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Episode 321: Living Life in Awe with John O’Leary [BONUS]

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"Life never ever takes place inside a vacuum. The butterfly effect is alive and real and impacting all our lives today. Just as when we flap our wings, we are impacting the lives of those around us."

John O Leary

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When my friend John O’Leary was nine years old, a horrific accident left him with burns on 100% of his body, and a slim chance of survival. He defied the odds to make a remarkable recovery and has spent his life since on a mission to share the lessons he learned about overcoming adversity.

John and I met years ago when we spoke on the same stage, and I can attest that he is one of the most authentic and inspirational communicators that I know. In fact, his message has now reached over 1 million people in 14 countries.

When I found out John has a new book coming out today, I invited him to be on the show to talk about it. His new book is titled: In Awe: Rediscover Your Childlike Wonder to Unleash Inspiration, Meaning, and Joy, and shows us how to recapture and harness our childlike qualities in order to become more engaged, successful, and fulfilled, as individuals and as leaders. He’s also donating 100% of his profits and giving some valuable bonuses for anyone who gets his book this week (details here).

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Why John believes we will re-emerge from the so-called COVID-19 pandemic, not to the way things were, but how they could always have been.
  • How John and his team are staying engaged, employed, and looking forward after losing 94% of their future revenue on March 12.
  • The value of learning from the next generation instead of trying to teach them.
  • The five senses that kids tap into with ease that adults lose touch with – and how to reconnect with them.
  • Why the smartest people in the room are never the ones who think they have all the answers.

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View Transcript

[INTRODUCTION]

 

Hal Elrod: Hey goal achievers, it’s Hal Elrod. Welcome to this week’s episode of the Achieve Your Goals podcast. You’re going to hear a conversation that I just had with my friend John O’Leary. He’s actually returning to the podcast; we had him on a year or so ago. If you don’t know John, when he was nine years old, a horrific accident left him with burns on 100% of his body and a very slim chance of survival. John went on to defy the odds, make a miraculous recovery. Since then he has embarked on a mission to share the life-changing lessons that he has learned about overcoming adversity, an undertaking he has addressed with increased urgency as our world now faces unprecedented challenges. 

 

Through his professional speaking engagements, John O’Leary has delivered his message to over 1 million people in 14 countries and at 1,600 events for clients like Lego and Southwest Airlines and Microsoft and Pepsi. I mean, he’s one of the best speakers in the world. That’s how we met earlier as we shared a stage a few years ago. We hit it off and a real bromance was developed. 

 

When I had him on last time it was… I’m not sure the exact year, but in 2016 he shared his story in the number one national bestselling book On Fire. Then his new book, which we’re going to talk about today, it’s called In Awe: Rediscover Your Childlike Wonder to Unleash Inspiration, Meaning, and Joy. It just came out yesterday. I just found out from John, he’s donating 100% of the profits this week, for the first week of all the sales, which just so you know, if you’re an author, that’s usually your biggest week of sales, right? The first week is the biggest week. He’s donating 100% of the profits to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America. He is a big brother and he was a little brother when he was a kid, so it’s an organization that he believes in strongly. I was a big brother 10 years ago. I believe in it as well. 

 

You’re about to hear from a guy who’s just one of the most genuine, heartfelt human beings that I know. I love this guy and I think that you will too. Without further ado, goal achievers, here is my conversation with the one and only John O’Leary.

 

[INTERVIEW]

 

Hal Elrod: John, let’s just keep this conversation going, man. I just hit record. I think we should keep talking. How are you doing? 

 

John O’Leary: Well, I’m in. 

 

Hal Elrod: Dude, I’m really excited that you’re here, that we’re here. This is the second time we’ve talked in front of an audience on Achieve Your Goals podcast, and then I’ve been on your show I think once, maybe twice. I don’t know. Two times. 

 

John O’Leary: Maybe twice. 

 

Hal Elrod: Yeah. How are you doing right now? We’re in the middle of this COVID-19 global pandemic. You’ve been through extraordinary adversity in your life. That’s part of what has made you the leader that you are today. How are you right now? What’s going on?

