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The Story Engine Podcast: Where we teach you how to make marketing easier, more powerful and fun through storytelling. Each week we learn from top entrepreneurs, influencers and world-changers on how to share your story through content, copywriting, speaking and how to make your story your most powerful marketing tool.

Jul 4, 2019

The Gift Of Freedom

Happy Fourth of July, everyone. To my non-American listeners, the Fourth of July is a day where we get together with our friends and loved ones. We put on our favorite bald eagle t-shirts, and have a red Solo cup filled to the brim with our favorite beer in one hand. Then the other hand is free to shoot fireworks into the air or sometimes at each other to celebrate our freedom. 


There's this ironic America attitude that's pervasive, and I think some people take it more seriously than others. Often even things that are done in irony become habit and become true after a while. 


I think despite our passionate celebration at this time, many of us have lost touch with that incredible gift of freedom. Today, I want to share what freedom means to me and to challenge you to live up to the treasure that it is. Even if you aren't an American, many of these lessons are not limited to this country.


Freedom Is...

Freedom number one. Freedom is being yourself. Freedom is not holding back or filtering or trying to fit in. 


I think it's difficult for many of us to tell the difference between who we are and what is expected of us. We're constantly bombarded with ads and subtle cultural cues that try to make us feel incomplete if we don't look a certain way. Act like a real man or woman, or have that new TV with a bigger screen so that we can watch those same ads in ultra razzle dazzle definition or whatever the latest technology is right now. 


Extreme Consumerism 

Appealing To Your Need To Be the Cool Guy Guru

For entrepreneurs, we get those ads of cool guy gurus standing in front of fancy cars. Promising us that it can be ours too with this one simple secret. There's a growing counterculture who are above these kinds of common consumerism. They become extremists in one form or another. They develop the most refined coffee palates. They are the veganist vegans. The most ripped crossfitters. The most burned Burning Man-ers. And the ski bummiest of ski bums.


Know And Be Comfortable With Yourself

It's a vicious cycle. The more we lose touch with ourselves, the more susceptible we are to these kind of messages and marketing. There's nothing wrong with any of these things. I'm definitely not above any of these myself, but I think true freedom comes from knowing yourself and becoming comfortable with it. It needs to come from a place inside you because your hobbies, your job, your possessions are all transient. True freedom is being able to trust yourself, who you are, and feel no need to change for anyone or anything but yourself. 



Become The Best Version Of Yourself

Freedom number two. Freedom is being the very best version of yourself and not settling. The path to discovering yourself is challenging, and within all of us. There is a better version of ourselves. I don't think everyone needs to be an entrepreneur. A Nobel scientist. Or a millionaire. But I do think everyone needs to search for and discover what the best version of yourself is.


It might be something nobody understands or recognizes but you. Like Vincent van Gogh. Who was hated and scorned for most of his life for his work and only recognized for his genius after his death. Though I don't hope people hate on you like they did him. I hope that you find that vision for yourself that's strong enough to push through it even if they don’t. 


No doubt, when you start creating the type of personal freedom I mentioned in the first example. Things will start to test you, to see if you really are who you've decided you are. Often, the opportunity to become the best version of yourself lie in the dark corners of your mind and life. the ones that are uncomfortable to explore. There's also the more subtle danger of being comfortable and complacent with who you are.


The Hard Work of Self Improvement

Improving yourself is hard work, and it's much easier just to rest and relax in front of your ultra razzle dazzle definition TV and let time pass by. But I believe that as a person we have all the potential to solve all of the big problems facing us today. To do so, we need to discover that best version of ourselves. 


Commit To Your Choices

Freedom number three, freedom is not unlimited choices. It's making a choice and committing to it. Many of us see freedom as having unlimited options and resources, being able to do whatever we want whenever we want. I believe true freedom comes from making a choice and committing to it and using the resources you have in the very best way possible. 



Often, we're challenged by a sea of good or great choices. But it's worth looking deeper and finding the very best one for you. Sometimes, it's the opposite, and you have a few uncertain choices with no clear option.


