The 7 Minute Life:
A Hero’s Journey
Eric Mathews & Allyson Lewis
Copyright © 2023 Eric Mathews
All rights reserved.
For Ann, who shows us how to
live well, laugh hard, and take life head on.
Chapter 1: ______ 7
Chapter 2: ______ 11
Chapter 3: ______ 15
Chapter 4: ______ 21
Chapter 5: ______ 27
Chapter 6: ______ 31
Chapter 7: ______ 34
Chapter 8: ______ 37
Chapter 9: ______ 39
Chapter 10: ______ 45
Chapter 11: ______ 52
About the Authors 59
Learn More 63
by Eric Mathews
In 2011, after five years of investing in technology founders and their businesses in an ad hoc manner, I had the opportunity to build a unique investment program in which I could batch up founding teams into a cohort and accelerate them through the process of starting up in just 90 days instead of taking a year or more to do the same amount of work.
To the shock and surprise of many, including the founders on the inside and doubters on the outside, that’s exactly what got done. In subsequent years we not only continued to shatter convention, but also increased the expectations for what could get done in 14 weeks.
Looking back at the secret to our success, I quickly came to realize that our beliefs in founder transformation were the key. We believed that if we built great founders that they would build great startups. This was a transformation of their being and self identity.
We even framed it as such. On that first day of the first program in 2011, we framed up the journey that the founders would take using the lens of the Hero’s Journey and compared the founders to the character Neo in the Matrix. With the new business founders self-identifying as heroes in the making, rationalizing the difficulty of the journey ahead as necessary, and that the transformation of themselves on the way was the real reward of the hard work, they transformed themselves and their businesses. Those business founders that changed their state of being the most end up successfully changing their businesses too. Those that clung to their prior identities ultimately never succeed in their startups.
We see the same thing in ourselves and in others. Too few truly take the Hero’s Journey. But what if we could take a world with too few heroes to a world with too many. How could that transform the world?
We can all be heroes and in small and large ways to those around us and those we never even meet, but we do not talk about it, let alone know how to do it.
Herein, you will find a simple, but effective way to transform yourself in small and large ways so that you can journey into the unknown and become the hero to yourself and others.
We invite you to take the courageous path.
The Story We Seek
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
Are you a firefighter? A person that runs toward the fire emergency at your friend’s home? The one that is first on the scene to put it out? Or are you a person that turns away from the danger, shuts down under the stress, or calls upon others to quell the flames? You really do not know until that moment arises what you are capable of. You may have a personal transformation into a fire fighter or maybe not. But only a change of being is a change of being. Only a change of being into a heroic firefighter is a change of being into that type of hero, but you will not know it until you become that hero or not.
There are many heroes we can become at many stages of life. As a child we can find the strength of character to stand up for someone who is being bullied in our class. As adults, we can fight fire or take on other heroic career paths.
However, there are other changes of being that require courage that can often be very hard to come by. For instance, overcoming personal adversity. Or letting go of our past and even traumatic experiences. Or taking a journey of self discovery to alter our identity. These are all changes of being.
Commonly Seen on Screen
The most popular type of tale of all human time from the dawn of man is what is known as The Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell coined the term for the common narrative structure in most myths, books, stories, and films. When you go to the movies or read a book you will find that many of the stories involve someone going from a realization that something in their world or in themselves is not right and then having to transform into a different state of being. They become a hero before our eyes and we identify with it and can empathize with the struggle to change and transform. But we also see the rewards and personal benefits of the transformation and even long for it in ourselves.
See if this story sounds familiar. The soon to be hero in the movie “wakes up” and realizes that something is not right in the world around them or even in themselves. They are then called to do something about it and leave the safety and security of friends, family, home, resources, and/or community to do something about it. They initially reject that invitation to adventure and the journey ahead – to take the courageous path – because they know how difficult the journey and transformation will be. They reject it just as many of us do. But then they are called again or forced to face the journey without choice. The hero crosses the threshold to take the journey, but they are not the hero yet. They must assess enemies and allies. They train and learn through mentorship and minor tests and challenges. They then face a real test in which they believe they have what it takes, but alas they do not and fail. At this point in the journey the change of being has not yet occurred. They do not yet believe in themselves because they have not changed their state of being. They are still holding onto a prior self. To become the hero, there must be a death of the prior self (and in some cases in the story they do die). At that point of “death” there is a rebirth and a revelation that solidifies the change of being into the hero. The new hero identity emerges and they take on the final and pivotal challenge in the new identity and are successful. The change of being is now complete. The hero then returns back to the spot from which they started as a changed person and brings back the rewards in the form of new skills, strength, money, weapons of defense, wisdom, healing potions, etc. They return with these rewards and transformation to the community, home, family, and/or friends thus completing the journey.
Why We Love It
Deep down inside we all know that we can be more, much more. This is why we seek a change of being so desperately and why The Hero’s Journey has so much appeal to us. We identify as the unknown hero in the making because we seek to change our state of being as well. Yet that is where it stops for most of the world. We watch the movie, we do not change our being, and nothing happens.
