Today I am talking with Jairek Robbins, performance coach, lifestyle entrepreneur and author of the best selling book, Live It: Achieve Success by Living with Purpose, which explains the how the process of creating and envisioning your ideal day can allow you to start living it today.
Jairek, at the young age of 23 you were awarded the Congressional Award Gold Medal from the United States Congress. You’ve traveled the globe on a ship. You’re helping build schools and houses in multiple countries around the world. You’ve gone cage diving with great white sharks, encountered silverback gorillas, worked as a volunteer in underdeveloped regions and support a number of charities and non-profits. And I probably haven’t even get through half the list.
Jack: Jairek, here’s what I want to know. When are you going to stop being such a slacker?
Jairek: Well, I’ve obviously been avoiding as much as I can, so I figure I’ll start now and see what happens. Hopefully, it turns out well.
Jack: Well, that’s a mouthful. Starting at twenty-three. And now, you’re a young man. Thirty years old, right?
Jairek: Thirty years old. Just married. I’m entering a new stage of life. A life no longer about my fun adventures. It’s about sharing it and making it, instead of my ideal day, it’s becoming our ideal day as a couple. It’s been a blessing so far. And there’ve been so many lessons along the way and so many things.
In getting started, I’ll answer a question I know a lot of people ask. A lot of people all over the world have asked me this. What the heck is that Congressional Award Gold Medal? And we have to be very careful about how we say that to people, because it is not the Congressional Gold Medal. That you get for being George Washington or some part of massive status that changes the history of the United States of America.
The Congressional Award is a gold medal that you have to earn. And it’s earned through community service, physical development, and personal development. And it’s like 400 hours of community service and 200 hours of personal development, 200 hours of physical development. And then it’s supposed to be four nights of living in an environment, but I ended up living three months in a rural Ugandan farming village teaching organic farming there and giving back.
So some people have questioned that recently in a Fast Company article we did. They mentioned it and someone questioned it. They’re like, well, why is that so special? And my answer was, well, there are 300 million people in the United States and there are probably about maybe 5,000 that have one. I think that’s kind of special.
Jack: Well, it’s not for helping old ladies across the street, right?
Jairek: Absolutely not. It’s for making a lasting difference in a community and your own life and who you are as a person. And it’s something that I use as an example. I earned it when I was in my twenties. And it was something where I was just finishing college, and literally had two years to earn.
And it starts off with a bronze certificate. Then a silver certificate. Then a gold certificate. Then a bronze medal. Then a silver medal. Then a gold medal. You have to go through all the ranks to get there. And you can’t do it in less than two years.
So what they wanted to see is if you are a young person who’s focused on making the most of your life. Not only are you doing well in school. You’re working very hard and you have a job. You’re doing all these other things. And on top of it, you’re piling on finding a way to be someone of service to yourself and the world.
And I use that as an example because I started out very, very young and I was blessed to grow up in an environment where these things were reinforced. And I realize that many, many people on this planet are not in that type of environment and don’t get the type of support I got growing up or direction.
My first personal development seminar was in my mom’s belly. She was teaching people how to break through their fears by breaking bricks with their bare hands. That sounds crazy, but I always say through osmosis, I had to learn something at that stage of life.
And I grew up with all these seminars and learned from all these great mentors, from Marion Williams and Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer. A lot of people who are all the leaders and mentors of the personal development and spirituality field nowadays. I had the privilege of learning from them growing up.
In doing that, it kind of shaped me into who I am today and gave me a great head start.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve heard people face is they always say going to these seminars, reading these books, listening to these tapes at 30, 40, 50 years old, they always say one phrase consistently across the board. Why didn’t anyone teach me this when I was younger?
Jack: That’s one of the things is a lot of us are always looking back on the things you learned.
One of the things that I want to point is you have a very, very keen ability of taking lessons out of things. That’s the one thing that I’ve noticed about you.
One of the things that I really took away from your book is your ability to, regardless of what the situation is, the things that you did to earn that award are things that most people aren’t willing to do, award or not. They’re just not willing to do that in their lives.
It’s not that it just wasn’t a cake walk. But there are some pretty severe circumstances that you were put in. One of the things that I want to talk about that you kind of talk about early on in the book, December 2003. You were told a pretty big mouthful. You were told you had five days to live.