Have you ever been on a quest?
Maybe it’s been a while since you thought of life in those terms. As kids, we think of everyday occurrences as quests and adventures. When I was young, my friends and I would build forts, chop down trees, ride to Wal-Mart, and other short-term quests. We knew what to do and set our minds to the task.
When I was 9, I ran away from home. The journey didn’t last long, maybe two hours. I lacked provisions, a map, and a clear goal of what I was doing. I was 9. I hurried home in time for dinner, and all was well. I don’t know if my mom even noticed I had set off to see the world, and only saw a new part of the neighborhood.
That memory triggers a scene in the Hobbit, where Bilbo is struggling to decide on leaving his cozy hobbit hole. Gandalf looks down at him and says,
Chris Guillebeau is a person who knows about quests. In the past ten years, he has visited every country in the world, all 193! On the journey, he learned countless lessons on what drives purpose and meaning.
Last week, I had the pleasure of listening to Chris share those lessons and stories from his quest. In his new book The Happiness of Pursuit (win this book here), he shares the essential elements of quest.
The front door exists in our hearts and minds too. We stand out on the porch and wonder what’s out in the wild. Adventure, struggle, conflict, success, and utter failure. We don’t know what to expect outside, so we turn and go back in to what’s comfortable.
The quest sticks with us though, it won’t be quiet on our porch. Tell it to go away, and keeps returning. It finds the loose window and wiggles back in. The quest has chosen you, and will not allow you to forget it.
If I don’t at least try, I will always regret it – Chris Guillebeau
All meaningful quests are like this. There is an element of failure. But that doesn’t mean we stay on the porch. It reminds me of another favorite Hobbit quote. We’re in the same scene, covering the same question of whether Bilbo answers the call to adventure.
Gandalf: You’ll have a tale or two to tell when you come back
Bilbo: Can you promise that I’ll come back?
Gandalf: No. But if you do, you will not be the same
Undertaking a quest is more than stories to share. I begin because I know it has the power to change me. Everyone wants to change the world, and there is honor in that hope.
But to change the world I must begin by changing myself. And to do that I have to step outside the door and allow the journey to transform my life. There is pain, struggle, happiness, and hope. Without a clear goal and purpose, it’s difficult to find the strength to continue. A calling greater than my own little plans drives the quest, and incredible people step in and help when all seems lost.
At the culmination of the quest, there is still more to do. There is a community of people in your life that need to hear your story. The gift (and responsibility) you bear is sharing the experience with others. Support their quests, give advice and support when they lose sight. Keep their eyes fixed on the goal.
This is what Chris and countless other people doing with their life’s work. They have a profound impact on my story and the ways I share it. I want to share their wisdom with you, and so I’m giving away seven of the best books on crafting your life’s story.
Here’s how you win the giveaway:
This free giveaway is a little different. Instead of hiding this contest and hoping you’re one of ten people to register (as I tend to), sharing the link will increase your chance of winning! You will receive a personal “lucky link” to share on social media or with your own email list. For each person that signs up through your link, you will be entered three more times!
1. The Happiness of Pursuit, by Chris Guillebeau
Why it helps us: See above. 100% worth your time.
2. Wrecked, by Jeff Goins
Why it helps us: A key point in our journey is being out of what is comfortable and normal. It’s when life is uncomfortable and abnormal when we have the greatest opportunity to grow. Jeff shows us the stories that wreck us are the stories which shape us.
3. Packing Light, by Allison Vesterfelt
Why it helps us: A lot of times, we feel stuck by our choices. Ways we live, jobs we take, things we buy. It’s easy to throw our hands in the air and believe we can’t make a change. The quest is too big and audacious. Allison was in this place several years ago, feeling the weight of choices keeping her down. Then she embarked on her own quest of visiting all 50 states. It’s a marvelous read on how we can steadily cut away the things in life that control us.
4. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller
Why it helps us: Donald wrote this several years after his best-selling memoir, Blue Like Jazz. He was stuck after success, after a quest had been fulfilled. He wasn’t living the kind of story he wrote about. He embarked on his own quest, to cycle across the United States. This quest, combined with the process of turning Blue Like Jazz in to a movie, showed him the elements of powerful stories, and how they could be applied in all our lives.
5. Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown
Why it helps us: The messy, dirty, vulnerable parts of our story are often the most difficult to share. We feel pressure to keep up appearances and show everything is fine. Brene helps us peel back the layers of shame to tell the full story of who we really are. She states that becoming more vulnerable is the best way to create whole-hearted families and communities.
6. The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
Why it helps us: This short parable follows the journey of a young man on a quest. Along the way, he finds wealth, poverty, friends, enemies, love, and heartbreak. In the end, he learns how each experience and sacrifice has led to him fulfilling his personal legend. Also the most recommended book from guests of the Story Signals podcast.
7. The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield
Why it helps us: A short little book on overcoming the internal resistance which plagues us all. Pressfield focuses on the creative process, but there are many lessons in this book for any goal you wish to achieve. Another book I hear shared and recommended as a must-read.
The contest runs from Monday, September 22 at 7:00 am EST to Tuesday, September 30 at 11:45 pm EST. You must live in the United States or Canada to win (sorry, shipping overseas is too much). You must be 21 and up to win. Full rules can be found on the giveaway page.