That’s the end of the story, but not for you.
Getting Mixed and Messed Up
“I would like to point out the importance of chasing your own dreams. You must live with whoever you become, and those around you have to live with that. It’s important to be who you want to be, and not what others want you to be.”
Nils Van der Poel
There are three types of personal transformation: a change of condition, circumstance, or being.
A Change of Condition
This is a change in your physical body and mental condition. If you have a headache, you take some pain reliever. If you are thirsty, you drink water. If you need to be stronger, you go to the gym. If you need knowledge, you start reading. These change your personal physical and mental condition.
A Change of Circumstance
This is a change of resources surrounding you. For instance, you land a new job with a big pay raise and now can buy your first home or an investment pays off and you buy a home at the beach. You get a scholarship to attend a university you couldn’t afford to attend otherwise. Or the opposite, you burn your savings trying to start a business that eventually fails and you need to cut back on eating out and find a job. These are changes in how our life circumstances fluctuate.
A Change of Being
These are the changes you ultimately seek but are hardest to attain. These are fundamental changes in what you believe about yourself, your identity, your past, your future, and even changes in your purpose. If you want to move from an individual contributor to lead others, you need to change your identity and beliefs about yourself. You must lead yourself before you can lead others. If you want to be more courageous, happier, or a sought after guru, then you are looking for a change in being.
Getting Mixed and Even Messed Up
While the Hero’s Journey includes a change of condition and circumstance, it is never truly complete unless there is a change of being. In fact, if you think about it, ultimately a continuous change of being by our hero actually changes their condition and circumstance as they gradually begin to gain confidence in their new identity and new state of being. They realize a change is needed and they start doing the work on all levels believing in the new state of being and going through the ups and downs of getting there. When they complete their change of being, they automatically get the change of condition and circumstance. Those are the rewards of a change of being.
The opposite is never true though. Many of us have been called to change inside or by those around us and when we fail to answer the call to take the courageous path of a change of being that’s where things can get truly mixed up or messed up. We do this by confusing a change of condition as a change of being. Or we think that a change in circumstance will bring about a change in being. It never works this way. Yet most of the world thinks this is the way to personal durable and meaningful change. We watch the movies, but forget the lessons.
The evidence is abundant that when we try to use a change of condition as a change of being we turn to alcohol, drugs, sex, comfort eating, body image disorders, and other changes of our condition as a substitute for a change of being. But eventually trying to repeatedly use a change of condition as a change of being makes both our being and our condition worse as addiction and other problems set in with predictable and bad outcomes. Over eating, over exercising, drug use, and other states of condition change never change our state of being durably.
The same holds true for a change in circumstance. We think that if we get paid more and buy a nice house, a change of circumstance, that we will be happier, a change of being. We believe that winning the lottery will change our insecurities, anger from our past, or other beliefs – that we will finally enter a new state of being. Will money bring us happiness and peace? The data here also shows the opposite. Almost all lottery winners go broke, reverting back to the previous personal circumstance where they were previously. Or in the case of someone amassing wealth, that the new found money only exacerbates or amplifies both the good and the bad state of being that was already present in their lives. The bully remains the bully. The bad parent remains the bad parent. The jealousy or insecurity did not go away. A change in circumstance does not change our being.
Here are the fundamental truths:
- A change in being is what we are all seeking. That’s why we love the story of the hero.
- Using changes of condition and circumstance as a change in being actually leads to more problems.
- Only a change in being is a change in being.
See the Past
“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”
The subconscious mind can process about 40,000 bits of information a second. That is an amazing feat for sure, but it actually receives 2 million bits of sensory data a second. At the same time it can only send about 40-50 bits to the conscious brain per second to process. So our subconscious brain, which is essentially a black box and usually totally out of our conscious awareness, is prioritizing what is important to us without our input. It is taking in all the data and giving our conscious brain .0025% of it. If that extremely small amount of data that is getting to us is the same that we got minutes, hours, days, and months ago, your conscious brain will not be doing much more than it has been doing. You will be repeatedly doing more of the same.
The subconscious brain uses selective attention to filter the world back to us and our consciousness. It is a filter.
What is in the filter? The subconscious is using the following filters:
Survival – this is the top priority and overrides everything.
Your Programming – 90% of the data gets filtered because of your prior learned patterns and programs from your past. These are the automated actions and reactions. This is your software or operating system.
Prior Experiences – Any significant learning experience positive or negative is stored and used for filtering.
Your Beliefs – Your closely held beliefs can be both helpful and limiting while also shaping the way we view reality.
Your Values – Values filter our data to only things that are important to us and thus shape our choices.
Your Identity – How you see yourself or your identity filters what gets to your brain.
Knowing all this, if there is only one thing you take away from this book it is this: We don’t see the world as it is. We see the world as we are.
Our subconscious using all the above filters is basically filtering the entire world and the way we see the world. We know this intuitively. When we really truly desire a specific type of car, suddenly it is the only car you see on the road. It appears that a ton of people must have gone out and bought that car, which is not the case. That car type was always on the road, but your subconscious was filtering it out previously and now it is allowing it to filter into your conscious brain. The subconscious is feeding you what you want to see, feel, and hear.
