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February 24 2014

Fire, Being Tired.

The secret in life to never getting tired is simple. Live your truth. 

When you’re doing what you’re passionate about you never actually get tired. You may be in need of serious rest on a regular basis, but you won’t get tired. Being tired is the pits. 

When you are tired, it’s actually a pretty sure sign you are on the wrong track. If you are tired of your job you might want to think about a graceful exit. You are not doing your employer, or yourself, any favors here. And you are not excelling. You can’t. Because you don’t love it. You will only excel at what you love.

I’ve known too many people who describe their most constant state as that of being ‘tired.’ Not worn out or exhausted, just tired. Tired most all the time. Some report they even wake uptired. I can relate. I was in that place so many years ago. It’s not pretty.

Waking up tired all of the time is basically depression, but the state of ‘being tired’ is a sure sign that you’re just not doing what you’re passionate about. For whatever reason, you’re not living your truth. Your purpose or passion is essentially what you were put on this earth to do. It’s your very own spiritual fingerprint, and no two are exactly the same. We are all priceless originals, but we can quickly fall into a rut. We become a slave to a routine, because its comfortable. We start doing ordinary and average, when we are built for extraordinary and excellence.

We tend to live our truth best as children, yet in adulthood many begin to believe it’s childish to dream big dreams. The light of hope often then dims in our lives, oddly enough right when the maturity, wisdom and the strength of adulthood comes in. The very things that could make almost anything manifest destiny. Somewhere along the way we adults often lose the ‘magic sauce' we had in abundance as young people.

My personal approach to life is simple. I try to maintain my childlike optimism, an absolute passion for life, an inner creativity, a commitment to my ideas and my ideals, and a very high engagement level in every fiber of my being. I work hard to believe in other people, even when they are very often working very hard for me not to. And most of all, I never make decisions with my head. I let my intuition guide my decision-making 100% of the time, and I then allow my brain to navigate that chosen course. Whenever your brain is in charge of your life, it is only a matter of time before you will feel the phenomena of being tired. Your brain was never intended to be in charge of your life, but that’s another post.

In many ways I have simply refused to ‘grow up,’ while simultaneously being fully committed to the maturity, growth and sober decision-making that only adulthood offers. To quote my late friend Dr. Dorothy I Height, “John, you're a dreamer with a shovel in your hands.” I am far from perfect, but I am perfectly committed to life.

My favorite question when I meet people is "what are you passionate about?" I am surprise how many people seemed surprised by the question. Most say that no one has ever asked them that question before.

When I ask friends this question it’s simply a gentle, loving remember to never give up, or give in. A reminder for them to get back on the grind, of their most authentic and purposeful hopes and dreams. To never, ever let hope and dreams fade away or fall aside. Because thisis life. 

All too often we convince ourselves that it’s okay to settle, but there’s no honor in living a life small, nor in beating yourself up because you allowed yourself to. That's just plain wrong. 


I often go to bed whipped, wiped out, exhausted, worm down, worn out, even beat. Sometimes I don’t have enough energy left to type even one more key on a keyboard. I have given life everything I have that day. But, I’m not tired. Those days are gone. 

I love what I do. I absolutely love every moment of it. Even the utterly frustrating parts have some reward, some gift, or some lesson to be learned tied to that pain. Something real and enriching which I can in turn find value in. But the real answer here is that I am simply blessed to be living my truth. And that my friends, is the real freedom. It’s self-determination. 

I am lucky and fortunate here, yes, but I also helped to create my own luck. I cultivated and curated my own spiritual fortunes over the course of my own life, and finding a way to be ‘reasonably comfortable in my own skin’ has been my all consuming life-obsession. Most of my childhood friends just wanted to be rich, but I wanted to be wealthy. There's a bigdifference. 

Countless reports note the sad reality that most people don’t actually enjoy what they do everyday, and this ‘wearing down’ of ones spirit can no doubt make you ‘tired.’ Makes perfect sense. But it doesn’t mean that you have to remain this way. It may be time for a reset. 

Watch for clock watchers. These people cannot wait until the clock strikes 5pm everyday, so they can leave their place of drudgery (I mean work, sorry). As for me, I find that I am always fighting for more time! If I had a choice between more money or more time, I would ask for more time. With more time, I could make more money. The funny thing here is I always have to actually remind myself to leave my office. What about you? The answer is important.

People who say they are bored. Bored is the real killer. Bored at work is a first cousin to professionally tired. You just don’t enjoy what you do, plain and simple. And someone being bored in life overall ~ well that is just a complete mystery to me. Life is just so very exciting.Or could be.

I simply cannot find enough time to read all of the articles and books that interest me. To meet and talk to the people that captivate me. To explore the amazing Internet-knowledge-caves that seem to lay around every online e-corner. To bring to life the many ideas streaming continuously through my head. To dream the most impossible dreams. The man that raised me spiritually once said there was in fact an 11th Commandment; “thou shalt not bore people." Boredom is just the worse. 

Running to retire. Most people who just cannot wait to retire don’t really enjoy what they do (professionally) either. Dreaming about retirement is a sure sign that you are in fact tired. I completely understand the need to re-wire, to refresh, but respectfully, I really don’t understand the desperation to retire. 

I think about my mentor and personal hero, civil rights icon Ambassador Andrew Young. 81-years young and still waking up every day early, absolutely excited about contributing to a world better. Young easily clocks 250,000 air miles a year. Watching him exhausts me.

Or my mentor and friend Quincy Jones, at 80, who is as busy or more so than Ambassador Young. Quincy no doubt clocks more air miles, and shows no signs of slowing down. Now he is developing the first ever international record label, with artists literally in all parts of the world. More Grammy awards than anyone alive or dead, and yet he is focused only ontomorrow’s young creative geniuses.

Or my spiritual father, the Reverend Dr. Cecil "Chip" Murray, who at 84 is running the Cecil "Chip" Murray Center for Community Engagement at USC. A start-up social entrepreneur at 84, and in better shape and with more energy than you and me combined. 

I think about Ted Turner, who didn’t even start CNN until he was 41 years old. Or Nelson Mandela who created and implemented his world-changing vision well into his early 70’s. 

We should all remember that American retirement was a political creation during the Great Depression. FDR innovated it, copying it from Europe, in an effort to ‘create’ jobs for out-of-work 18 year olds here in the states, during the height of the Depression. He accomplished this by giving those 65 years old and older something new to do — a retirement. Today retirement is an industry and almost a parallel reality in and to itself.

There is larger portion of global GDP that is now completely dependent upon folks obsessing about retirement. Life is interesting.

There is nothing wrong with a rest, but there is something really deadly about being tired all the time. 

Everyone getting a life, really is not an option anymore. Today it’s simply spiritual self-preservation. To quote author Deepak Chopra, “we are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings, having a human experience.” Energy matters. 

Vow from this day forward to never, ever, allow yourself or anyone you love to be tired ever again.

The oft-ramp right before No Hope Road, is probably I’m Tired Boulevard. Don’t get off on either. Just keep on driving, forward. Hope's ahead.

Let's go.

John Hope Bryant is the founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), and is the only 2010-2012 bestselling business author in America who is also African-American. His newest book, due out May, 2014, is HOW THE POOR CAN SAVE CAPITALISM, and will be published byBerrett Koehler Publishing).

Follow John Hope Bryant on LinkedIn Influencers here.

Photo: Matthew Antrobus/The Image Bank via Getty Images