I believe everybody was born to do something extraordinary in this life. And I believe none of us will be satisfied unless we play our destined role in this great theatre of humanity.

Early in life you get a call. You get a call from the world that comes through certain signs, or as Paulo Coelho calls them in The Alchemist, certain “omens”. Those signs point you in the direction of your destiny and you see it so lucidly in the moments when it presents itself – you can’t stop fantasizing about it. It keeps beckoning you. This destiny is what Coelho calls your “Personal Legend”.

I’m willing to bet that you have been dancing with your destiny, on and off, for years. You know when you’re hot on its trail because life is humming with vitality, you’re nervous and a little scared. You’re being swept along in this current that is moving you forward with genuine momentum… it’s exciting but often destabilizing when it takes you like this early on.

It is likely that when you’ve felt this momentum take you – that early “lucky break” or that taste of what it feels like to be smack-dab in the center of your passion, you freaked out.

It was too big, too strong, and you inwardly trembled with its greatness. So you paddled your way out of the current, up onto the shore and huddled there, panting for breath as you watched it rushing by.

At this point you likely made a decision. You either decided okay, this thing is big, I now need to gather some skills to find stability and confidence to get back in and consciously ride this current. OR you decided whoa, this is big. Possibly TOO big. Too overwhelming. Too impossible. I’m going to get myself up and walk away from this current forever. I’m headed into the woods to build a shelter – a different kind of life that feels safer and more predictable.

If you took option number two, it is highly likely that you found a way to quickly batten yourself down with obligations. These obligations have kept you busy and given you just enough satisfaction to not be tempted back to the banks of your Personal Legend. These obligations have given you the perfect excuse to stay tucked safely in the woods…

I’ve got mouths to feed. I can’t just go do whatever I want. These kids/husband/wife depend on me!

Following my “passion” is selfish. I’m doing something better for the world. I’m doing a “real” job. Sure, I don’t particularly like it, but somebody has to do it, and I’m so selfless that I’ll bear this cross for others.

I couldn’t have “made it” in that industry anyway. It was perfectly logical for me to leave it behind. That was just a childish fantasy. 

Most of us are living somewhere between the safe shelter of the woods, and the wild rushing river of our Personal Legend. And don’t get me wrong, you certainly need to regularly detour into the woods to heal old wounds, make new tools and practice new skills for your return to the currents of your destiny.

The methods you stop to master along the way are what give you the skills to steer yourself consciously forward, instead of just being swept away. But if you stay too long gathering sticks and hobnobbing with the chipmunk community you’ve grown comfortable with, years might go by and that river might dry up.

Then one day, you might feel a breeze drift by that reminds you of “back then”, you might look up from the fortress of sticks and leaves you’ve built around yourself and wonder about that river… wonder if it’s still rushing, and imagine how far you could’ve been taken if you had at some point chosen to wade back in.

Then you might make your way through the overgrowth of briars and bushes, down to the banks and find that is just a trickle now… no longer moving with the great momentum of your earlier days.

But if you step down into the soft silt of the riverbed, walk out to that little rivulet that’s left, and take one step after the other, following its current, I bet it will gradually start to widen. It will gain momentum and force, and you will come to realize you never really left it and it never really left you.

Your destiny has been right there all along. And as it widens and deepens, you find you’re now willing to give over to its currents, it’s no longer worth it to deny its force, and so you dive all the way in and swim wholeheartedly along…


Well this obviously turned into a whole river metaphor. But I want to make sure it’s actionable for you. So if this analogy resonates, and you feel like you’ve abandoned your destiny and gotten stuck in the woods, this is what you’ve got to do: Follow your curiosity… that light breeze that sweeps in and lifts your gaze toward something beautiful, something intriguing… follow it.

Entertain your curiosities in just tiny ways to start… reading the book about the person who did the thing that excites you… taking the class that is teaching your strange passion… traveling to that place you’ve always been entranced by…. then little by little, let those curiosities fill up greater spaces in your life, until they have their own momentum and start to take you with them.

Does this make sense? I’d love to hear what all this brings up for you…


Photo: Talia Cohen

2 thoughts on “How to Pursue Your Personal Legend

  1. When I made the decision to leave the corporate comfort (extra scary as I had my daughter on the way) lifestyle. I looked back on all my readings, teachings, side work, dedication to the craft, I realized I had been in and out of the water (great metaphor) for over 13 years honing the skills necessary to ride the wave. My life instantly became laser focused (right about the time I met you) there was no looking back, i was all in. Best decision of my entire life.

    1. I love this. So inspiring. Thank you for posting R.E.! Love the idea of that ongoing preparation culminating in the laser focus when it was time to cut the corporate cord!

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