 

John O’Leary: I’ll begin I think where maybe some of your listeners might be. On March 12th and thereafter we lost organizationally about 93% or 94% of our future revenues. Most of our revenue comes from speaking in front of organizations, consulting with them afterwards or selling books in the back of the room right afterwards. The vast majority of the business that I’ve built depends upon John being on a plane in front of large groups of organizations and large groups of people, sharing the good, sharing the possibility within their lives and the next steps to take to get there. That’s gone for now. Fundamentally, structurally, organizationally, we’re struggling at that level. Yet I’m keeping my team engaged, employed, looking forward and pivoting into the unknown, believing without doubt that our best days are in front of us. It certainly has created some adversity, without a doubt, organizationally and financially.

 

On the other side of the coin though, because I’m normally on the road, what it means now is I’m home all the time. I’m a father. I’m a husband. I’m a son. I’m a Christian. I love walking. I love hiking. I love hobbies. I love playing the piano. There’s a whole lot of things I love to do and because of work, I sometimes can’t get there. For 49 consecutive nights I’ve tucked my kids in. That’s never happened. For 49 consecutive mornings I’ve been there for breakfast. I’ve come back from work to make them lunch. We’ve played ping pong. We’ve gone swimming. We’ve played the piano together. We’ve made marshmallows. We prayed. We’ve made lists of things we’re grateful for. In some regards, this is a season of profound adversity but also one ripe with opportunity and togetherness and faithfulness and family. “John, how are you doing, man?” I’m actually doing awesome. I believe we’re going to come through this thing not only individually but collectively far stronger than we entered into it.

 

Hal Elrod: Yeah. I think that’s true with most adversity. As you said, it’s both individually, personally within ourselves and our families, but then collectively as a society. That’s interesting. I’m experiencing a little bit of that in terms of I’m a speaker as well as you— I think that’s how we met, if I remember correctly— but less of my business is around speaking. I’m curious in terms of how you’re doing that and having this team. Are you guys pivoting to do virtual keynotes? Or where are you guys at with that right now and what it looks like moving forward?

 

John O’Leary: We also have a podcast, as you know, and so we’ve been able to monetize that. We’re able to grow that. We have consulting that we are still doing, but now we’re growing it more effectively and intentionally. We do webcast videos for keynotes but we also do follow-ups now with clients. We’re doing a whole lot of work, Hal, that we know we’ve wanted to do digitally but we’ve been too “successful” and busy to do it. 

 

Now we have this crazy, painful, agonizing punch in the face to all of us, which is either the time in life when you climb back into the hole and you wait for it to pass, hoping that it might someday pass, or you raise your sail and you go in a direction that you would not have chosen. I would not have chosen this. I love my old life. But I’ve got to be honest, Hal, I’m enjoying this life even more. When we return to normal, man, I don’t want to return in the same way that I woke up in early February. I want to wake up different and transformed and hopefully way more effective and better because of it.

 

Hal Elrod: Yeah. I think that’s a good point in terms of people going, “I want things to go back the way they were.” While I often share that same desire, I think that the idea is going, “Rather than return to the way things were, how can we emerge to the way that things could always be?” You mentioned you’re doing a lot of things now that you weren’t doing then, not only professionally in your business but personally. Same thing. You were rattling out the activities, I’m like, “Yeah, I’m playing ping pong more with my kids, and “Yeah, I’m pushing them on the swing. We’re playing Monopoly all the time and playing cards all the time. I’m taking breaks in the middle of the day to play with the kids because they’re at home.” “How are you doing right now” is a question that there’s no kind of one direct answer. It’s kind of a loaded question. 

 

John O’Leary: You and I actually asked that of one another before we recorded and both of our answers were like 11 minutes long. Which I think speaks to how complex life is right now, but also how real you and I are together. I’m not great but I’m pretty awesome. There’s some real adversity, there’s some stuff I’m dealing with but for the most part, man, we’re hanging in there. We’re building something, I think, that is going to touch lives not only in the short term but for years and decades to come. 

 

Hal Elrod: Yeah. I want to talk about, you’re doing a couple of things right now to help do exactly that for people. You have a new book that is out. I think when the podcast releases it’ll have come out yesterday, May 5th 2020-

 

John O’Leary: That’s right. 

