Did I live? Did I love? Do I matter?
“When you are sliding towards death’s doorway, you have questions about life,” Brendon Burchard said.
The three most important questions of Burchard’s life came to him in the midst of a horrific car crash. In an instant, he saw his 19 years flash before his eyes.
As Burchard stood in the wreckage of his friend’s car, the college student found himself asking three questions:
Did I live?
Did I love?
Do I matter?
Though he didn’t know it at the time, these three questions would change not only his life, but the lives of millions around the world.
Today Brendon Burchard is the world’s leading high performance coach. He provides personal development training to the masses via his courses and online platforms. With more than 300 million views and two million students in his online courses and video series’, he’s earned the title given him by Oprah.com as one of the most successful online trainers in history.
Burchard’s programs have had 28 seven figure online launches, and his personal client list is long and impressive. His list of accomplishments goes on and on, but at heart he's a true man of service, living an incredible life helping others.
Providing wisdom to powerhouses such as Jeff Bezos, Oprah and enough professional athletes to field a team is no small task. Burchard doesn’t take this responsibility lightly, and he also hasn’t allowed it to go to his head.
Burchard recently sat down with Jay Shetty for an episode of his podcast ON Purpose with Jay Shetty. He shared about his life, his work, and the keys to his own success and performance that have also helped transform the lives of his clients.
The Two Things That Saved His Life
Today, Brendon Burchard oozes humble confidence. He speaks with measured assurance, and there is intention in his message. Like anyone, he had to start somewhere, and he has come a long way since the beginning.
It all started with a messy break-up with a long-time girlfriend. Burchard told Jay Shetty that afterwards, he found himself a devastated college student who couldn’t get out of bed.
He had followed her to college and had no future plans of his own, so their split left him feeling like he literally had nothing else left to live for. He crafted a suicide note and planned to end his life.
Burchard credits two simple things with saving his life: reading and marketing. He described how as a voracious reader, he consumed books even in the pit of his despair. One day not long before the date he’d planned to take his own life, a headline in the school newspaper jumped out at him.
“Here's this full page ad with a white sandy beach, turquoise water, blue sky, and green palm trees, and across the top was the best headline ever for a young man in pain,” recalls Burchard.
The headline across the top of the page said “Escape” – exactly what Burchard was desperate to do. The ad was promoting openings for summer tour guide positions in the Dominican Republic. He applied, was accepted, and the entire trajectory of his life was changed.
Meeting Destiny Head On
Brendon Burchard’s summer in the Dominican took a terrifying turn when he and a friend were in a car accident. As he stood in the wreckage of the crash afterwards, he recounted the minutes that had just passed.
During the accident, Burchard saw a slow motion slideshow of his life. He discovered that while his life had been good, he hadn’t truly been living the way he wanted. It was at that moment a new realization hit him.
“Until that point, I'd lived her life,” he told Jay Shetty. “I lived my parents’ and professors’ lives. I really hadn't been living my life.” Burchard felt like God was giving him a golden ticket; a chance to try again.
“I almost felt like I was told I was going to be okay,” he said to Jay Shetty. “I call that my life's golden ticket moment, because I felt like God reached down and handed me life's golden ticket. ‘Here you go, kid, you're still alive. You can still love. You can still matter. But now you know the clock is ticking’.”
Back in the Saddle of Life
Armed with that golden ticket and his three questions, Brendon Burchard returned home. Determined to live with no regrets, he started going to bed asking himself three questions every night:
Did I live?
Did I love?
Do I matter?
While these questions were the foundation of his transformation, he realized asking them alone was not enough.
“I didn't have it together,” he told Jay Shetty. “And that began my great and long-term committed search to studying psychology.” Burchard was on a mission to discover the answer to all the questions he had, including:
- Why do I think I’m so dumb?
- Why do I feel so bad about myself?
- How do I overcome depression?
- How do I deal with this sadness?
Burchard told Jay Shetty this led him to do what he does best – read.
“I started reading everything in psychology first. Then I came into personal development and spirituality,” he told Jay Shetty. “Then I got into leadership development and business.”
Determined to change his life, Burchard spent every available moment for the next six years studying change in some way or another. He studied psychology, political science, organizational communications, and management. With each new subject, his goal was simple. He wanted to determine how people change.
The Best School Around
Brendon Burchard was driven by his infatuation. As he gained more success, he grew in strength and habits as a person. He also began developing a vision for sharing wisdom with other people.
Burchard had truly become a student of life, learning how to ask the right questions, set applicable goals, and focus on the important things. Everything stemmed back to his three questions.
“I really believe when you are a student of life, especially in psychology and philosophy, you get the edge,” said Burchard to Jay Shetty. “When people are having problems, they can’t see perspective around it. Most people are trapped in their problems. Once you have perspective, you have superpowers.”
“I think we have such an answer obsession today,” agreed Jay Shetty. “We're all trying to find the answer, and actually what you're saying is the emphasis should be on the questions.”
For Burchard, questioning has become a strength, not a weakness. He’ll never forget a concept he learned from Oprah Winfrey – seek clarity, not answers. No one can know everything. Intention comes from gaining understanding about how to move forward.