From this same example we know that with tweaks small or large, we can change how we see the world positively or negatively. We can start to tune our brains and we will start getting more of what we want and less of what we do not want entering into our brain. We can change the selective attention of our subconscious by actively changing the filters above. Whatever we focus on changing in the filters above will expand just like the car example above. And just like the car that is literally everywhere you turn, we can use the same principles to expand ourselves. Whatever you focus on, you will become, because you will only see what you are looking for in life.
The System Defends the System
Looking at the above filters you see that the vast majority comes from thoughts, beliefs, experiences, and data from the past. By the age of 35, most of the filtering and programming is set in place. Your operating system is even hardwired into your body as the nerves reinforce their connections and automations. We start using only 5% of our brains consciously as the brain automates the rest away for efficiency. Once this occurs the operating system will start defending itself from change. Your hardwired system is working to defend itself from change and transformation. Your mind, your body, your environment, and your network are all working to keep you in the same state.
You are practically helpless unless you are self aware enough to realize it. By default, you are rolling right along with it. However, you know that something is not right. It could be your health. It could be unused potential. It could be a lack of fulfillment. And yet you are not changing. You feel as though your present is heading in the wrong direction, but are having a hard time changing it. This is the 95% of your mind that is running without you consciously knowing it using your prior history, identity, events, tramas, and conditioning.
When you even start to think about changing you start to get feelings coming at you telling you that “change is hard” and “you’ll be fine” and “to just wait.” That resistance is the 95% of your programming rejecting the software update before it even starts to happen. This is exactly why change is so hard and even why it is hard to overcome your past. It is hard to transform yourself. These feelings will inevitably pull us right back to the same state. Our past is dictating our present and future.
Here is your wake up call: What you are not changing, you are also choosing. You are choosing the happiness, body condition, knowledge level, and circumstances around you. Not changing who you are is choosing the state you have today and will have tomorrow.
Thinking > Feeling
When our feelings are more powerful than our thinking, we end up not changing. The key to overcoming our feelings is to make our thinking larger than our feelings. The gravity from our past and the feelings generated from that past can be transformed. Our views of personal identity can be changed. Our values and beliefs update. The key is to initiate change in our past, present, and even project a new future. To transform ourselves in the present and overcome the feelings holding us back we start by transforming our past.
The past is simply a story that we are telling ourselves. You are responsible for the stories that you are telling yourself. Your stories can either disable or enable you. Thus, we need to master reframing that narrative in order to provide ourselves freedom in the present and the future and not allow the past to tie us down.
To transform the past we have to see the value in the experience, however negative it may have been, and create new value from that experience. Expand the experience into benefits that you have received and in the process look upon it with gratitude. To the maximum extent possible be genuinely glad it happened and be empowered by your past. You are better off having learned and grown. Even shed your bitterness and become better.
Our pasts are defined by us in our present. With thinking stronger than our feelings, we can take responsibility for how we see the past and free ourselves from it. You can own your past, rather than it owning you. Reframe a negative experience into a positive and share your new insights with someone you love. If needed, reach out and forgive someone. When you do this, you begin a transformation of being, because you are reprogramming yourself and creating a new identity which your subconscious will now use to reframe your present.
In summary, we will change when our thoughts are more powerful than our feelings. We will remain the same when our feelings are more powerful. Thoughts and feelings work against each other. It is time to unmemorize your emotions which have become the static programs of your life. It is time to help your body get rid of the feelings and emotions of your past with more powerful thinking and thus be transformed. When your thinking mind and feeling body are in direct opposition, no change will happen.
A New Destiny
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Your destiny is based on your character, behaviors, habits, actions, words, and thoughts. That’s why you should be careful with your thoughts, because they become your words. You change your thoughts through selective attention to the ones you want. You change the quality of your inputs to increase the quality of your outputs. As you tune into your better thoughts selectively along with the new inputs, your thoughts will improve and become your new words. The words you use will become your actions and eventually these repeated actions will become your habits. Your carefully selected new habits will become your behaviors and your behaviors will become your character. Your character becomes your destiny.
Your destiny fulfilled is the awesome feeling of your dreams fulfilled, but it all starts with realizing that a default future is no longer an option for you. Thus, you are changing your thoughts and words into the generative language that transforms your destiny. You can transform your past and speak an amazing future into existence. Your language creates expectations and expands your future.
Time to Start Writing
To change our filters, you need to change your thoughts but your thoughts are untangled up and unclear. Because of this you need to think and write. You need to write about our past, present, and future in the new words. You can also talk with others to clarify and untangle your thoughts but oftentimes these are private matters for you to untangle yourself or you do not have the benefit of having someone available.