 

Hal Elrod: -is the publish date. The book is called In Awe. I love the subtitle because I think it’s so needed right now. It’s “Rediscover your childlike wonder to unleash inspiration, meaning, and joy.” If there’s anything for me that’s the underlying, the meaning, the purpose of this pandemic, this crisis, it’s exactly that. It’s “how do we tap into what really matters in life?” Which isn’t really tangible, right? It’s not the stuff. It’s not the money. It’s the inspiration, the meaning and the joy that you’re talking about.

 

What I love too is— and we’ll talk more about this in a few minutes— but you’re doing an In Awe 21 Day Challenge to help people actually just go beyond passively reading a book. Which we know most people read a book, they finish a book, they don’t do anything with it except for start reading another book. I want to talk about that, the In Awe 21 Day Challenge because that’s a tangible thing for people to do to actually create that meaning, inspiration and joy in their life. Let’s just talk from the beginning. How’d you come to write the new book, In Awe?

 

John O’Leary: Let me begin by sharing with you the first cover I got back from the publisher. It was a picture of me, Hal, with my arms kind of crossed smugly and I was wearing a sport coat looking at the reader like, “I’m awesome.”

 

Hal Elrod: I’m awesome. 

 

John O’Leary: I wrote back an email like, “Hey, guys, did you read the book before you designed the cover?” What they eventually came up with, and I think it’s really just beautiful, is it’s a blue cover with clouds floating overhead. Along the cover you see little clouds. Then there’s this one brilliant red kite floating above it all with a string coming down to a person. You don’t know who’s holding it but the idea is that it’s you. 

 

Why create a cover like that for a book like this? I think the rationale was because as a presenter I would see adult leaders somewhat disengaged, almost bored by life, almost as if we were just kind of getting through this thing. Whatever the thing was: the meeting, the workday, the marriage, the… We were just enduring this thing, whatever the thing was. Then I would leave the conferences, go into schoolhouses. I love hanging out with kids when I’m out of town, just speaking to these schools. I would see these kids skip into the school building and I would see these kids like run into the classroom. They would smile more frequently and they would laugh more loudly and they would raise their hands when I asked questions. They were completely engaged in life. When I would ask questions, Hal, like, “Is tomorrow going to be better than today?” Everyone would say yes. When I asked how many were artists, all of them would say, “Of course that’s me.”

 

When we grow older I think we begin to lose a little bit of that whimsical zest for life. We lose a little bit of that passion for being curious, for connecting with those around us, for experiencing everything as if it’s the very first time we’ve experienced it. The book was me recognizing what my children have— and I have four— what kids in classrooms have— and I’ve seen a lot— is what I think we adults need to return to in order to be as effective as leaders as possible going forward. It unpacks what kids have, why we lose it and how to return to it.

 

Hal Elrod: The book, we’re learning from the next generation rather than trying to teach the next generation. Learning what do the kids have within them that we at one point had within us, that a lot of us lose as we get older and change it and the world kind of smacks us around a little bit, right?

 

John O’Leary: Right. I would imagine some of your listeners right now are thinking, “Man, I don’t even like kids and I didn’t like myself when I was a kid. I don’t want to become a kid again.” This isn’t about being childish. There’s a lot of examples of leaders, whether they’re political leaders or corporate leaders or family leaders right now who are very childish, very childish. It’s very common. Open up your Twitter feed for examples. Watch the evening news for examples. A lot of kids running around wearing long shoes, man, and suits. We don’t need to be childish. We need to be childlike. We need to have our eyes looking forward again. We need to be working hard when we work but playing hard when we play and resting in between, and understanding how to connect more effectively with the things that actually matter. Kids have a lot to teach us about life if we want to pay attention and learn from them. 

 

Hal Elrod: I know in the book you talk about the five senses that kids tap into that we’ve kind of lost touch with. What are those five senses and how are those something for us to be more, not childish but childlike? How can we incorporate those into our, whether it’s work life, personal life, whatever?

