I am inspired by the story of Brian Johnson, a man whose story is similar to my own in many respects.
Raised in a conservative, predominantly Catholic family, as a young man he wanted to make his family proud and enrolled at university to study psychology, where he received a tiny inkling that he might have a passion for learning what makes people tick.
However, upon graduating UCLA, he felt the need to embark upon a ‘respectable’ profession and he went to work for Arthur Andersen, one of ‘the big five’ accounting firms (before it imploded in the Enron scandal).
Raised by a mother who instilled in him that he had gifts to give to the world and that he was a part of something greater than himself, young Brian knew that someday he would be great. It appeared to all the world that, as an accountant, he had life by the tail.
It was during his first week of work, however, that Brian became nauseous and knew in his heart that accounting was not who he was. Driving home from work one night across the bridge on the L.A. freeway, Brian pulled over, got out of his car, and while traffic was whizzing by, literally threw up on the side of the road. He had a deep sense that accounting “just wasn’t me and I was imagining my life ten, twenty years forward and it was literally making me nauseous.”
Having no idea what he wanted to do with his life, but knowing that accounting wasn’t it, he enrolled in one of the U.S.’s leading law schools and thought that he would become a great lawyer with a six figure income. Brian’s never been short on drive.
He had been studying only a semester when he realized that law was definitely not who he is either and subsequently dropped out of school at the age of 23.
In the depths of despair at this point, Brian became disillusioned with trying to “do the right thing and impress other people” with his choice of career, and he burned his résumé. “I had no compass and didn’t know how I was going to figure it out,” he said. It was a very depressing time for him.
Still having no clue what he wanted to do with his life or where his passions lie, he started coaching a little league team of nine and ten year old baseball players, which was something he enjoyed doing and gave him the opportunity to fulfill a bit of the upbringing he had which taught him to give back to the world. “In hindsight,” Brian said, “It was my little bit of Joseph Campbell’s bliss.”
At the same time he began doing some consulting work for Arthur Andersen, guiding the company through the maze of new technology. “I saw that the web was really growing in 1998 and saw the potential of databases” Brian said, “and I realized that it would only be a short period of time before every team and league, every kid and family who played sports would be using the web for everything and I created my first business out of that.”
Brian raised five million dollars and won awards with that business “and did some amazing things in the dot com boom that I never could have predicted when I left law school. And by just following what little bit of bliss that I had in working with these kids, this extraordinary idea came to fruition.”
“I’ve seen that pattern happen again and again in my life,” Brian said, “when, if I just trust myself and follow my heart and work diligently, great things happen that I never could have predicted would happen.”
Today Brian lives his passion without hesitation and follows his bliss in being a great philosopher. He studies the profound writings of sages throughout history (and in modern times) and Brian condenses those learnings into bite-size and manageable ‘big ideas’ that busy people can read, watch, or listen to in twenty minutes or less. His creations can be found at http://tinyurl.com/34vsmm2 and I would highly recommend giving them a listen. It takes only a few seconds hearing Brian speak about his life and his work to realize how passionate he is.
Brian’s big message? “You can do it too! Just listen to your heart and follow your bliss!”
© 2010, Shelley Dudley, Author, Speaker, Coach
Shelley Dudley has 25 years’ experience in sales & marketing, customer service, and training. After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism, she has written articles for a diversity of publications from Ladies Home Journal to Precious Metal Magazine. She has written a best-selling book, “You Can Do It! A Step by Step Guide to Achieving your Dreams” and is available for speaking engagements. More information can be found at her website: http://shelleydudley.biz