Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Why Are You Here?

This, boys and girls, is the $64,000 dollar question. As you might know, I'm in the health and fitness game, but fifteen years ago, training folks, was sort of a "side" gig. I spent most of my time running around Hollywood auditioning for 3rd rate movies, Miller Lite commercials, and student films.

At a young age, I thought my purpose and reason for being on earth, was to entertain. I did some stand up comedy. Fun at first, but just hell toward the end. I had small roles in bad movies and bit parts in large, bad movies. I even got the occasional modeling gig. Posing? Was this the reason why I'm here? Truth be told, I was pretty unhappy most of the time while chasing my dream as an actor. It was crazy competitive and not very fulfilling. Exercise and fitness was a part time job in those days. I made a decent living training people, but it didn't seem like a lifelong career to me at the time. I wanted to be a movie star! Turned out, Brad Pitt I'm not. More like Don Knotts.

Along the way, I picked up Keith Elles's book, "The Magic Lamp." This book was a guide that helped me figure out what I was supposed to be when I grew up. After reading it and doing the lessons, I discovered that helping and working with people brought more satisfaction then acting in hemorrhoid cream commercials. I was put on this earth to teach. All those acting classes and 2 AM comedy spots in front of 3 people, were early training to help me deliver my message. I am extraordinarily fortunate to have made this shift to my present career. I eat, live and breathe my purpose every day. I feel very lucky to have been given this gift. It is such a satisfying feeling waking up every day knowing why I am here.

I believe that a majority of the people who suffer from poor health, sadness, depression, obesity and lack of fitness, do so because they don't know the real reason why they're here on this Earth. They have jobs, families and make money. Most have a warm bed and the creature comforts of a modern lifestyle. Is that enough? Is it filling the void? Is it everything you hoped and dreamed for as a kid?

Sure, you have your mini-moments of hope and bliss..a good night's sleep, a fun party, one of your kids scores a goal at the soccer game, a nice glass of Cabernet with your Italian dinner. A lot of people, most people, can link these little happy moments together for a lifetime and pretend that everything is just fine. The truth is their job doesn't fulfill them and the little victories are just Band-Aids. But this is life, right? W R O N G !

Is your job the reason why you are here? Is your family the reason why you are here? Is your glass of Cabernet during dinner why you are here? Maybe. For some the answer is yes. For many others the answer is a big fat NO. If the answer is NO, then whatcha gonna do about it? Read a book, go to a seminar, volunteer at a local shelter or school? What?

Here's a great example:

A man has a job and this job pays the bills, feeds the family and keeps a roof over everyone's head. But this job is not why he's here. He loves his family but it's not the sole reason why he's here either. This man loves riding his bike. He loves everything about bikes. The gears, the tires, the frames, the brakes. He loves tinkering with bikes. His "regular" job is just a job. He's purposeless. Someone close to him suggests that he apply for part time work at a local bike shop. At first, this means less time with his family, which is tough at first, but he wants to be a happy dad, so he takes the job working just a few hours a week. Five years later, he owns the bike shop. He took the risk and discovered his real purpose.

Have you ever been bored? If the answer is Yes, there is a chance, a likelihood, a possibility that you have not yet figured out why you are here. When you have found your purpose, you have discovered why you're here. It's hard to be bored when you're out in the world doin your thang! Your reason-for-being makes you happy. You want and need to do your thing often. When you are doing your thing, you are not overeating, you're not watching tons of TV, you're not prone to addictive behavior and it's very hard to be sad, depressed, anxious, overwhelmed and unhappy when you are doing your thing baby!

What is your thing? Will Keith Elles's book help you find it? Maybe. It helped me, but it wasn't the only source. Opening doors and staying curious helps too. Woody Allen said (he denies this, but we give him credit anyway) "80% of life is showing up" Most people are afraid to show up. New things scare people. Hard, complicated (at first) things can be frightening. Not looking good while doing something new, upsets people. I say so what, who cares and big deal to all that noise in your head. If you show up, you might discover why you are here. And after you've shown up use the other 20% to pay attention while you're there.

I know this little ramble is a touch esoteric, but I'm just here to help you figure out what's important in your life. It's a remarkably short trip. Won't it be sad if you never learn what truly makes you happy? Get out of your funk and discover what makes you click! Sometimes it's as simple as finding a hobby. Your hobby can become your life, your purpose, your reason for being here.


Andrew said...

Thanks for the awesome read. It's great to get new perspectives or find that our own perspectives aren't so unique. Thanks for all your insight.

I'm a 21 year old student who has gone from 270 lbs to 165 lbs (embarrassing but true). The inspiration came from self-searching, my best friend and P90X was a major help. I fell in love with pursuing better health internally and externally, though getting looks from the ladies is always encouraging too ;)

Demi Eliese said...

