A quick note:
Esc loves hearing from inspirational people. So we were obviously excited when Al Humphreys dropped us a note saying that he was enjoying our site! Al is an adventurer, author and motivational speaker – aged 24 he cycled round the world by bike – 60 countries. 5 continents. 4 years. 46,000 miles.
Thanks for the encouragement Al! Glad you like Esc.
Who sells Moments of Truth?
This post is about what I call Moments of Truth. These are those relatively rare and exciting moments when you suddenly realise that the dreams, ideas and plans that you have been thinking about but never acted on could actually happen. And that all you have to do is act on your idea to make it a reality.
To borrow Chris Guillebeau’s favourite quote:
‘Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way that they have been told to.’ Alan Keightley
David Attenborough (thankfully for his millions of fans) had a Moment of Truth when, as a freshly minted graduate, he found himself clock-watching in his first job in a publishing house by St. Pauls in London. In his own words:
“I took another glance out through the window. The clock hadn’t stopped after all. Its hands had certainly moved. They had advanced a few minutes. But it was still not half past.
“This dismal revelation depressed me so much that I decided to turn my desk around so that I wasn’t hypnotised by the hands of a clock. Instead, I stared at a blank wall. And it was then that I decided that this was not the way I wanted to spend the rest of my life…”
I had a Moment of Truth when I read the comments section of Al Humphrey’s recent blog post called: ‘I wish I could do what you do… Well, why can’t you?’ The post is about a conversation Al had with a 23-year old city worker who didn’t have a proper answer to the question ‘what is stopping you from doing what you really want to be doing?’ Here is the gist of the conversation that the post started:
‘There are billions and billions of people around the world who like to dream of escapes they won’t ever live. Out of them many, many billions, 1, 2 or maybe 3 each day will rise up […] above the billions of dreamers, they will take that first step out and become doers.’
‘…some people think they are so trapped in their current lives/work that there’s no way they can escape. Looking from the outside it’s easy to see that they aren’t really trapped. But convincing them that they are not as stuck as they believe they are is the difficult part.
‘Wouldn’t it be cool if you could follow up this guy (and all the other people you meet who say things like this) and see if he actually take any steps toward living the lifestyle he wants to lead?’
‘So how do we persuade people to take the leap? How do we get to the tipping point?’
Not only did this conversation fill me with an extreme sense of excitement – witnessing people I don’t know wrestling with the exact same challenge that we are trying to solve with Escape the City (we will be doing exactly what Darren suggested – profiling successful city escapees to encourage others to ‘take the leap’) – but it also sparked a personal Moment of Truth when I realised that there are lots and lots of people out there (billions according to Darren!) who need help with changing their outlook on how they should live their lives.
I also realised what business Al is in (although I wouldn’t really call it ‘business’!).
Al sells Moments of Truth.
Witness Paul’s comment on the same blog post:
‘I’d like to thank you as your books have been one of the inspirations that have driven me to where I am now.’
Clearly Al doesn’t actually sell Moments of Truth and, in fact, a lot of the inspiration that he provides is free (like this blog, his story, his talks to school kids, etc)
But the point is that Al’s principal product is inspiration. And, from what I can tell, Al is extremely passionate about helping other people follow their dreams. Which is just as well, because the demand for this kind of inspiration is huge.
During my two years as a ‘corporate prisoner’ (except of course I wasn’t – I could have left at any time) I lost count of the number of conversations I witnessed which revolved around the theme of ‘I’m not enjoying what I’m doing – I wish I could do something else.’
The point I’m making is that people need this kind of help. The more people triggering Moments of Truth the better. The more corporate prisoners Al can inspire to get out there and do something amazing with their lives – the better for them (they get to follow their dream) and the better for us (we don’t have to hear their boring complaints).
So, the million-dollar question – what triggers Moments of Truth?
I think stories do.
I think people leading by example do.
Al is not alone. Off the top of my head I would say that Ben Saunders, Olly Hicks, and Ed Stafford are all in the Moments of Truth business too. Obviously they have many other motivations (awareness, charity, the challenge, doing it for the sake of doing it). However, I’m pretty sure I know what each of them would say to the question: ‘do you want your adventures to inspire other people to change their lives?’
Realistically, not all the people who hear their stories will do something as ambitious, adventurous, or crazy as them. However, if the combined weight of all of these inspirational examples can help just some of the people who feel trapped in a job they don’t enjoy, even if all it does is encourage them to look outside their immediate environment and consider other options, routes, and choices – then all the effort that they are putting in is doing a huge amount of good!