“Real confidence is your belief in your ability to figure things out,” he told Jay Shetty.
Burchard had found his calling and he began to run with it. He developed an online course and began speaking. As his work gained traction, so did his voice.
High Performance Habits with Jay Shetty
Brendon Buchard was not just satisfied with hypothesizing about the things he was teaching. He wanted proof. This led to Burchard conducting the world’s largest study on high performers.
Getting into the brains of powerhouses from around the globe enlightened Burchard. After interviewing 300 of the world’s top high performers, he discovered high performers all shared common traits and habits.
“They are more clear about self, social interactions, skill, and service,” he told Jay Shetty. “High performers have an intention of who they want to be, and they are clear about that. They have answers when they’re asked questions because their identity and confidence is ingrained in them. It is something they hone every day.”
Burchard is the man for those who are on the journey toward a high-performing life. The small steps he helps them implement contribute to transformative change in their lives.
“High performers are incredibly intentional about how they want other people to feel,” Burchard told Jay Shetty, using Shetty himself as an example. “What I love about you is that you want people to feel like they are your friend, and you want to feel like a friend to them.”
He explains that people with intention know who they are on all levels.They’re intentional in the simple things, like knowing what they want to eat for breakfast, and also in the larger things, like how they treat others and serve the world.
Skill development is another common trait among high-performers. It takes time and effort, but skill is necessary for high performance. Burchard recalled to Jay Shetty that when he started out, he needed work. He had to learn how to speak on video so he could book more speaking engagements.
Voice lessons helped him grow his voice strength, a skill demanded of him as he led conferences and spoke for hours a day. Effective communication and emotional intelligence also did not come naturally to Burchard, but he didn’t let that stop him. He found the training to acquire the skill.
The skills necessary for life are constantly evolving. High performers never stop improving their skills, and they work on those skills with focus and precision. They also know exactly what skills they need to get where they want to be.
While Burchard talks a lot about self-improvement, he is determined to not let it stop there. His life has been centered around service to others and he believes fulfillment is found in that. Like anything, service is most effective via focus.
“High performers know the service they want to give to the world,” Burchard told Jay Shetty, “Maybe they don't know it exactly or perfectly, but they're intentionally moving towards that.”
This can be a lot to take in, but a person doesn’t have to know everything all at once. Jay Shetty encourages listeners not to get overwhelmed.
“Just go and find the missing piece of the puzzle,” he said. Brendon Burchard agrees that it’s easier than most people make it out to be. He urges people to start small.
Practice Makes Progress
Information is useless if it’s not put into practice. Brendon Burchard explained that one thing holding many people back is the pursuit of perfection. Jay Shetty and Burchard agreed high performers don’t work from a place of perfection; they work from a place of progress.
According to Burchard, those who don’t start because they can’t or won’t do it perfectly are actually just afraid to start, or worse, afraid to fail. Working from a place of self-confidence and progress, however, gives high performers an advantage – action.
Jay Shetty shared his own example of being frozen by perfection as he started out. After nailing his first video, he felt paralyzed to live up to that standard again. Knowing he couldn’t measure up caused him to pull away from what he could do.
“I was engaging less to connect with my audience to understand what they needed,” Jay Shetty said. “I was giving less. I was trying fewer ideas, which meant that I wasn't learning. I wasn't growing at all, and I wasn’t progressing.”
From this, Shetty learned to only aim for 70%. He learned that striving for perfection did not bring it. It only paralyzed him.
Blazing New Trails But Not Going Alone
Leaders and high performers are often portrayed as lone wolves who ascend to the top alone. Brendon Burchard’s study uncovered that this is not the case.
“High performance means you succeed beyond standard norms over the long term while maintaining wellbeing and positive relationships,” he explains. One of his mentors told him, “If you are lonely at the top, you’re doing it wrong.”
“Like Booker T. Washington taught us, there are two ways to exert strength,” Burchard told Jay Shetty. “One is pushing down, the other is pulling up. High-performers are the pulling up kind. That's why they also don't report being lonely at the top.”
Don’t Just Stand There
Collaboration and change are Burchard’s passion, and he makes things happen. Other people have a lot of knowledge, but may not do anything with it. Not Brendon.
He believes, though, that his message must do more than sound nice. Change needs to happen, and it comes through action. This is why Brendon is so passionate about his work and its power to equip high performers and world changers. He sees the value in action; not just words.
“The world needs action-takers right now,” he told Jay Shetty. “It desperately needs it. We have a lot of sideline conversationalists, a lot of sideline judgment. We have a lot of people not in the arena, and we need more people in the arena in play.”
Burchard believes that when people take action and fight for what matters to them, they’ll sleep well knowing they have lived every day to their fullest, secure in who they are, how they have lived and loved, and how they matter in the world.
He is convinced that people who ask and can answer his three questions well will change the world.
Did I live?
Did I love?
Do I matter?
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode with Brendon Burchard, “The Habits Of High Performers & How to Operate At Your Optimal Level” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.