Great post, and great read. The book that helped me alot was "The Purpose Driven Life." I was in the Marines for 4 years and got out, had 2 kids, and then was like, "Is this it?" But it's not. Being happy with yourself comes first, then contributing to the good of this world, I believe, comes second. If you wake up every day and are completely excited and happy about the day God has given you..then I can say that you are in your sweet spot. :)

Rae said...

Preach it! I'm so glad that you didn't give up on finding what made you "click"! I walked away from a lucrative corporate career about two weeks ago to do something very similar, by that I mean pursuing what made me tick. Never been poorer, never been happier. I'm now wrapping up the MBA, getting into the shape I've always wanted to be in (thank you again!), and re-arranging my life to where it is no longer in charge of *me*.

I'd tell you how great that feels, but you already know.

I'd say I wish I did this years ago, but honestly I don't think I would have appreciated it as much then. Onward and upward!

Brian Thrift said...

Great stuff! I started P90X a while back. I was just starting phase 3 at the end of december and a string of bad choices started. Eating poorly and such. I started getting back on track, then I got sick followed by a basketball injury that has kept me from working out for the last month. I am starting over with the whole P90X. I am excited to get to my goal once again. Thanks for the encouragement. My passion is to become healthy again to see my young son when he is old. Thanks for finding your purpose so that people like me can begin to see theirs. Keep up the great work!!

LORI J said...

That was... in a word...BRILLIANT! :)

Serge said...

Hi Tony,

You always seem to know what's on my mind. How do you do that? During our P90X sessions you seem to say something that is perfect to get me going again ... every time! So its not surprising that I checked your blog today for some inspiration and again there you are with the inspiration I was seeking. I've been looking for my true reason for being here and I'm getting closer and closer, its like I can feel it. The closer I get the better I feel and the better I feel the more effort I put into feeling and the more I feel the more I discover about myself and those around me. It's crazy Tony! So I'm checking out that book and I'm showing up 100% of the time. BTW, this all started when I decided to show up in the first place. Purpose, what a great concept!

Thanks Tony

Kami said...

Great post.

nick from ny said...


I think you heard about it--a few weeks ago some fearless and brave US Airways airline pilot decided to use the frigid Hudson river as an emergency landing strip. Safe to say that he not only saved the day, but saved a whole bunch of innocent lives in the process. God bless him.

Well, I don't live too far from the landing site, so I decided to walk on over there after work and take in the action. Once I got to the Hudson ferry terminal, I found a mob scene of police and reporters, all waiting for some of the survivors to come out and file into buses. As the survivors slowly walked out, the first thing I noticed was the look on their collective faces. These are people who just cheated death, a potentially horrific death to say the least. Dude, to say that they were "in the zone" is an understatement. And then something just snapped in my head--we are here, because we all have a purpose, no matter how big or small, or wide or tall. Now, we may not know when or where that purpose may kick in, but so what?!? It's really not our call, believe you me. Just like those passengers on that plane, our purpose is to live clean, count our blessings, don't sweat the details, forge on and be flexible in body and mind. Life happens, death happens, and we renew.

Personally, right now I'm not exactly where I want to be professionally, socially, spiritually, physically and everything elsely... But work is in progress and continues, so it's all good. And again, Tony, I can't thank you enough for what you've done to help me along in this ever-changing journey. Godspeed.


Frank and Jean said...

Thanks, Tony. I needed this.

snowy said...

An inspirational and insightful passage. I learned a similar lesson from my mother's courageous bout with cancer. She faced her illness with humour and grace and made me realize that life is too short to simply exist. I wasted half my life dealing with depression and anxiety. Then I realized that this is the only chance I get at life. I didn't want to live in fear. I discovered I could choose to be happy, I could choose to be fearless, I could choose to live! Your P90X program allowed me to discover I was stronger than I ever thought I could be. As my body become stronger and the challenges increased, I also became mentally stronger. I learned that there is nothing I can't do if I just try. Some days, I feel invincible. My nine year old daughter says I'm like wonder woman, which I think is a good example to set for her. I was at the depth of despair when I discovered the P90X program and now, I choose to live, and to do it without fear. I don't exactly know what my purpose is in life, but I am confident that I will find it. In the meantime, I am grateful that you have found yours. You have inspired many, and it would not be an overstatement to say, you may have saved a few lives along the way.

Khashayar said...

Dear Tony,

First of all, thank you for this GREAT post. As a recent immigrant to North America, the question you have asked is constantly on my mind. Maybe the book you mentioned can give me more clues as to how I can turn this dream of mine into a reality.

Also Tony, I desperately needed your expert advice on a rather unique problem I have faced in my P90x work-outs (after just finishing the second round of it) and since I can't attend the chat sessions you regularly hold on Beachbody, I was wondering if you have a public email address I could use to contact you or if you at all address such questions through email?


