“You gotta answer your DMs, man,” says Jairek Robbins, half laughing, in his latest Brilliant Thoughts interview with Tristan Ahumada. Robbins, who is an acclaimed business coach, best-selling author and motivational speaker, is also the new president of SUCCESS—a position he says started with an Instagram message. “Opportunity is always knocking,” he adds, an idea he’s been reflecting on a lot lately.
If opportunity is always knocking, it’s clear that Robbins is answering the call. From his early work in the nonprofit sector to traveling the world as an in-demand keynote speaker, Robbins has dedicated his life to inspiration. What motivates him? For Robbins, everything comes down to core values.
Find your second mountain.
You don’t have to be just like Jairek Robbins to work with him, but you do have to share his value of caring. Robbins says he only works with people who care about something larger than themselves, an act he describes as “finding your second mountain.”
“There’s an evolution from first mountain, which is ‘what do I get out of life?’ to second mountain, which is ‘what can I give to life?’” he explains. “I require people to evolve to their second mountain if we’re going to share a space so that we’re focused on what we can give to life.”
To Robbins, failing to find a larger purpose is where many successful entrepreneurs go wrong. That’s why when a friend who works in consulting introduced him to the concept of a for-purpose organization, he fell in love with the idea.
Build a for-purpose organization
The goal of a for-purpose organization is to reinvest a portion of revenue into projects, communities and individuals. To generate that revenue, you have to build a highly profitable, efficient and agile business that delivers extreme value to clients and constituents. Robbins believes this model could solve many of the funding issues that nonprofits face.
“My experience with the nonprofit world was we’re constantly walking around with our hands out, saying, ‘hey can you help, can you help, can you help?’” he explains. “Why don’t we just build a machine that pumps all the money we need into this so we never have to ask, we can just go do what needs to be done?” Achieving this, however, requires a willingness to do the work.
Be willing to do the work.
Most entrepreneurs know that hard work is the precursor to success. For Robbins, hard work is about more than putting hours into a project; it’s about attitude. One of his big aha moments came after a friend told him that “willing is an action word.”
It’s not enough to say “OK, fine, I’ll do it,” according to Robbins. To live a great life, a person must find the willpower to drive things forward. Aspiring entrepreneurs need to be willing to do the work, even when the tasks are mundane, in order to accomplish their goals. They also need to seek out advice from people who’ve walked the same path.
“You need to quickly find a mentor who’s been there and done that to show you all the things you’re about to mess up,” Robbins explains. If you have the willingness, a larger mission and expert guidance, you’re off to the right start.
Tell the truth, the whole truth.
We tend to think about honesty as telling the truth to other people, but what about the story we tell ourselves? Robbins is straightforward about the fact that he can’t help you unless you give him an accurate description of where you are. Finding your own coordinates requires self-honesty.
“It doesn’t always have to be pretty, doesn’t always have to be bad, it just has to be what’s real,” says Robbins. “If we know what’s real, we can do something with it.”
Telling the truth, the whole truth, isn’t just a moral concern—it’s a matter of practicality. You have to provide an accurate location to receive accurate directions. No one can guide you to a better place if you lie to them about where you are, and to tell someone your location, you have to know it for yourself.
Have fun, whatever that looks like to you.
For someone who takes personal growth seriously, Robbins is surprisingly goofy. He’s the type of guy who takes time every morning to send a silly text to a struggling friend, smiles at strangers and loves random acts of kindness. To him, this is what fun looks like.
“Fun is the process of feeling good because of what we’re choosing to do in that moment,” explains Robbins. Some people have fun when they’re growing, learning or giving. He loves random acts of kindness because they bring joy to everyone involved: the giver, receiver and audience. He believes these moments bond individuals and strengthen a community.
For Robbins, everything comes back to values and striving for something larger than himself. Whether he’s goofing off, giving a TED Talk or advising the next generation of entrepreneurs, Jairek Robbins is thinking about the big picture, like all great leaders do.
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