Writing and speaking are important because it is the only process by which you can realize that you do not in fact understand what you are talking about. You will see holes, a lack of detail, falsehoods, and illogical conclusions. Writing helps you see the difference in the stories you have versus the stories you want. The process of writing helps you figure it all out by showing you what you know, what you don’t know, and how you can think differently. Writing helps you understand yourself and your thinking better. You will also discover new things in the process of writing.
Writing helps us to understand the journey and the desires we have for our own story.
Throughout history you find that prominent people use a journal for this very purpose. It enables them to become self aware, review who they want to be and how far away they are from it, reflect and process an experience in the past, and write a decision down and check in on it for accountability.
Journaling is important because it supports emotional regulation, helps us transform past traumas and histories, clarifies our story in the past, present and future, triggers a vision for the future, shifts our mindset, clarifies what we want.
Journaling gets your subconscious engaged in helping you achieve your goals.
Flex Your Imagination Muscles
Cast aside your prior identity to expand your future. Since you know that language shapes your future, seek the feedback of others to make sure you are thinking big enough. Your peers will be able to help you expand your expectations. Further, increase the quality of your other inputs in life. Consider how you are spending your time and how the quality of the input provided by that time could be improved. Are the books and media you consuming helping you expand or keeping you stuck in the past? Better inputs will increase your outputs and your thinking on possibilities for your future. Imagination is like any other muscle, it will get better through using it and getting feedback. It can be cultivated.
Why 7 Minutes?
Hero’s Journey Using
The 7 Minute Life
Something Isn’t Right
“The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try nothing and succeed.”
The Hero’s Journey Moment: You wake up and you realize that something isn’t right in your world.
Running Away from the Past
We can either spend our time running away from the past or running toward our future. Focusing on the past robs us of our future, and the future comes quickly. Each day spent in the past is one more given away to no growth and benefit. Handful of days becomes a week and we think it is no big deal, but it is.
The average human life is 4,000 weeks, so every month that passes is 1/1,000th of your life. Time is your most precious resource. You are now waking up to the reality that time is running out and that you can either live in the past or have a change of being and level yourself up.
Deep down we all know that we can be more, much more. However, it is hard to tell what dimensions need changing in our lives. Thus, the biggest key to a change of being is awareness. We can only control the things that we are aware of. Everything else has the power to control us for better or worse. Thus, awareness, and especially self-awareness, empowers us. Deep self-awareness is more important for personal growth and a change of being than expertise.
Building your self-awareness, your self-responsibility, and consequently your self-belief lays the foundation for great performance.
You can improve your own self-awareness and wake yourself up to prepare for the journey ahead. If awareness is an input to your success and you improve the quality of that input, then you can then increase the quality of your output in life. Increasing awareness leads to improved performance.
On the Hero’s journey, you wake up and sense something is not right, but you aren’t sure what it is. Thus you need to take an assessment on a couple of dimensions.
A Productivity Assessment will make sure you are using your time and energy in the right way and on the right goals.
A Life Assessment will help you objectively see if your health, purpose and happiness need adjusting.
An Assessment of Problem and Obstacles will help you examine if there are mental, physical, or emotional challenges ahead on your journey.
Who are you today?
The next awareness exercise is to take an honest evaluation of the life you are experiencing today.
Begin by asking these Big Life Questions:
- What was your life like yesterday?
- How did you feel when you woke up this morning?
- What do you want most out of life?
- What drives you?
- What are your personal values and priorities?
- What is your purpose in life?
- What would bring your life more happiness?
Start Running Toward Your Future
How do you create a vision of your future self? You need to set a north star vision of yourself that is as detailed as possible.
Remember that humans need three things to be in a state of happiness:
1) Something to do.
2) Someone to love.
3) Something to look forward to.
With these factors in mind, you must become what you want to attract by answering self-reflective questions. You can journal to help better clarify your vision and get more detail in place. You can even create a vision board. The key is to not judge your own answers or impose limits. Just shoot out what comes to mind.
Bringing gratitude in advance of the journey helps you understand the resources and support that already surrounds you as you begin your own personal Hero’s Journey. Take the time to list out in words ten or more things that you are thankful for in life.
7 Minute Life Tools For This Journey Step:
Time and Life Assessment
Who Are You Today?
Who Do You Want To Be?
A Call To Adventure
“We are kept from our goals not by obstacles but by a clear path to lesser goals.”
The Hero’s Journey Moment: You realize that you have to do something and can’t stay the same. You have to go out into a world that is unknown and become something new, but you don’t know what.
The Courageous Bet
To move past plateaus of life, business, and other realms you need to find a new path for yourself. That’s what requires courage. You will need to head into the unknown and away from the safety and security of what you have previously accomplished. You will be betting on yourself again and again and that’s a courageous bet.
Yet most of us avoid the unknown adventure because of our feelings. Even friends and family hold us back in various ways. What we are each missing is an invitation to take that courageous path. And sadly most will never get that invitation. It is time to extend yourself that invitation.
Discovering Your Heroic Purpose
Purpose is what you do for others. Purpose is how you use your gifts and talents to change the world. A hero has a purpose and wakes up each day to live that purpose with love and care.