Khashayar from Toronto.

Amit said...

Thank you so much for this timely advice. I am about to do something completely different and challenging in the next few months. I was nervous but after reading this I have decided to "show up"!
Thanks again for being such a constant source of inspiration.



Phil Nasr said...

Like the post. I know, I am moving out of that rut now. Many blessings and your touching more lives now than you would before. If you think about it, most actors aren't remembered after their time segment of fame and success, not all continue on because 1 flop and their career will turn them into the lead role of "The Pacifier 2". Just kidding, just an example. I take my hat off for Vin Deisal for doing what he loves to do. Anyways, i digress. The point is from what I learned is that every event, is a stroke on my canvas of life. It is a piece of art in the end. I have had 2 depressive episodes due to events that unfolded however I am thankful and happy for every downturn or upturn I have experienced. Anyways, take care.

Wudpkr said...

Tony, I can not say how close you have "got it".. I am passing this along to friends and family....

awesome...just awesome..

Ed New fan and P90xer said...

I just happened to be sitting here at my kitchen table crusing the web (re:P90x) and got here by a blog roll. I am appreciative of the 90x series and what it has done for me, but this is another dimension to you that really impresses me.

You are a good man. There is hope in this dismal economy and outlook.

Take care, Ed

Anonymous said...

Good stuff Tony! I'm like you in that I shifted gears, and chased/discovered my passion later in life. I'm 35, and deep in grad school to become a DC. Sure I wish I would have made this decision earlier in my life, but at the same time I wouldn't change change a thing. My experiences define who I am, and through them I value my life so much more.

Ali said...

My dad, a very talented artist, spent the whole first half of his life doing what was expected of him by his parents - he went to West Point, got an engineering degree, earned a decent living at it -- but he was miserable. He finally retired early and went professional with his artwork and is very happy now, has a gallery, and loves his life. He used to always tell me to do what I would do even if I didn't get paid for it. To follow my bliss. Good advice I think -- as is yours, Tony.

But I tend to also think that we are put on this earth to make a contribution somehow, make some kind of a difference somewhere, somehow, to go outside of ourselves. I want to use my gifts to help others, and contribute something useful to some small part of this world. That's what I shoot for anyway.

Thanks for sharing this, and for using your gifts to help others. Wow, what a great influence you are on so many.


dusty hicks said...

I completely agree. I am in that situation and I'm trying to find what my "thing" is. I've been chasing this dream of mine for almost 7 years now and i'm not giving up, ever. I have a job, but it's just a job, it pays the bill, but i know it's not my purpose. I will keep searching and I will find it... and in the meantime i'll keep rockin with P90X! Thanks

CT Olson said...

Great post Tony! I think you could broaden your purpose to inspiring people and motivating people - you're not a bad writer either. One thing I heard a while back that seemed to resonate - we derive the most happiness from our relationships with other people. Not meaning personal romantic ones (necessarily) but I mean communicating with and communing with other people - our coworkers, friends, families and communities, or people we're coaching or teaching. You are fortunate in your work that you get to meet and help so many people - must be very rewarding!

Ann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann said...

Finally someone else saying what I've been thinking for years. My entire perspective and purpose in life changed 15 years ago when my husband of 2 yrs died in an accident (we were in our early twenties). It's unfortunate that it took such a big event to wake me up, but it did wake me up at the core. I feel fortunate to have spent most of my adult life consciously aware of what is most important. I'm one of the lucky ones who figured it out early. I wake everyday feeling grateful for who and where I am. And I continued to find ways of growing and transforming every time I turn around.

My latest adventure is being back in school again in my late 30s doing what I absolutely love - Chinese Medicine/Acupuncture. I found my calling! I often talk to my patients about the philosophy you wrote about. I live what I teach and it has made all the difference. I walk around with a goofy grin on my face all the time because I'm so content. Now I work to help others find their truth and inner purpose.

Thanks for the posting. I don't have the same size pulpit from which to reach people, but I do have a small one. I do my best with what I have.

Anonymous said...


I just made the transition and discovery you are talking about. After 22 years as a CPA, exciting I know, I decided to resign from my firm as a partner and start a business performance coaching practice.

Being a business coach has really opened my eyes to my greater purpose which is helping others find the best in the business and personal life. Maximize performance and continually raise the bar.

In connection with this career change I also began to change my physical condition by using P90X. I beleived that in order to have a successful business coaching practive I needed to be physically fit.

Below is a credo for success that I adapted from a book by Brian Tracy, "The Psychology of Success".

