‘How to Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World’
“Love is never stationary. Love doesn’t just keep thinking about it or keep planning for it. Simply put, love does.”
It is a good philosophy, getting to the “do” part of life, isn’t it? It’s inspiring, it’s down to earth, and it belongs to Bob Goff. It drives his vision and his purpose.
Bob Goff lives to help, to love, others. He wrote the best-selling book Love Does in 2012, in which he printed his private cell phone number at the end of the book and gave away all of the proceeds, too. He is an attorney and the founder of Restore International, a nonprofit human rights organization, which, so far in its fight for freedom and educational opportunities, has brought more than 200 cases to trial, pursuing justice, intervention and education for at-risk women and children in Uganda, India and Somalia.
If you want to change the world, or change your way of “doing” things, Goff has many suggestions. Here are just a few of them, four ways to live an incredible life in an ordinary world:
1. Find your purpose.
Goff doesn’t get caught up making life decisions, big or small. Why? It’s so much easier to make decisions when you know your purpose and it’s at the front of your mind—and his is clear. His purpose, something he can sum up in just two words, guides all of his decisions. A clear purpose provides direction and, simply makes things simpler.
“It isn’t this big cosmic purpose—it’s just to love people,” he says.
Of everything he does, he asks, What’s going to help me get to my purpose? If it doesn’t further his purpose, he stops doing it. In fact, Goff quits something in his life every Thursday—anything that doesn’t line up with what he loves to do most or how he plans to make a mark on the world.
2. Cultivate change.
Another reason Goff quits things is because he loves to cultivate change—he wants to grow as a person, and keep growing, and he does that by constantly changing things up. Which explains why, for 30 years, his law firm, Goff & DeWalt, dissolved at year’s end; it was all over on Dec. 31.
“We blew up the law firm every single year for three decades,” he says. “And it was beautiful, because about Jan. 3, people would come back and I’m out of work, they’re out of work, we’re all out of work. We would just decide, Do we want to do this again? And we would know why we were doing it.”
3. Focus on relationships.
We’ve all heard that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, but Goff has a different approach. He focuses instead on the eight people who truly matter most to him, to his life.
“I’m trying to surround myself during my life with the eight people I’d surround my bed with on my death,” he says. “Your eight will change, but just figure out who those important people are and surround yourself.”
The closest, for him, is his wife, whom he calls Sweet Maria. He schedules speaking engagements in order to fly home every evening for dinner. Inefficient? Maybe, but that doesn’t bother him.
“I’m not trying to be efficient; I’m trying to be present,” he says.
4. Build your legacy.
Sometimes Goff carries an empty bucket with him—as a physical reminder to practice patience. When asked about the 30 years it took to start and grow his law firm, he quotes the famous line, “The harder I worked, the luckier I got.” But to him, hard work is not about busyness or being busy—it’s about being “full.”
“The idea is that whatever you fill your bucket with, you’ll turn into,” he says. “Instead of picking your career and backfilling your life behind that, what if you pick your life and backfill your career with whatever is left over?”
So what does Bob Goff fill his bucket with? Things that last.
“I’m not measuring who I am and what I’m about, but whether it works or not—I’m just gonna go, Does it last or not?”