Begin with the end in mind by thinking through what you would like to be known for at a very old age. This process is similar to writing down your own obituary or eulogy resume. This is probably the hardest exercise but most important. It is time to really stretch too – to make sure there is an adventure ahead that will stir you to action. You don’t want to be on your deathbed and look back with regret at all the things you could have done. Really think about what you really, really want.
Solidify Your Purpose Words
Having begun with the end in mind, defined a purpose in life, and set your foundation in place it is time to narrow down your purpose into a small set Purpose Words to live by and accompany you on the adventure.
7 Minute Life Tools For This Journey Step:
Priming Words for Purpose
Timeline of Your Life
10X and The Refusal of The Call
“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”
The Hero’s Journey Moment: You get scared because you now realize that stepping into the unknown is hard and your friends, family and even feelings are telling you that you are crazy.
You are entitled to the limits you put on yourself.
That’s a heroic revelation. Personal transformation and growth seems like a lot already. But not for the hero that knows there is more. While most would be very satisfied with 2 X personal and professional growth or even 10 X, you are called to adventure because a life can be unlived in many ways.
If you are reading this you have come face-to-face with yourself and your own life and even the truth that you may be “leaving life on the table.” We now understand that there is much more we can do than even our childhood selves could have imagined. There are way more people that we can help and impact. There is a bigger legacy or institution that we can leave behind. There is a daunting personal pursuit that we are avoiding.
An order of magnitude difference would have been fine, but now you know there is something else. Deep down you know there is a more courageous path that you are avoiding or have yet to discover.
Limits are almost entirely self imposed. Self-imposed limits, or those limits that are learned from society and others consciously or unconsciously, need to be shattered. We are entitled to the limits we put on ourselves.
Most will navigate the world blindly and with self-imposed limits. Yet we live in a world where technology and knowledge access allow us to experience and accomplish way more than prior generations ever thought would be possible. You can 10X your leadership, impact, and reach on any time scale you desire.
Refusal and Regret
If this seems like fanciful thinking that would be impossible, you may be right. If you are getting feelings inside telling you that 2X is a good outcome, but 10X would be impossible, you may be right. But then how would you know?
You could refuse the invitation to take the courageous path. If you don’t take action, real action, and do things each and everyday to meaningfully advance, you will be fine just as you are now. You will have risked nothing. But you will have regret for the things that you didn’t do.
The hero goes out each day and risks failure. You too have to go to a place beyond what you think is personally possible. You have to set a target that you think is impossible to reach. And then you adventure to that spot and see if you get there. If you do get there, it means you could go further — your talent has more capacity than you expected. If you don’t get to that place, you will “hit your head” on the ceiling of your talents, and you’ll identify where you can grow. You have to risk something to find a new level of performance.
7 Minute Life Tools For This Journey Step:
Heroes Don’t Compete
“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.”
The Hero’s Journey Moment: You accept the call to adventure and cross the threshold into the unknown. You start a journey that only you can complete and where success and failure totally rests on your shoulders. There is no competition because you are playing your own game.
Don’t Be The Best
Heroes and especially superheroes are NOT the best at something; They are THE ONLY at something. For you to change your being and thus impact, competing isn’t the key anymore. You need something that is beyond being the best. Don’t seek to be the best. Seek to be the only.
You need to think about something that only you can accomplish, where only your skills will enable a breakthrough. You alone sit at this moment in time, with your specific and unique genetic makeup that no one else in the world has, and with only your experiences and knowledge. You are specifically here for a reason. It is time to find it. You do not need to boil the ocean. There is something that only you can do or be for yourself and others, however great or small.
Competition = Comfort
Unlearning is part of the process of finding a new level of success and part of your change of being. Seeking competition is a form of comfort. When you are working on the same things as everyone else in a field – to be the best – it is easier and more comfortable; you just need to rise above average. To become the hero you want to be for yourself and others, you want to be in your own movie, and not the best in someone else’s movie.
That’s the problem with competition in the workplace, on the field, and even in keeping up with the neighbors. You are getting distracted from something that fits your natural abilities. You are distracted by other people. You are robbed of happiness and joy of your own accomplishments through comparison to others whom you think are just ahead of you. Even worse, the competitor next to you may be playing the same game, but for different or even the wrong reasons. When you are each playing the same game for different reasons, you may think that the person sitting on top of the trophy stage is happy, healthy, and fulfilled with being the best, but ultimately and sadly they may never be. You don’t want this to be the case for yourself. Further, if you knew deep down why someone was actually competing, you may not even want to be competing next to them at all; you may actually want to help disconnect them and yourself from the need to compete. The need for competition needs to be unlearned.
Once unlearned you must then seek something that takes courage to attain and where you will have to sit alone and stand apart, where there are no games and competitions. It is time for something that brings true service, fulfillment, and happiness. You are no longer satisfied with lesser goals that everyone else is pursuing in the name of being the best. These lesser goals are keeping you from your own greatness and your own transformation of being.