In the work that's been done on peak performance, we find several interesting thing:
• It is the natural tendency of the human being to stay within the comfort zone;
• It is the natural tendency of the human being to play it safe and not take chances;
• It is the natural tendency of the human being to become satisfied and complacent with their current level of accomplishment and to try nothing more.
Yet every peak performing human being, every single high achieving man or woman has been a person who has thrown off the natural tendency to play it safe and to stay within the comfort zone. They have continually tried to exceed their previous levels of accomplishment. They have continually moved forward into the risk zone to try something more, bigger, better and more important.
Every single accomplishment in the history of man has come from men and women who have had the courage to take risks to step out even though they had no guarantee or assurance of success.

As individuals we can accomplish great things in our lives so why wouldn't we strive for something big.

A great question to ask is, "What's the one thing you would do or change in your life if you knew you would not fail?"

The answer to the question may just be your purpose.

Go for it!

Anonymous said...

Why are we here...The Bible tells us in Ecc 12:13-"let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter, fear God and keep His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man."

We are put here to obey God's commandments, we will be judged by the New Testament John 12:48.

Nic Bechtel said...

Tony I love it when a person is strait forward with what they have to say, you deliver it and I agree 100%, I'm just now living my life at the age of 30, just turned 30 this January, and thank you so much for p90x,I also own p90+ but I going to do a few rounds of p90x before I move to the next level.

Mick_Circeo said...

Tony H!

Great blog, bro! Yeah, so we are all on that horizontal path -- thanks for all the great button-pushing, which is one of your most impactful gifts! :)


April K said...

Glad to have found your blog. Great message. I'll have to look into that book. We've read and listened to (over and over) "The Secret". It's part of the reason that we're able to do P90X, and stick with it.

You're great Tony, but you knew that : )

Tyler Roberts said...

Love P90X, but couldn't disagree more with this post. Personally, my only real LASTING happiness doesn't come from anything like a bike shop (to use your example), or anything materialistic for that matter. Lasting happiness can only be found in family or friends - from real relationships, NEVER anything materialistic.

Just my $0.02 cents. I probably misread your post anyway. :) Again, love P90X!

Sparkman said...

I am kind of backtracking through previous blogs to get a better perspective and to get some ideas on how to better my physical fitness.

As everyone else has said and I know all to well, you need to fulfill your purpose here, but be reminded that once you are who you want to be and doing what you were put on this earth to do, never let go of it!

I am a poster child of that concept. I had 10 years in the military and got out. During my 9 years as a civilian, I struggled to find myself again but never could.

An opportunity was afforded me to go into the Guard and I jumped on it in the hopes of finding my purpose again. As it turns out, I made a great choice. Now I am in a full time position and doing what I was made for; serving my country with pride.

The ultimate reward for me is when people come up to me when I am in uniform and thank me for my service (it happens every time I go of base). I have even had people pay for my order at off base establishments in thanks. It gives me goose bumps and I feel very honored every time.

When I reach retirement, I plan to continue serving my country with the military as a civilian because that is why I am here.

Jamie Duke said...

Great post. Thanks for pursuing your dream Tony. A book that I would recommend is "Chasing Daylight" by Erwin McManus. Extremely challenging. Much like your workouts. Not for the timid.

Danielle said...

I know this is an older post, but great nonetheless. This is something I've been thinking about more and more. I was laid off a couple months ago so I've been thinking about what my next opportunity will look like, and what will make me happy.

Unfortunately, I am one of those people that hasn't gone into the area that I want for fear of failure. I have always wanted to do something in fitness/nutrition/physical therapy that really helps others, but stopped myself because I'm not fit enough or I can't remember everything. I'm finally at a point where I'm willing to put myself out there and learn what is needed to succeed. What happens if it doesn't work out? I try something else! No biggie!

I will definitely read some of the books mentioned in the post and comments and if it's meant to be, those doors will open.

Thanks again,
Danielle in CA

Running~Jordan said...

Tony, I love this post.

I'm just starting phase 2 of p90x and my life is changing. I'm gaining clarity and I'm asking questions.

I work part time and I'm unfulfilled - when am I content? when am I not bored? when am I *alive* and *a light* in this world? When I am helping people with their running goals. Beginners. Women. People who have struggles in life with depression, addictions.

So here I am with this knowledge in my lap and with continuous confirmations that to follow your life path and destiny is to let yourself shine to the world.

I'm shedding pounds.

I'm gaining clarity.

I'm at the divergence in the road and one path looks much harder and uncertain from the other. It's the one I'm chosing.

Thank you for your insight and for helping me 'bring it' every day.

jack+alli said...

thanks tony. i love this! i'm a new reader and p90x grad. i'm glad you found your purpose, i'll be working on finding mine.

evision said...


Tisha Williamson said...

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Paul Smith said...

Thanks a lot for the awesome read!I know this is an older post, but great nonetheless. I'm not all that eager to poke my nose into other people's business, but you can always utilize (proof reading services) online!