I find the big magic happens when I find an option and commit to it. When you really commit to something and make it happen. Obstacles are cleared. Opportunities then present themselves that you would have never noticed before making the decision. 


The Journey To Brazil

I can remember one of these moments as a student. I had decided I wanted to travel to Brazil. I had spent time in South America before. Brazil was a new and interesting place. I came across an interesting opportunity to work for an airline. I remember going into the internship office called the Hinckley Institute of Politics and speaking with the coordinator there. 


"I want to go to Brazil," I said. "Okay. Do you speak Portuguese?"


"No, but I will by the time I get there." "Okay, but you still need to do a local internship first so we know you're reliable." 


"All right," I said. 


I was committed to the idea of going to Brazil. I was not going to let anything get in my way. The next day, I signed up for a Portuguese class. I spoke Spanish, and the two languages aren't so different. I figured I could pick it up quickly. I also spoke to a friend who was working for a local nonprofit that worked with the Hinckley Institute and told him I needed an internship. He said I could start next week. 


I returned victorious to the Hinckley Institute and let them know I now had a local internship.


"Well, that's not really what I meant." 


I should have gone through them to get the internship and registered for the course credits, paid fees, and jumped through whatever hoops, et cetera. She was, however, impressed with my determination. At the end of the semester, I showed my scores for my Portuguese class. I was performing as well as some of the returned Mormon missionaries who had spent two years there. 


I was accepted to the Azul Airlines internship in Brazil. I didn't immediately get to hop on a plane and go there. There was this whole different odyssey with my visa and another internship that had me working with that local nonprofit I mentioned earlier. But living in Peru for many months before I could actually enter Brazil. I made it and was committed and found my way.


Freedom Comes From Choice

The path does not always unfold so easily and magically as it did for me. If you're stuck in indecision and never commit to a choice, risky, uncertain, or otherwise. There will never be a path, and choosing is freedom. 


Did You Know, Scars Are Your Superpowers?

Freedom number four, freedom is not being free of scars but turning your scars into superpowers. This is a big one, though rarely discussed or expected in mainstream discussions of what freedom is. 


I know many people with scars and trauma, emotional, physical, and mental, that wish they weren't there. I was just talking to someone today who was working through a mental health issue they've had their whole life. I suggested maybe this challenge could ultimately become a gift in their life.She was open to the idea and hopeful for it but still thought she would be happier if she never had to deal with it in the first place. I can certainly relate.


My Scars Have Been My Greatest Gifts

For me, having an autoimmune condition dominated me for many years in my 20s without even realizing it. Nasty joint pain, especially in my jaw, debilitating anxiety that made it hard to find a reason to get out of bed in the morning, fatigue, and other challenges. It took years to even figure out what was happening, but when I finally did, it was something I would have definitely rather lived without. 


Sometimes, it made me not want to live at all. It took a mix of small changes and big breakthroughs to move through it. In the end, it's been one of the greatest gifts of my life. It's helped me connect with fascinating people that have helped my health and my business. 


It's taught me to listen to my body and an inner voice within and take better care of myself. I must admit, in my early 20s, I took my health for granted. I thought I had perfect genes and would never run into any health issues. Which is probably pretty common for the average young dude.


Healing Through Authenticity

Without getting too woo woo, I'm also finding it's challenging me to be more authentic in every area of my life. To speak my truth in my business and personal relationships. To fully express myself. I've spent a lot of my life stifling my thoughts and my personality trying to fit in. 


I believe that fully learning how to express my authentic voice is crucial in the healing process for me. Believe it or not, I even see this podcast episode as part of my healing process. I choose to find freedom and gifts in my scars. Sometimes, it requires recommitting to that choice even on a daily basis. 


Happy Fourth Of July!

Happy Fourth of July, everyone. I'm so grateful for the courage, sacrifice, and the brilliance that so many people have put in to make a world like this possible. Where we can pursue these deeper and more profound types of freedom. Get out there and grab a Solo cup and a bottle rocket for freedom.