Pursue What Matters
Episode 147: Book Review: Hero on a Mission
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Do you sometimes feel like a victim in your own life? Who knows? Maybe you’re the villain. Well, today I want to share a book with you that helps you to challenge villain and victim mentality and become a hero on a mission.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:14
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. So it’s the end of another month, I can’t believe it, which means it’s time for our monthly book review. And so I’m really excited to share this book with you, it just barely came out. So I think I ordered it on the day it came out. And I read it very, very quickly, and just loved it. And this book is a little unique, because it actually has kind of a system for you. Right. So it gives you some direction in terms of organization and planning. And it’s really all about living your life intentionally, which of course with this podcast is what we’re very interested in. So what is the book, the book is Hero on a Mission, a Path to a Meaningful Life, and it’s by Donald Miller. Now I first read Donald Miller years ago, I read one of his memoirs, and I absolutely loved it. And then I read another memoir from him and absolutely loved it. And then over time, I started hearing that he was doing a lot with business. And so I started tuning in to some of his some of his work related to business and some of his writing. And it’s really, he’s got such an interesting path, right? Because he writes these memoirs and books. And then he has really made a name for himself in the world of business, and marketing, and is now writing quite a few business development books. And so what I would say about this book here on a mission is it’s somewhere between a business book, and a self development book. And I those are kind of my favorite sorts of books, because it’s focused on you individually, that how you can really fulfill your potential and live to purpose and meaning every single day. And so this is a great book, it’s a quick read. And it’s got some really great frameworks if you need a little more support. And so there are some online software that you can use. Based on this book, there’s also pages that you could download. And so if you’re looking for additional resources, and some structure for you, as you really work on getting intentional about your life, this is a really great book for that purpose. And so every week with the podcast, my goal is to help you pursue what matters by strengthening your confidence to lead either with clarity, right, which is leading to purpose, leading with curiosity, which is all about self awareness and self leadership, and then leading and building a community. And I really think this book hits on all three, but I’m gonna force myself to choose and prioritize. And so primarily, we’re really talking about helping you lead with clarity, because it’s all about getting clear, about purpose, and really living intentionally. And so of course, this impacts your ability to come to build a community and to support others, because when we contribute at our highest level, we really can show up in profound ways for others. And so this book just came out. Let’s learn a little bit about Donald Miller. So Donald Miller is a CEO of business Made Simple. He is the author of The Best Sellers Blue Like Jazz, a million miles in 1000 years, and building a story brand. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Elizabeth, and their daughter, Emily. So though that’s just a little sampling of his books, he actually has several other books that he is the author of. And then let’s and I think most of his books, if not all of them have been New York Times bestseller. So he’s no slouch when it comes to writing his his books tend to be quite, quite well received. And what I would say about Donald Miller is he’s very generous with his resources. And like I said, with this book, there’s a website and you can access a bunch of free resources and so I was kind of cool. So this is a little bit of an introduction to the book. So if you feel like somebody else is writing your story, and they aren’t doing a very good job here I want to mission invites you on a journey that will change The way you view life itself. Now that sounds intriguing, right? In this book, Donald Miller will help you see yourself as a competent protagonist in a story of your own making, the ideas that unfold in this book will help you discover when you are playing the victim and the villain, right? I think we all do that at different times in our lives, create a simple life plan that will bring clarity and meaning to your goals ahead. Take control of your life by choosing to be the hero in your story, cultivate a sense of creativity about what your life can be, and move beyond just being productive to experiencing a deep sense of meaning. And so one of the things I really like about Donald Miller’s work it and especially with this book is he ties the practical to the purpose driven, and really, right points out that they’re, they should be in constant alignment, right, like if we are to be successful. And what I mean by successful is living to purpose, then we really do need to have our daily lives, our daily practices, tie to purpose. And I think the problem for many of us is we don’t have that alignment happening. And so instead of being intentional, and having clarity about our lives, we actually just kind of go through the motions and, and life just besets us more than anything. And so, really, he speaks to my heart in this
Dr. Melissa Smith 6:25
book. The other thing that I so appreciated about this book, and it was just like such a nice surprise, when I began reading it is Miller really, really makes an ode to Viktor Frankl who, of course, is one of my heroes. Of course, his book is now in search for meaning about his account of his time in the concentration camps in Nazi Germany, and and Mellor talks a lot about the impact Frankel has had on him, he talks about the teachings of logotherapy, which is Frankel’s therapy that he’s developed before going into the concentration camps. And then really, the concentration camps were his experiment that that was his research of how he really brought to fruition this, this theory of life and meaning, and he said that life isn’t all about seeking pleasure, which is, is what Freud was saying, and, and many others, right, Freud really talked about, we’re driven to seek pleasure. And Frankl said, No, we’re not driven to seek pleasure, we’re driven to seek meaning, we are purpose driven people. And as to the degree to which we can connect to that live in alignment with that, we will be of greater benefit to those around us and to ourselves. And so it’s a really profound message. And Miller makes it very practical, which I think is really great, you know, because I think it can be