salary out of college – forgetting that none of that shit actually matters when it comes to being happy.

At this point you probably forgot you even wanted to do something different in the first place.

The stereotypical advice becomes an all too broken record: “Go out and get a good safe job with a reputable training program and start building your resume. You can always pursue your ideas later.”

But we all know how often ‘later’ actually comes. And most of you might remember a couple week’s back Warren Buffett comparing a life spent resume building to a life spent saving up sex for old age.

None the less, we graduate and become a corporate monkey.

And as we grow into our early twenties and beyond, we slowly start to notice ourself using some new words: O.K., fine, alright, not that bad, could be worse – in response to the questions “how’s life” or “how’s work?”

Without knowing it, a dream has been killed. A fire has gone out. The passion dies.  

Even worse, many forget the fire ever burned in the first place. It’s amazing how fast even a light drizzle can turn a bonfire into a pile of grey muck.

I’ve been there too…

Eight years ago, after listening to the people I respected, I found myself in a job society said I should have; great company, good paycheck— something I could really tell people about.

You know how long it lasted? Seven months, and not a day longer. And I knew within the first month I was not meant to be there. The inertia kept me there another six.

For some, the inertia, fear, laziness, whatever, keeps them working for a couple years or even a couple decades. The word “someday” quickly transforms into never. Then you awaken thirty-five years later, only to realize you got zero fulfillment out of the way you spent your time. Society didn’t benefit. You didn’t benefit. You might even be fat and lazy by now. Your family hardly saw you.

All for what? The money? The status?


What are you going to do with it now that you’ve missed half your life?

The majority of the working world (over 80% last I checked) condemn themselves to this existence of quiet desperation for the rest of their lives. The walk of the living dead has become a cultural march.

This is my nightmare.

I have spent time with far too many people living squarely in the middle of this scenario. I refuse to let it happen to me, and I refuse to let it happen to you. That’s why everyday I build upon what I do at Live Your Legend.


Complacency Is the Silent Killer

There are two reasons humans don’t change things:

1. Their current situation is enjoyable.


2. Their current situation isn’t painful enough.

Obviously, if we are all suffering from reason #1, all is good in the world. But with over 80% of people unhappy with their work, that leaves us with #2 as the culprit.

There is no more dangerous place to be. You think things are fine because everything is just “okay”. And that’s exactly how you stay in a job for a few decades, grinding out every single day.

I guarantee if your job is “not that bad” today, if you keep doing the same things, things will only deteriorate. As with anything in life, there is no standing still. Poor communication with your husband today, left unchanged, will not leave you in the same place a decade from now…

If your current situation isn’t painful enough, change doesn’t happen.

Being “fine” is not a good thing.

That is not the end goal. We are not here to be just ‘alright’ – to be average. No one benefits from a complacent life. If my friends spend their life counting down the days to the weekend, not only will they suffer, but so will I, and everyone around them (hence LYL’s tag line “change the world by doing work you love“).

But that is the root of the problem.

The school systems, college, graduate school, society and most cultures train the future generations that this complacency is a good thing. That it’s the reality to be expected.

And as long as that’s the case, over 80% of the world will remain unhappy with their work – and many of them will never find the motivation or inspiration to change. They’ll never know what it feels like to set the world on fire with work only they are capable of doing.

And we will all be worse off as a result.

But is that really what you want to work towards? All this studying, learning, doing – a lifetime of work just to be average?

I doubt it.

That path does not look pretty.

Don’t wait until the pain is unbearable. That time might never come. And what might you miss while you’re waiting?

Happiness not spent today does not equal more happiness tomorrow.

Complacently Needs to Be the New Change Agent

That is the only way to make things better.

If we believe things must be the way “they” say, then things will never change.

We must adopt the beliefs of the Passionate Worker:  

  1. Life is an active experience. You are the driver, not the passenger.
  2. A job, a career and work is our chance to do something that actually matters- to you and to others. Work is not something we are meant to endure. It’s something we are to embrace.
  3. The world will be better if you spend your time on things that light you on fire.
  4. It is possible to work on passion, have fun and help people at the same time.
  5. Doing work you love is a right. It is not some privilege reserved for the lucky few.
  6. The end goal is excitement, not complacency.

Doing things differently always starts with believing it’s possible.