 

John O’Leary: In the research, obviously, we all have senses, the ability to see and hear and touch and smell and all these things that fade as we age. That’s a fact. There are others that fade as we age. One of them, the very first one we write about in the book is the sense of wonder for children. Hal, you have kids. Kids love to ask questions. Their favorite question is three letters long: why? Then you tell them why the sky is blue and then they follow up with another question. Why? Then you tell them that. Eventually you’re like, “Dude, it’s just blue because of this. Now go. Go back inside, find your mom.” “You have to go to bed.” “Why?” “Brush your teeth.” “Why?” “Get your shoes on.” “Why?” They want to know why but it’s not to be difficult. It’s because they’re naturally inquisitive. They want to know the rationale. They want to know the cause of these things. 

 

Then eventually, I think primarily through education, but that’s not only at school. It’s also the fault of we who are growing these kids up. We have taught them that there’s one answer and those who get it right excel. They get 100%. They go to the front of the class and they excel into the next level. We have begun to generate this whole generation of kids that think there’s one pathway forward and it’s actually to stop asking questions. It’s one of the senses we had as we were kids and it’s one of the senses we lose first as we grow. 

 

Hal Elrod: Wow. One of my good friends, Jon Berghoff. Do you know Jon Berghoff, by the way? 

 

John O’Leary: I do, man. Great guy. 

 

Hal Elrod: Cool. Yeah, so John always says that when you ask a new question you change the future before you even come up with the answer. Just asking a new question. I think too much of us— I know I’ve been guilty of this— it’s that we’re trying to always offer answers to ourselves and to others versus always having that curiosity that you talk about. Most leaders, they’re voracious learners. They have that. That curiosity is what drives them to keep learning and growing and getting better and better and better. 

 

John O’Leary: Let me just speak to that for a moment. One of our clients is Microsoft. One of the senior leaders there shared with me, “John, we used to be the smartest guys in the room and we knew it. Now we recognize that we are the smartest people in the room because we don’t have all the answers. We just show up with all the questions.” He says, “John, it’s because we are showing up every single day in every single meeting with a beginner’s mind.” 

 

What Microsoft is trying to model— and it’s one of the most successful businesses in the history of the world— is this idea of showing up with wonder. It’s about asking all these questions. It’s not just why. It’s why not? What if? Who says? Just really change the way we view something and how we can move forward in a new, better, different way afterwards. It will lead to a far better future than the one we currently have.

 

Hal Elrod: I think that returning to this childlike wonder, to me it seems, or maybe people listening, it’s counterintuitive, especially in the workplace. If I’m listening, if I’m playing devil’s advocate… I know you, John. I love you, John. I know how brilliant you are. If I’m playing devil’s advocate, I’m like, “Okay, well, yeah, does this apply to me? I’m a hard-charging entrepreneur” or “I’m an executive.” Childlike wonder, that’s cute. That’s a nice, soft subject but why is it so important in the workplace? In real time why does it matter?

 

John O’Leary: Again, it’s the first of five senses. The first answer is to recognize it’s part of a larger mosaic. To answer the question specifically around the beginner’s mind or around asking the right questions, the world is changing at such a radical pace. If you did not know that in February, you know it now. It is unbelievable the pace of change. As fast as it is right now, it’s never going to be this slow again. If you think, “Man I’m a hard-charging executive. I’m an entrepreneur. Get out of my way,” you’re going to be on the losing side of history here shortly. What great organizations are doing is actually to empower their team members to not just take marching orders and go. “Walk into the fire.” “Yes, sir,” and we go off into the fire. Wrong. It is actually to kick the tires and to ask the question “Why?” and “Is there a better way?” “Why do we do things the way we do them around here and is there a better way?” It’s the very first tenet that we unpack within this book. 

 

I would suggest to anyone who s being a little bit cynical right now, first of all, you are not alone. The person to your left and right is probably as well because they also are an adult. We kind of creep into that cynicism. I’m begging you and imploring you to remove that mask because it’s stealing away not only your joy for the moment as you race forward, but also your ability to create a future far greater than the one you’re currently thinking is possible.

 

Hal Elrod: I did a podcast a couple of weeks ago called Using Your Past to Transform Your Present really similar to what you’re talking about right now. I had a breakthrough just a few weeks ago realizing I’ve been suffering the last year from the side effects of chemotherapy, which have led to anxiety and depression and this brain fog and just some real mental health challenges. 

