Personal development trainer Brendon Burchard doesn’t use the first-person pronoun I in his new motivational book, yet the two years he spent writing it proved a worthy test for the author.
In the end, Burchard says, the concepts that fill the pages of The Motivation Manifesto are what kept him going.
Already a New York Times best-selling author, Burchard saw Manifesto, his fifth book, as bringing “more depth, tradition, and fire to the personal development space,” which he felt had drifted into a pop-culture arena that doesn’t adequately address the struggles facing people today.
When his original publishers saw early drafts of Manifesto, they didn’t get it. Rather than revise the book and take up the feel-good hype he wanted to avoid, the author gave back his cash advance and searched for another publisher who supported what he was trying to do.
“It was a form of the social pressure I talk about in the book,” Burchard says. “They wanted me to do something I don’t believe in, to meet the norms of folks who might have a different set of values or beliefs than I do.”
The 37-year-old founder of the Experts Academy and High Performance Academy, which provide training programs in various entrepreneurial and business tracks, Burchard explained to SUCCESS why a passion for personal progress is the key to getting things done and shared many of the motivational tips he details in his latest book.
Q: Any book that is dubbed a manifesto is inherently bold. But you went an extra step and started the book by repurposing the Declaration of Independence as an appeal to readers to fight for their best selves.
A: The book is peppered with this language of freedom. Without ever having any politics in the book, it rides that conversation about freedom that we’ve been having for thousands of years as humanity, and in 200-plus years of this country, too.
So the book isn’t about me. It’s not about my story. It’s about we, as humans, and how we can work to find that higher sense of ourselves that feels more free. There are practical ideas in the book, but I really tried to balance it. I wanted to talk about the philosophy of being a human today. This is the most important conversation of our lives: What drives us? What are we capable of being? How do we reach our highest sense of freedom and life? I thought somebody needed to write about them from a perspective of honoring that depth and that importance.
Q: This begins to hit on the three big questions that set you on your course almost 20 years ago, in the midst of a life-threatening car accident. Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter? That’s how deep you’re trying to take the reader here.
A: Yeah, Manifesto is ultimately a book of action. I hope it gets people to say, I want to reclaim my life agenda now. I want to advance. I’ve been holding back.
And that’s also why I made sure to end the book with the idea that even amidst the speed of the progress that people have when they want to revolutionize their lives, they should allow themselves to feel the moment and feel the progress and the success.
We remember those first couple glances or looks with a loved one. We remember the pride when our kid walked across the stage and got his high school diploma. We remember the moment when a child took her first steps. There are moments that we allow to sear into our soul a little bit, and we have to do more of that by slowing down time, sensing what’s happening around us even as we’re charging forward in our lives, even as we’re knocking off our to-do lists and accomplishing hard things.
Q: You write in the book that another moment achievers never forget is when they write out what they want in life—their declaration of independence, really.
A: So many people who achieved big goals say, “I just grabbed a journal, a piece of paper, and I started writing everything that I wanted my life to be about. I wrote my goals for the first time. I wrote a picture of my future. I described my ideal lover. I started writing about how I wanted to feel each day, or I wrote how I’m going to lose some weight, and I wrote down some real declarations. I wrote down some real promises to myself.”
Maybe they didn’t call it a manifesto. Maybe they tore apart 50 napkins writing it at Starbucks, or maybe they entered it in a nice journal. But they actually wrote down who they were and what they desired of life. And they felt a kinetic energy bursting around them, and this incredible internal charge because they could see it and sense a different future for themselves. And that excited them.
Q: What stops people from pursuing their best possible lives?
A: Part of mastery is becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. It does feel insane to change our lives, especially when we “have it so good.” The reality is any person trying to shift something in his life is going to have to get a little bit crazy and say, OK, I’m going to head into the unknown.
I liken it to the journeys of Lewis and Clark. They had no idea what it meant to go out West. They had no step-by-step. They had no real plan. They were in unmarked territory, but that was part of the magic and the adventure of their lives. We all have to have that willingness to go out into the wilderness, out into the unknown with full faith that we’ll figure things out.
Q: And the Lewis and Clark Expedition lasted a little over two years. After this book, do you feel like you can relate?
A: Oh, boy. It taught me to believe in the extraordinary power of discipline and faith, I would say, and to fight for what you believe in, and to fight for your dream. It was such a dramatic journey.