It’s our duty to embody these beliefs, not just for ourselves but for those around us.

It’s on all of us, as students, teachers and mentors, to do something about it.

Here’s how to start…

Im fine thanks fulfilled not knowing

8 Steps to Killing Complacency & Writing Your Own Script

This goes for every one of us – both in how we conduct our own lives and how we encourage those who look up to us. Read these once as steps for yourself and then look over them again as steps of what you can do for those around you.

There’s someone looking to each of us for guidance. Live in a way you’d be proud of.

1. Encourage dreams, don’t kill them. The older we get, the less we seem to believe is possible. Mainly because the people above us, who we trust, respect and look up to, tell us it cannot be done. Listen to others’ dreams. Provide ideas. Don’t judge. Share in their excitement. Whether they’re five years old or fifty, be their support. Fuel the fire. Don’t put it out.

2. Promote constantly learning. Provide the tools to help people understand themselves. This is not the stuff taught in schools. Get them excited about learning who they are. Take personality tests. Understand strengths and natural talents. Your number one job role is always to become a self-expert.

3. Focus on strengths, not weaknesses. Spend as much time as possible learning and building upon what you’re best at. If you know what you’re good at and love doing, you are much less likely to settle for something different. Even if society tries to get you to value something else, once your forest fire catches, it’s near impossible to contain. Start the burning as early as possible.

4. Encourage constant exploration. Test assumptions. Try new things. Take nothing for granted. If ‘they’ all tell you it’s this way, ask why it’s not that way. Life is an experiment. Act accordingly.

5. Value experiences and emotions over things. When are we going to start listening to the real research behind the fact that money does not buy happiness? Come on. Racing through life to get yourself into 500k+ of debt just to ‘own’ a home is not what life’s about. How was that ever considered part of some American Dream? You should know better by now. You will never have it all. Stop worrying about it and start experiencing what matters.

6. Dream big every single day. An untended fire will eventually die. Spend a minimum of a few minutes each day entertaining and exploring your biggest ideas of what you want out of life. Think about the things that make your hair stand on end. Give the dreams attention. Tend to them like a newborn baby.

7. Act on those dreams daily. We know what happens when we put things off. Do something, no matter how small, to get you closer to that dream. Momentum is hard to notice in the beginning, but soon becomes hard to stop. It starts with starting. Watch the bricks pile up into a cathedral. No matter how tiny, create something every day.

8. Provide an environment that makes it certain. Environment is everything. If you spend your life around complacent people, you will experience the same fate. This goes for friends, coworkers, peer groups, lovers and family members. The people in your life will change your world – for better or worse. This is 100% in your control. The fastest way to do things you think are impossible is to start hanging around with people already doing them (that’s why I’m so fired up about the How to Connect with Anyone course I’m creating). Spend time around people who do things differently.

Complacency has a bigger impact on our world than we realize.

It’s the silent killer. Something has to be done.

You can either follow the broken script or write your own.

The good news is that we are in complete control of it – assuming we’re willing to take the reigns.

The above are not that hard. We can literally start doing them right this second. They can change everything. We are all a part of the solution.

Up until today, Ben Franklin has been more or less right that “most men die at age 25 but are not buried until they are 70”.

But that is not some fundamental scientific law.

All we have to do is disprove it.

You are the student. You are the teacher. Act accordingly.

This will not change on its own. Our community of 14,000 at Live Your Legend is a start. But it’s still just a start.

Think what would happen if each of you followed the above, both for yourself and for just one person close to you. And then if that person began to do the same. 14,000 quickly turns into a very very big number. Revolutions start with ripples.

What would that world look like?

We are going to find out.

I will not let past expectations limit our future. There is another way, a better way. We just have to give ourselves permission.

Permission to Explore.

Permission to Experiment.

Permission to be Who We Are.

The only thing holding us back is what others may have thought, or what others may have done in the past. But what do they know anyway? There is no rule that says we must live life and our careers the same way everyone did before us.

Quiet desperation is not a fact of life. “I’m fine” is not a way to live. 

We have a responsibility to give ourselves, and the next generation, a better alternative.

Think about the people in your life who look up to you. The sons and daughters. The friends. The colleagues.

Provide an environment that makes this change possible.

Because if not us, then who?