 

A few weeks ago I was asking myself— it was in the morning and I’m doing my miracle morning— and I go, “When have I been depressed before?” I’m asking the questions and I’m going, “When was I depressed before?” 2008 was the last and really the only time in my life when I was really majorly depressed. I went, “How did I overcome it then?” I go, “I created this morning routine and it ended up becoming the miracle morning, but it was this morning ritual.” I go, “I’m still doing the miracle morning, so why am I still feeling stuck in this?” Then I got really curious and I went, “Wait a minute,” and I actually broke it down. I broke down all the elements of my morning practice and I compared them one by one to 2008. In 2008 I had a beginner’s mindset. I had never had a morning ritual. I had never meditated. Never did affirmations. Never visualized. Never did journaling. Never did any of those things. When I began I was curious. I was like a kid. I was open. I was trying to figure this all out. 

 

Like anything, if you are a kid that learns to play basketball, you go to basketball practice, you learn the fundamentals. I started out with the fundamentals of meditating and doing these various practices. As I compared, what I realized is my current miracle morning, my practice is radically different than it was back then. As I broke it apart, I realized I’m missing the fundamentals. I think we fall into this trap a lot. If you are an executive, even a CEO, the longer you are at something, the more likely it is that you’ve strayed away from the fundamentals that got you to the dance, as they say. 

 

That was it for me. I went, “Oh, my miracle morning, it’s become mediocre. It doesn’t look the way that it did. I’ve gotten so far away from those fundamentals.” Just a couple of weeks ago I got back to the fundamentals and just like in 2008, within a matter of days the depression lifted, within a matter of days my clarity skyrocketed. The point being just reinforcing what you’re saying that that curiosity, asking why, asking those questions and really applying the beginner’s mindset. Right now when we’re in the midst of what we’re in the midst of, there’s no better time to really reinvent ourselves as you’re doing, reinvent our businesses, reinvent our lives. I love that.

 

John O’Leary: Your life is exhibit A of someone who reflects by asking these questions, learning important lessons and then sharing them with the rest of us. That’s phenomenal. The transformation not only in ’08 but again in 2020 began with you asking, “Wait, what happened? What if?” All these questions that have led you on this wild journey forward, Hal. 

 

It’s important for those of us in positions of leadership to understand that everything that exists today at one point did not. At one point it was not there and it seemed as if it might even be impossible. Then some curious person came along and said, “What if?” As we are dealing with COVID-19, as we are dealing with skyrocketing unemployment, as we are dealing with some sagging markets and everything else going on both societally but also individually, I would suggest to you that the best way to step into the storm is not with explanation points but with question marks. Then watch how you pivot into this thing. Watch how you make yourself a whole new being going forward.

 

Hal Elrod: Yeah. I think there’s a better version for all of us on the other side of this. Talk about this 21 Day Challenge. It’s the In Awe 21 Day Challenge. From what I understand, you started to become clear that the toll that this pandemic was taking was beyond what any of us imagined. Why did you decide to offer the In Awe 21 Day Challenge for people? What does this entail? What are the reactions you’re receiving?

 

John O’Leary: The day before the Super Bowl I was on the phone with an executive, and I asked if he had any anxieties at all around what was taking place in China. His response to me, and I’ll never forget it, and I won’t quote him by name, was, “John, to be honest, it’s not my problem. It’s their problem.” 

 

Hal Elrod: Oh, wow.

 

John O’Leary: I think that’s frequently the way we view the world through the lens that “It doesn’t affect me, so forget about it.” Except it does. Life never, ever, ever, ever takes place inside a vacuum. The butterfly effect is alive and real and impacting all of our lives today. Just as when we flap our wings, we are impacting the lives of those around us. That’s number one. 