easy to hear Frankl story and to think, wow, like, that’s profound, and not to feel like a slug, in your own life. And Miller really, you know, really welcomed us in, and helps us to connect to that deep sense of purpose in the lives that we live today, right, with our headaches and annoyances, and grievances. And so I thought that was a really, really great feat, actually, in the book. So of course, Miller is first and foremost a writer. And so he thinks in the narrative voice, he uses the structure and the framework of story to explain his concepts. And so the book is broken in to three different acts. And so act one is how to create a life of meaning, which I think is really great. Act Two is create your life plan. So this is where he really helps you to get very practical about what this practice will look like on a daily and a weekly basis. And then act three is your life planner and daily planner, and that’s where he has additional resources for you. And so what I really want to focus on in our time together today is in Act One, primarily, which is how to create a life of meaning. And so one of the concepts that he that he points out, are the different roles that we play in our life. And so I want to talk about the victim, the villain, the hero, the guide, and he says that these are four roles that each of us play in our own life. And so let’s take a look at those. Okay, so there are four primary characters the victim is the character who feels they have no way out. The villain is the character who makes others small. The hero is the character who faces their challenges and transforms. That guy is the character who helps the hero. So think about your favorite story. Think about your favorite movies. And they probably have elements of each of these four primary characters, right? We think about Harry Potter, right Harry Potter, in some moments of the story, right? Throughout all the movies throughout all the books, there were times he was a victim. There were times he was pulled to being a villain, right? And ultimately, his choice was to become a hero in his own life. So now let’s think about who was Harry Skye? Right? Well, of course, we think about Dumbledore. Dumbledore, of course, was a very important guide. And I would say there are probably others, as well. You know, we think about the Harry Potter stories in addition to Harry sometimes playing the victim, other characters were sometimes the victim. We had characters of course, there were so many villains. In that story, right? We think about Snape, we think about Lord Voldemort, right, he who must not be named. And so I think if you will look into some of your favorite stories, you will see that these four characters exist. And so what Miller does is He invites us to take a look at how these four characters might be showing up in our own story in our own life.
Dr. Melissa Smith 11:16
So let’s just say a little bit more about the hero. So what what Miller says is the hero is the one willing to face their challenges and transform, right that life is offering us a question. And the light and life asks us a question, right? So Frankl talks about this, and he talks about for many of us were asking a question of life life, what do you have for me? What are you going to give for me? And he says, this is the wrong question. Actually, each of us in ourselves are answering life’s question for us. Who are you? Who will you become? Who will you help write that these are actually the most important questions. And when we can become the hero in our own life, we start to answer life’s questions. And we start to live life on life’s terms. And what I would say is, so much of the misery that we experience is when we refuse or avoid, to refuse to live life on its terms we hide in emotional numbing, we hide in avoidance, we hide in denial, and we don’t learn to live life on life’s terms. Recognizing that life is challenging, that life poses us challenges, right that others choices, put pose challenges for us, and that the real power is in how we respond. Right? It’s less about the challenges we face. And it’s more about how we respond in the face of challenge. Will we accept challenges and be transformed? Or will we cower? Will we hide? Will we run away? Will we make ourselves a victim? Will we make ourselves a villain and criticize and judge and complain? And so of course, the invitation is to be the hero. And what Donald says is playing the hero emplou improves our stories dramatically. If we want to take control of our lives, and bend our story toward meaning, we can surface more hero energy, and less victim and villain energy, which I don’t know about you. That sounds pretty nice to me. He also teaches that the character we play will determine the quality of our story. And I think for each of us, we can think about times where we get stuck in a victim mentality or a villain mentality, right? Where it’s just like a lot of negativity, it drastically shifts the quality of our stories, right one from optimism and hope and connection to isolation and depression, and frustration. And what he says here is that we have a choice with that, right? Well, we don’t necessarily have a choice about all of our circumstances. But we do have a choice in how we respond and not absolutely his heart and soul from Frankl. And so that of course, he says that we want to become the heroes and the guides in our lives. And the way that he talks about this is as we embrace being a hero on a mission. The natural evolution of that is that eventually we will become a guide, right? You become a guide for someone else, you become a mentor, helping someone else along and I think that’s a really great way to think about that. You do your you do your own work first and always. And as you do that right on your path, it opens you up to being a resource and a help and a mentor to others, which is pretty cool. Okay, and then the second thing that I wanted to share with you today is what Miller talks about also in this first act, which he he poses a question, right? What elements are necessary for a person to transform, right? So you might recognize like, okay, like I want some things to change, but you might not know how to go about that or what the steps might be. It looked like. And so he gives some counsel around that. And so the first thing that he shares is that living a story is the only way to transform. Now, let me translate for you, my understanding of that, you must take action. You can’t, you can’t sit on the sidelines, you can’t just navel gaze, you actually must take action, you must face uncertainty. And I think that’s actually the scariest part for most people, is fear renders them inactive, right. And so you’ve got to, you’ve got to take action, the other thing right in in order. So we think about elements necessary for a person to transform is the hero must want something, there must be some sort of desire.