You’re more powerful than you realize.

It’s time to start doing something with it.

Here’s to changing norms…


P.S. Here are a few shots from the shoot they did in my office. The amount of people and equipment for a ‘simple’ interview blew my mind. Impressive couldn’t describe it…

I'm Fine Thanks Film crew in my San Francisco Office

the crazy equipment setup in the LYL HQ

scott dinsmore im fine thanks interview

interview fun!

Check out the “I’m Fine, Thanks” trailer and movie here.


Other images courtesy of Garrett Gill &  kelsey

  • Chinh
    Posted at 13:02h, 29 May Reply

    AMAZING post. This concept is so near and dear to my heart. It is exactly where I first began my journey of discovering my passion and embracing who I was meant to be in this life. You write so well, thank you for sharing this message with the world!

  • Scott
    Posted at 13:19h, 29 May Reply

    Well hopefully you can tell how near and dear it is to mine too! Glad you resonated. The world needs to hear this message.

  • Bryan Weller
    Posted at 19:35h, 29 May Reply

    Amazing post. Sometimes i read something and want to contribute more, but the post is so complete that I am at a loss. I know this feeling, this phenomenon. I am, as we speak, working to break free of this problem. I’m bookmarking this specific post to read again and again. Thank you.

    • Scott
      Posted at 22:51h, 29 May Reply

      Adding this comment contributes more than you realize. Thanks for being a part of what we’re building Bryan!

  • Annie Andre
    Posted at 06:36h, 30 May Reply

    This topic is near and dear to my heart too. i used to quietly suffer in silence thinking there was something wrong with me for wanting something different despite being successful by world standards.. Now i just want to scream from the rooftops that it doesn’t have to be that way..

    Thanks for being a leader forging the way for so many people to step forward and have the courage to pursue their dreams.

    • Scott Dinsmore
      Posted at 08:28h, 07 June Reply

      Exactly- The more we can show the world there is another way and that others are doing it, the more we can get the world to wake up. That’s really why LYL exists!

  • Chuck Frey
    Posted at 07:29h, 30 May Reply

    Great post, Scott! The underlying problem is that the majority of people don’t realize just how much they have been lulled into complacency. Dull comfort is easier and more predictable than the unknown of pursuing a dream, so most people settle, conform and live in ways that are frighteningly similar to the majority of their peers. These messages are reinforced by their work environment, their leisure pursuits and the media – you’ve got to fit in, or you’ll be lonely.

    From time to time, they get a glimpse of their once-deeply-held dreams – perhaps reflected in the eyes of a young, passionate idealist. But soon those echoes die away, and they return to the routine of what they’re “supposed” to be doing.

    That’s why I wrote Up Your Impact: 52 Innovative Strategies to Add Value to Your Work – to help people realize they don’t have to hold back, they don’t have to conform. They can identify opportunities to grow and be passionate where they are currently planted, or they can uproot themselves and find a new environment that is more friendly to their creative musings.

    • Scott Dinsmore
      Posted at 08:24h, 07 June Reply

      It such a scary cycle Chuck. What’s inspiring me is that so many of us are now working to change it. Glad you’re in my corner!

  • JP Michel
    Posted at 08:47h, 30 May Reply

    Hi Scott, great post!
    Quick question: What are your recommendations for discovering our strengths? What is the best way to learn about what we’re best at?

  • Tanner Colton
    Posted at 09:50h, 30 May Reply

    It has been by the motivation and unknown mentorship of yourself and many others that I find myself finally asking the right questions and taking the right actions. Having recently started writing my own blog in an effort to help myself and others find a way out of the boxes that we are put in, I feel this post in my heart and soul. I can not wait for the film to come out, I know that we all together can make it happen. Thanks so much Scott!

    • Scott Dinsmore
      Posted at 08:32h, 07 June Reply

      Ask right questions and everything follows. Awesome to hear youre waking up. Thanks for being a part of this revolution Tanner!

  • Paige | simple mindfulness
    Posted at 12:25h, 30 May Reply

    I was in tears watching the video. It’s how I started my life and lived for the first seven years of my career. And then I left it all to discover my new life. I am intensely passionate about spreading this message as well (Tyler published my story at Adv. Risk. last month). It kills me to hear people limit themselves so severely. I’m doing whatever I can to ensure that my kids grow up with a very different message from the one I got.