 

Secondly, back in 2018 we had unemployment that was historically low, stock markets that were historically high. 1.5 million Americans attempted suicide. When life was going along just brilliantly well, the sun was shining, there was no need, it felt like we were on top of the world. One and a half million of us felt that pang of depression, and sadness, and hopelessness, and despair and came to a point when we thought we would be better off not here. That was when everything was going great, Hal, publicly at least, societally at least, market-wise at least. As COVID-19 began to spread, we realized, man, we’re going to be forced into isolation. There are going to be people losing their jobs. There are going to be people feeling utter despair. Suicide has affected my family, my wife’s family and the families of just about everybody that I know and love. 

 

To push back against that and to provide a little bit of hope, we created a 21-day challenge to give individuals around the world one thing to do every day to grasp onto hope. The light at the end of the tunnel is not a coming train. We wanted to remind them that there’s something they can do, that they are not alone and that the best days remain in front of them. I wrote this little program with the help of my friends, a couple colleagues at the office. We put it out there into cyberspace and have had thousands and thousands and thousands of people go through this thing. There’s no charge. It’s just a gift. I think it’s doing what we had hoped, but we also recognize the journey forward continues to be hard. 

 

I think it’s important we recognize, Hal, that we cannot do this thing by ourselves. We never were able to, but COVID-19 is reminding us that we’re actually intended to be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. That we’re intended to roll up our sleeves and seek for opportunities to make a difference for those around us. In doing so, it will absolutely impact our life as well.

 

Hal Elrod: The challenge, is it something that’s embedded within the book? Or it sounds like people are already going through it. Just so I’m clear logistically there, what’s the correlation between the book In Awe and the In Awe 21 Day Challenge?

 

John O’Leary: I steal shamelessly from the book for content for some of the questions but they live alone. They’re married but they live alone. If you want to take the 21-day challenge, go to www.readinawe.com. At the top of that page there’s a little space there for your email. Hit send and tomorrow morning it’s on and we will do life together for the next 21 days. I hope folks join me there and I hope they share it. I hope if they have any questions or needs, they hit reply.

 

Hal Elrod: I love that. That’s something that me and my team have been talking about, how can we lead with our group through challenges? Guys, until we figure out a miracle morning new challenge to get through COVID-19, I would invite everybody to go to… It’s www.readinawe.com. Yeah, I’m going to take the challenge, man.

 

John O’Leary: Awesome.

 

Hal Elrod: I love your heart. I love your leadership. Talk a little bit about what else is in the book. I know there’s a lot of heartwarming stories of the lessons you’ve learned from your own kids. In fact, why don’t we start there? What’s the greatest lesson that your kids have taught you?

 

John O’Leary: The joy of life. By the way, I don’t have a list of talking points I’m ready to share with you. I just want to share my heart. What my kids have taught me most about life and leadership and growing a business and growing a family is the gift of just soaking up the minutia. The joy of dessert, man. The joy of taking the dog around the block as the sun sets. The joy of pausing to watch an earthworm do her thing and move a little leap forward into life. They get the value of the moment. We race right through it. 

 

One of my favorite senses is actually sense number three, which is immersion. Which it’s just another term for being focused and engaged in whatever you’re doing when you are doing it. We, you and I, and many others believe it’s very effective to multitask, and yet all research says that multitasking is completely ineffective. That it’s way more effective to either smoke marijuana while you are working, show up drunk or sleep less than an hour a night before you work. We think we’re getting more done when the phone’s in the right hand, the laptop’s in our left and our spouse is staring at us, and yet that’s not the way to go through life. I teach within the book how to be highly effective in whatever you’re doing when you’re there. I also remind them of the joy of being a child. When you’re a kid, when the bell rings, you’re in school. Then it rings again and you’re at recess and you’re focused fully on play. Not anything else, just play. Then you come back in and it’s time for English class or science. Then the bell rings and you’re at lunch. Then you come back after the bell ringing and you go off to a little rest time. 

 

I don’t think we, in our society, do a phenomenal job slowing down to focus. When you work, work like a dog. When you come home, play like a puppy. Make sure you take time for Sabbath to truly rest, to truly recharge yourself so that you can return the following day to become even more effective in whatever you desire. Immersion’s a beautiful sense not only for what you can do in one day, which is awesome, but also what you can do over the course of your life when you have your ladder leaned against the right wall.