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:47
Now, if your desire is something that can benefit you, and others, that’s going to be more purpose driven, that’s going to be more meaningful. So I want to share a quote from him on this, I think it’s really powerful. So he said, I think one of the reasons people do not change is because they do not leave the Shire, right. And of course, that is from a reference to the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. So he continues, many of us have stopped wanting things in our lives, we’ve killed our desire, when something didn’t work out, we mistakenly believed that nothing else would. And perhaps we came to believe that by not wanting anything, we could mitigate all risk of failure, not wanting something, after all, is a form of self protection. Instead of trying, we play it safe. And, you know, what he says is, this seems to be a sad reality for many. But a story has to be about a character who wants something. So I think that’s really powerful. And that, you know, don’t be afraid of your desires, but channel those for good. Okay, the next element necessary for a person to transform, according to Miller is a hero must engage, there are challenges, right? So he says two more reasons people do not transform, they either avoid challenges, or do not learn from them. And what he says is conflict is the only way we change without pain, there can be no transformation. And so then he shares a little bit from Frankl in his lectures, Viktor Frankl posed a question to his audiences that went like this. If you look back over the hardest seasons of your life, would you choose to delete them? If you could? Now that you are through them? Would you not want to lift them?
Dr. Melissa Smith 17:42
For most the answer to this question was no, they would not want to delete the heart seasons, from their memory, they would not have wished the painful season away. This is not always the case, of course, the loss of a child having made a decision that broke trust, there are times when we wish we could turn back the clock that even in those instances, there was personal growth in our pain, when you decided to be disloyal, you learned of your own limitations. And it humbled you, when you made the mistake, you learned of your own fallibility and develop the strength of character required to live differently. And so that is the next element a hero must engage your, their their challenges, you’ve got to take life head on, you got to take responsibility for yourself. And you know, with that he’s talking a lot about our you know, this need to take on our challenges includes a call to duty, a call to responsibility. And he shares a beautiful poem by Tagore. So it’s Robin drawn and off to court, I’m sure I pronounced that wrong, I apologize. I’ve come across this poem before, it’s really powerful. I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was duty I worked and behold, duty was joy. When we embrace our responsibilities, when we embrace our challenges in life, this is the path to joy. This is the path to greater wellbeing, because it’s not just about us, but it’s about how we can harness our skills, and gifts and talents, right that are hard fought for in service to others in service to an ultimate good. Okay, so the next element necessary for a person to transform a hero learns from their mistakes and misfortune, right? We’re all going to mess up. And that’s part of the path. But can you be humble? Can you learn from your mistakes so that they don’t continue to play you that you can actually move forward? And then the last element that he talks about, in in terms of what’s necessary for transformation, is he he reminds us that transformation is the natural path. It none of us look the same as we did when we were babies. Right. And the path of life is actually one of growth and evolution. And so if we can live in alignment with life instead of in opposition to life, we can find that transformation. So this is just a little sampling of Donald Miller’s great book, In act two is when he gets into creating your life plan. And he talks about writing your eulogy and reviewing it every day. Now, that sounds a little bit morbid. But you know, he makes a very powerful case for it. And, you know, that’s something I’ve actually been thinking about that and thinking about what would I include in my eulogy. And then in addition to the eulogy, he, he helps you to cast a long term and a short term vision for yourself. And he introduces the daily planner. Now, I don’t think he’s trying to make money off of this because he has all the resources downloadable for free at his website. But as I mentioned, like I’ve seen him to be very generous with his resources. And so if you want a little more structure, this would be a good book to get your hands on, and then you can access the website and everything like that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 21:11
So head on over to my website to check out the show notes with the resources for this episode. Of course, I will include a link to the book and to the website where you can access some of those resources. If you are interested, you can find out at www.drmelissasmith.com/147-heroonamission one more time, that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/147-heroonamission. So I hope you will consider this book. I think it’s a great resource. Please join me on Instagram @dr.melissasmith because I’m going to share some of Miller’s insights and have a deep dive in into that a little bit more. And of course, if you don’t mind taking the time to review the podcast, it helps people to find me. And also I want feedback about how I can better show up for you with the podcast. So in the meantime, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work in love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai