Finding and Following Your Personal Legend


I am my own worst saboteur. But I’m pushing past it.

My new job title feels overblown, but I claim it anyway: CEO. It’s been a long, difficult journey to get here. I’m now a small-business owner, entrepreneur, captain of my ship, and also chief cook & bottle washer.

My desire to do what I consider to be meaningful work has been alive since I realized my occupational purpose in college. But I stalled, delayed, and intentionally detoured. It was easier at the height of the Great Recession to become a copy editor than it was to work a beat as a reporter. It became a pattern for the years to follow as a professional: pursuing what was expedient, not what was meaningful.

Only now, though, do I realize that the biggest saboteur of my dream of a meaningful career was me. Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist crystalized it for me.

“To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation,” the King of Salem tells the young shepherd, Santiago.

I had ignored my destiny, or what Coelho calls a Personal Legend, because I didn’t believe in what I had to offer to the world. I didn’t believe that I was good enough, smart enough, hard-working enough, or capable enough to go out on my own and survive.

Learning from a conscious competitor

I’m fortunate to be surrounded by some remarkable people, one of whom is my jiu jitsu instructor, Emily Kwok, who recently took home another world championship. She had mentioned to me some time ago that The Alchemist was one of her favorite books and I made a mental note to read it. When she won the gold a few weeks ago, I texted her and told her that she is the ultimate badass, and that it was inspirational to watch her pursue her own Personal Legend.

At the time, I was unaware of just how much of her own self doubt she had to overcome to get to that point, a topic which she explores in this inspirational post. Even world champions, it seems, have their own brushes with self doubt and self sabotage. Her words made me realize just how much damage I had done to myself.

It took a year for me to finally step out on my own professionally, and it was a difficult year. I had a full-time job that was reasonably demanding, plus the task of getting my company off the ground. For better or worse, I allowed myself no wiggle room in my training schedule either. But when I finally took the leap into self-employment, I was surprised.

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it,” Coelho writes.

I’m not entirely sure if the universe is playing an active role here, but all I can say is that as soon as I left my job and ventured out on my own, opportunities began to appear, one of which is so awesome it still doesn’t seem real to me. It seemed like by deciding I was good enough, and by shifting my mindset from scarcity to abundance, the entire weight of the universe -- or at least my little corner of it -- shifted. I had and have momentum. The setbacks, so far, are just that -- setbacks.

I know it won’t always be like this. I know there will be, as always, struggle. But I know now that I’m good enough and I’m worthy. And I know that no matter what happens, it’s all pushing me toward my Personal Legend.

Of interest