You now understand the comfort and safety that comes from being in the competition, being among the crowd, and working to stand out among peers. You now know that you will need to work even harder to stand apart in your own game and drop the feedback of comparison.
Heroes Don’t Compete
Is it harder to run a race by yourself? To race against yourself? To hold your own standards? To raise your own standards? Hell yeah. But you are getting out of the comfort of competition and heading on your courageous journey to sit alone and be The Only, which is much harder and ultimately more important.
It is time to be more you – the most you. It is time to think and be oneself. You are active, running your own race, and not solidified in an identity of competing with others.
It is time to play a new game the competitors can’t play.
Let your Hero’s Journey Begin.
7 Minute Life Tools For This Journey Step:
5 Year Vision Exercise
Assess Enemies, Allies, and Resources
“Good design is as little as possible. Less, but better, because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.”
The Hero’s Journey Moment: You are getting new tools, new friends, new enemies, and are at the same time preparing for trials, tests, and battles ahead.
Better Inputs = Better Outputs
You are now fully on the Hero’s Journey and it is now time to figure out what you have in the way of resources and those supporting you or maybe detracting from where you want to go. Think of this like a movie scene where you are gearing up, getting the gadgets, checking in with your guide or supervisor, and seeing if your colleagues in the locker room are who they say they are.
What Do You Love?
Think about and narrow down things that you love in life and make these the foundation of your heroic journey ahead. The things you love serve as the bedrock of your purpose.
Define the Best Uses of Your Time
It is time to describe what you love to do most, your strengths, your highest value activities, and how you want to be rewarded.
State what you love to do in your professional life and with family and friends. Define your top strengths in your various roles as a professional, a friend, a family member, and other aspects of your life. Decide on the activities that you undertake that provide the highest value noting that value doesn’t need to mean money. Reflect on how you like to be rewarded, noting that money is not a sufficient reward for the amount of sacrifice needed on your journey of transformation.
Network = Net Worth
You have heard it before and it is totally true: You are who you hang with. It is so true in fact that if you hang out with people that are poorer than you, you will become poorer. If they are richer than you, then you will become richer. Beyond money though you see other examples in those around you when it comes to fitness, attire, eating habits, thinking, growth and scarcity mindsets, etc. – birds of a feather flock together.
It is time to assess if those around you are helping or hurting you on your Hero’s Journey of transformation. It is time for an audit and restructuring of those who are surrounding you. Who are the enemies and who are the allies?
The situations you’ll put yourself in will be too much for you to handle alone. You need to define lifeline relationships consisting of deep and close relationships with a few trusted individuals who will offer encouragement, feedback, and generous mutual support. These are the folks that will make sure you don’t give up and quit and help you to perform at your full potential.
Remove The Clutter
You never see a hero or soon to be hero on the big screen bogged down by carrying a lot of things and moving their entire lives with them on the journey. They leave it all behind. They cut the clutter and get clarity.
We all carry mental and real clutter with us in our daily lives and it is now time to leave that all behind to make room for the tools and needs of our future heroic self.
If you are trying to inventory mental clutter all you need to look at is what is causing you to have stress in your life. Look for things you are avoiding, not doing through procrastination, turning towards as a distraction, or even decisions being put off. These are the mental forms of clutter that need to be cast off.
If you are looking to move even faster, get rid of the real, physical clutter in your life. You may be thinking that these objects are things that you own, but in reality they own you. If you want to overcome their hold on you, get rid of them. Clean house and make room for your new tools and inputs that are now not owning you, but are instead empowering you.
We must give up to go up. We cannot take off bogged down with clutter.
Inventory Your Strengths
You are exactly what you say about yourself. Your words matter. Oftentimes we do not know our own strengths and often have a hard time inventorying our strengths. It is time to observe yourself and give yourself some credit by inventorying your strengths for the road ahead.
Get More Leverage
Deep knowledge from the quality books and media you consume accumulate in small drops, but once gathered get to be poured onto your future in a big bucket.
7 Minute Life Tools For This Journey Step:
Highest and Best
Clean Sweep Checklist
“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work.”
The Hero’s Journey Moment: You are shifting your activities to support your transformation into the true hero you know you can be inside.
Don’t Work Harder
Doing more of the same will not get you to a transformative place. It will only lead you to burnout. Finding new tools and new thinking as you gear up for the journey is critical but not enough. It is time to change what we consume and how we spend our time.
Take back control of your time, get predictable, and put yourself in the right position to get 10X results with new inputs and networks. Make the time to invest in your growth.
Raise Your Standards on Your Time
If you want to be the outlier or even have a shot at heroic action we need to shift our time and even change what we are willing to use our time on. Elevated standards create elevated results.
You notice this whenever you work with an outlier. The bar they set for themselves and others is beyond what most people imagine.
Standards apply not just to the quality of work you produce but the opportunities you work on. If you accept substandard work from yourself, you’ll only get average work from others. If you say yes to average projects, you’ll have no time for exceptional ones.
Raise the bar to raise the results.
Not Changing is a Choice
Success is a decision. Winning is a choice. Those things that you are not changing about your life, you are also choosing. You need to consciously decide to spend your time, energy, and effort becoming your future heroic self.
Most will see only incremental results and changes because they are also only incrementally investing their time, energy, and resources that way. If you even spent 20% of your time on transformation it would take 4 years to have a 100% transformation. By keeping 80% of your time and attention on the past you will find you will not get very far very fast. It is doing more of the same and living from your past. That 100% transformation over 4 years is just 2X. If you want a 10 X transformation of 1000% it would take you 13 years at 20% focus to become a hero.
Imagine you flipped your time and spent 80% of your time transforming and only 20% on your prior identity. You would have a 10 X transformation in 4 years. When do you this you are allowing your future heroic self to dominate your time and only allowing 20% of your time be connected to your past.
Could you move even faster?
Your attention is way more scarce and thus more valuable than your time. You become what you focus on. The conclusion here is to make the definitive choice to spend as much of your time and attention on your heroic transformation.
Keep Your Identity Small
Holding on to an identity that is no longer serving you is the problem. The tighter you cling to an identity the harder it is to grow beyond it. To move faster we need to stop clinging to the past identity that no longer serves us. Can you keep your identity small as you make many big shifts? With a small identity we can have a big life. Big identities keep us anchored to the past and lead to essentially zero personal growth. Big identities that may have served us well in the past will no longer serve us in the future.
7 Minute Life Tools For This Journey Step:
Daily Progress Report
To Do List
Daily Task List
Weekly Progress Report
Monthly Progress Report
15 Minute Increment
Annual Projects and Tasks
“You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.
The Hero’s Journey Moment: You feel like you are ready to be the hero, but alas you haven’t actually transformed. You fall into the abyss and hopefully face the death of your prior self and thinking that got you there. You are reborn as the hero.
Entering Uncharted Waters
With your new identity, knowledge, awareness in hand, you have shifted your time, attention, and energy to becoming your new heroic self. You are out in the world using this new identity and are heading out into an uncharted world. The shores of your past are far away and beyond sight and you are fully on your quest to see if you can take on a big challenge in your new identity. You have set your sights on a big goal for yourself.
The Abyss: Alone and Apart
You not only start to realize that it is harder to run a race by yourself, but also that the hardest race in the world is the race against yourself. To hold your own standards when there is no competition and when no one is looking. You are starting to understand that it will take even more courage than you thought to go on your own journey. You will have to face your fears. You will have to overcome your limitations. You will have to use your strengths and move past your weaknesses. But can you?
All great athletes, performers, and outliers use routines to keep them focused on what matters most as they work harder on becoming their next level selves. When you wake up your morning routine is priming your day for the heroic journey ahead. At night are you reflecting on the day past on how you could become even better faster.
Your morning and evening routines become important when you are alone on a big journey. When you are competing against others and working on teams it is easy to fall into a cadence of incremental performance. But when you are on a journey of self transformation you are going it alone. You need to set your own cadence for the race against yourself.
Now that you are heading into the abyss towards a final trail to see if you are in face the new self you say you are, your routines will be your guide and evaluation system when you have nothing else to compare yourself to but yourself.
Good nights lead to good mornings. Establish a night routine that ensures you are prepared for the day ahead. Get addicted to a highly productive start in the day ahead. Use your productive start to prime your new identity and focus 80% of your time on your new heroic identity.
Are you ready to let go of your past permanently? You have set your sights on a big goal that will demonstrate that you are in fact a new person. That goal could be physical in nature like climbing a tall mountain or a solo sail across the ocean. That big goal could be demonstrating a new skill that you previously thought was impossible. That goal could be overcoming a psychological struggle. Or it could be making a positive impact in business or society at a level of great significance.
You will face a final test in service of that goal.
You will confront you past and either revert back to the prior self or you will shed your old beliefs, thinking, identities, and habits and become the hero to yourself. The death of the prior self precedes the becoming of the new self. Death is necessary for the transformation and to fulfill your destiny.
During the trial, you gain new wisdom and lessons and even find a deeper strength and conviction.
Through Death There is Rebirth
You may have failed in what may seem like the ultimate test of your new identity, but you decide you are not done. That with your deeper strength and new found wisdom that you are in fact the hero you thought you could be and now truly know what is possible. The death of the prior self has created the conditions of transformation so that you are truly ready to face your goal or challenge once again and ultimately achieve it. You do in fact try one more time fully as your new heroic person and bring about the change you seek in the world and for yourself.
You have the change of being and are reborn as the hero. You are not the best; you are the only which was ultimately much harder than you thought but also ultimately more important.
7 Minute Life Tools For This Journey Step:
What Worked? What Didn’t Work?
Morning and Evening Routine
The Reward and Return
“Happiness is a dividend of a well-invested life.”
The Hero’s Journey Moment: You are the hero and now have the rewards of that journey.
Become What You Want to Attract
You now have become what you wanted to attract. You have had a change of being. As a result, your personal conditions and circumstances have also changed. You feel better and are better physically and mentally. You have received rewards for your transformation that you now get to share with the community that you departed to take this journey. You come back from a world unknown to the world you knew once before but now you must return to your friends and family with those rewards, lessons, and new thinking.