 

Hal Elrod: What’s your, if you had to sum up, your hope for what this book is going to do? I know as an author, I’m sure you’ve invested countless hours into writing this thing. It becomes your baby, it becomes your life, it becomes your world for months on end, if not years on end. John, what’s your biggest hope, for anybody listening, that your book, In Awe, the new book, what will that do for people? What’s your biggest hope that it will do for people, for society, for the world? 

 

John O’Leary: Right. In the book I do share some of the research around the fact of you even being alive. What is the biological chance that Hal Elrod is in the room? In the house, baby. If you do the math and you look at mom and dad and you look at the chance of them coming together right on time, Hal… If it’s a moment earlier or later, you’re not in the room, your sister’s in the room or you’re… It’s not you, man. It’s completely different DNA. What’s the likelihood of you being here? The answer is less than 1 in 400 trillion. That’s just you. 

 

That doesn’t even begin to say, and our earth is floating just the perfect distance from the sun, man, to sustain life. All these things that we almost take it for granted. I want people to go into the day shocked at the beauty, at the wonder of their life, and at the ability of their life to do phenomenal things going forward. No longer yawn or endure. Deal with the misery of our days, but go through it as a child does naturally with profound gratitude for all that they have. It’s first time living, man. 

 

That’s part of it. I also want to give people not only a directional area to go like, “Hey, I want you to be a childlike leader again,” but also the specific steps to get there. I don’t want this to be a pep rally where people leave feeling deeply motivated and then they go on and read the next book called War and Peace and they forget all about the book In Awe. I want people to be radically changed as they progress through this thing, in the way they lead, in the way they work, in the way they play, at the way they look at life: the life they’ve lived, the life they’re currently leading and the one they could live into going forward. 

 

Hal Elrod: I can’t imagine a better way of being than you just described. That, to me, is the meaning of life, the purpose, the joy. I’ve known you for years and you live it. You are that person that expresses… You live joy and love and gratitude and you exude it for everybody that’s around you. That’s why we love talking to you. That’s why I was looking forward to our conversation today. 

 

If someone’s listening to this, I guess here would be my question. The book came out yesterday. The challenge is available today. If somebody orders the book today, would you encourage them to read the book first or just order the book, join the challenge, they’ll start the challenge tomorrow, the book will get here in a couple of days? What’s the best strategy for someone to get the most out of what you’re providing right now?

 

John O’Leary: The very first thing is when I say yes to an interview it’s never to sell a book. If you want to buy the book, awesome. It is beautiful. It’s a couple years of my heart and soul and experiences into it. It will stir you to tears and you will laugh out loud and you’ll be moved. If you want it, awesome. It’s easy enough to find. It’s called In Awe. 

 

I just encourage folks, whether they’re a huge book reader or not, go to the challenge. There is no charge. It will encourage you to keep moving forward in your life. If you decide to do both, phenomenal. You do not need to wait for the delivery person to drop off the cover of the book for you to take the first step into the message that is unpacked within it. I would go to www.readinawe.com, I would take the challenge. I would share it with my friends. I would do it with my family every night, Hal. 

 

This is out of your playbook, man, but every night as we get together as a family, we’re making a list not only of things we’re grateful for but things we don’t want to forget when COVID-19 is no longer part of our journey. I want my kids not only to realize that we’re enduring this hardship together, but there are parts within it that we will look back and be grateful for, including 49 dinners together, including the zero activities outside of the home front right now. All we do is hang out together. There will come a day where we are busy again, there will come a day where we travel again but during this season we’re trying to soak up the reasons to be grateful.

 

Hal Elrod: I love that. I’ve just signed up for the In Awe 21 Day Challenge, by the way. 

 

John O’Leary: Awesome. Hit reply in an email, man, and we will do life together. 

 

Hal Elrod: Awesome, brother. John, I love you. I love your heart, your spirit and the value that you add to the world. Thank you for the time today, man. I really appreciate it. 

John O’Leary: Hal, you inspire me, man. My miracle morning wakes me up every day, man. Thank you for your life and your leadership.

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"We need to be working hard when we work but playing hard when we play and resting in between and understanding how to connect more effectively with the things that actually matter."

John O Leary

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