    Scott – Thank you so much for all the absolutely amazing work that you do!!

    • Scott Dinsmore
      Posted at 08:35h, 07 June Reply

      That’s exactly what will change the world Paige- show the next generation what’s possible. Tylers a good friend and congrats on the profile! Nice to have those 7 yrs out of the way, eh…

  • Rose Byrd
    Posted at 12:48h, 30 May Reply

    Scott, this is such an important post! I don’t know if you realize it or not–but bringing this “follow your passion/legend/dreams” post to all high school seniors would actually save some lives. Here in our community, we recently lost a physician friend to suicide because he learned at age 60 he should have never been a doctor, basically. I am urging you to get this word out to as many high schools and colleges as possible.

    • Scott Dinsmore
      Posted at 08:38h, 07 June Reply

      What a tragedy. We absolutwly have to catch this early. I am doing all I can over here but I cannot do it alone. I need all of your help in spreading this message. Together is where the change happens- and it’s already well on its way!

  • Complacency will kill you « F the Desk
    Posted at 15:32h, 30 May Reply

    […] Scott Dinsmore recently wrote in an email: […]

  • Sonya at EmergingDarkHorse
    Posted at 15:55h, 30 May Reply

    Thank you for this post. I was so excited to see a brilliant movie under way with a beautiful message for the world. I instantly went to kicks tarter and pledged what I could to support them. YAY!

    • Scott Dinsmore
      Posted at 08:40h, 07 June Reply

      Awesome. Thank you!

  • Vishnu
    Posted at 05:51h, 31 May Reply

    Thanks Scott for sharing this video. had not gotten a chance to see it until reading about it here.

    Taking small steps towards our dreams daily is the only way to achieve them. I’m trying to take a small step every day.

  • Sarah Hart
    Posted at 12:11h, 31 May Reply

    WOW, Scott. Thank you so much for this post. Brilliantly written, and one of the most important things for people to hear.

    I captured some of it here to spread the word —>

    I knew and believed in all of this before I entered the workforce, and STILL managed to lose sight of it somehow.

    Thank you for reminding me 🙂

  • John
    Posted at 05:18h, 01 June Reply

    Thank You So much. The timing of this could not be better for me personally. This documentary will make its mark with everyone help.
    For me personally it has reinforced my recent changes in “life”.
    A nasty divorce, working the corporate world, having a “good life” then BAM losing everything.
    I fought for my the right to see my children who are my world.I now have them.
    I have gone back to being engaged, present in the moment, focused,meditating, eating healthy and with strong conviction to do what I am passionate about. Being creative and spreading the word of “life” to all via my new soon to be released website.
    Stay tuned its coming soon.
    For now
    Cheers and thank you once again from my mind , body and soul.

  • W Brian Duncan (aka IPBrian)
    Posted at 07:01h, 01 June Reply

    This project looks awesome and I for one and happy to support a bunch of crazy dreamers living their dreams! #Donated

    • Scott Dinsmore
      Posted at 12:05h, 05 June Reply

      Awesome to have you a part of it Brian! Where would we be without crazy dreamers anyway???

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  • Jason Bilog
    Posted at 17:54h, 13 June Reply

    Fantastic post Scott. As a recent college grad and new reader, your thoughts on this issue really spoke to me. I think for many of us just starting out, it can be overwhelming to pursue our dreams against a society that tells us just getting by is an accomplishment. There’s more to life than complacency. It’s excitement. Thanks for writing this. Bookmarking this post.

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  • saltna
    Posted at 16:28h, 10 July Reply

    Well hopefully you can tell how near and dear it is to mine too! Glad you resonated. The world needs to hear this message.

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  • CJ
    Posted at 10:27h, 07 October Reply

    But it looks like they live in a van down by the river.

    Sincerely though, a good way capitalizing venture they’ve pulled. Congratulations on building this idea. Sadly though, it seems we are often fooled into thinking we can obtain peac believe we will find peace and fulfillment in this life.

    “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things things will be added unto you” Jesus, Matthew 6:33

  • Mitchell
    Posted at 00:23h, 24 October Reply

    Wow that was strange. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked
    submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Anyway, just wanted to say great blog!

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