When success occurs, it is important to reflect and, even more importantly, to give back.
You should give back to the community from where you started. Your growth will be the oxygen for others that surround you. And there is no need to limit it to just your one community. You now know that you can scale yourself to reach more people and make a bigger impact.
Being a mentor is one way to give back. In the beginning of your journey you sought mentors and relationships. Now, with the experience earned in the process of becoming a hero, it is appropriate that you should play that role for others.
Invest in others as others have invested in you. Share your values and hard earned lessons to invite others to take their own hero’s journey.
Do It Again
Finally, it is time to dream and transform yourself again into the next level hero that you desire for yourself.
While your future goes away one day at a time, you know that you can now direct yourself on another courageous path and invite others to do the same.
7 Minute Life Tools For This Journey Step
90 Day Calendar
You Are Already a Hero to Someone
Heroic refers to actions that are morally relevant because of the good consequences that are achieved. Further, they are an outward expression of the strength of character or virtue of those undertaking those efforts. Those undertaking such work are heroes and we see them everyday in our daily lives if we choose too.
You are a hero because good will motivates your action. And yet as you wake up each day undertaking heroic effort, and in-spite of your attempts in self-improvement, your actions day-in and day-out will be imperfect — it is the nature of human existence. Each day we wake up and fail at something or many things. But this is all part of it. Think of the heroes in your favorite movies and even superheroes. They are flawed and their actions are imperfect. They break things. They make the wrong choice. They have messy relationships. And yet their growth, transformation, goal achievement, and effort is considered heroic.
The key features to heroic action is that it is:
1) Voluntary: We are called to action to bring about a change bigger than ourselves.
2) Collective: It is not one singular hero that saves the day. We all contribute what we have.
3) Imperfect: We’ll make mistakes, errors, fail to act, etc. — even fail to meet our own personal expectations just like the heroes of movies make mistakes and struggle with meeting expectations.
Heroes are not good because they are right. Heroes are good because they listen, they learn, they trust, and if someone was ever in a tough position they would come, if alive. You are a hero by that definition.
We believe you can be a next level hero, though and do and be even more to someone or some cause. You would not be reading this book if you did not believe that already.
We know the journey you are embarking on is tough and will be full of mistakes and struggle but we believe in you. Take the journey of personal transformation and become a next level hero to yourself and others, because the journey is the reward.
Thank you to
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Eric Mathews is a leading business strategist, author, and coach. For over 20 years, Eric’s work has launched over 1,000 startup businesses, supported over 10,000 businesses, helped open innovation systems at major corporations, bolstered entrepreneurship programs at universities, and advanced select civic and impact organizations in North America and beyond. This work has resulted in over a quarter of a billion dollars in investment capital raised, hundreds of millions in new revenue, and thousands of new jobs created.
Eric founded Start Co., an internationally recognized venture architect firm where, in addition to building new tech startups, they provide the processes for major corporations, governments, universities, and other organizations to build data and technology solutions, new business models, and civic innovations that leverage the power of innovative talent, investment capital, and global connectivity. Prior to these endeavors, Eric was the Associate Director of Corporate Research & Development at the FedEx Institute of Technology. Eric has a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Rhodes College and a Master of Science degree in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Memphis where he studied artificial intelligence. He has been quoted hundreds of times in global media outlets on building startups as well as the use and influence of innovation in business. Eric is the author of From Garage to Greatness: Succinct First Steps for Early Stage Entrepreneurs, an accessible book for first-time entrepreneurs and those supporting them about how to move from idea to business launch. Eric serves on the boards and advisory boards of several startup, business, art, civic, and impact organizations. Beyond tech startups, Eric has a diverse portfolio of other investments in the manufacturing and real estate industries. Eric is an Eagle Scout.
Allyson’s purpose is to help people thrive. She inspires people to reengage at work and in life with passion, purpose, clarity, commitment, productivity, kindness, excitement, adventure, creativity, innovation, and happiness.
Allyson Lewis is the founder and CEO of the 7 Minute Life. She is an author, speaker, trainer, and coach. Her books have sold more than 130,000 copies and have been translated into Chinese, Turkish, Korean, and Spanish. Her YouTube channel has had more than 2.1 million minutes watched. Allyson is actively researching the neuroscience of happiness, productivity, and well-being in the workplace.
For the last 29 years, Allyson has spent more than 10,000 hours researching, writing, speaking, teaching, training, and coaching the philosophy, principles, and practices of The 7 Minute Life.
Allyson works with individuals, teams, companies, and entrepreneurs sharing groundbreaking strategies revolutionizing corporate cultures. Employees want to work with commitment, clarity, conviction, determination, and excitement. They want their work to matter.
Reach Out to Allyson Lewis and the Team at The 7 Minute Life to start your personal time management and purpose journey. Learn more about client offerings and get other FREE resources at their website:
Interested in Professional and Personal Transformation?
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