I've said this before about people and I'm happy to say it again after having met and gotten to know Nick. I'm so very glad to know that he's out there in the world every day just being him!
Think about that when you meet people that you truly feel are doing good for the world, no matter how big or small their impact. I know that at this writing, Nick is out there somewhere "Giving A Damn!" and just knowing that gives me hope for all humanity!
It's what Nick's whole life and message strives for and we need people in the world like him to remind us how much caring for others really means. We need people that will care for people because they're people. That reminds us that we all have that within us and just so often lose sight of it. We need people, like him to ask us real questions, tell us hard truths and do so in love and admiration of fellow humans. We need people that will openly cry at a movie and get red-faced angry at human injustice. That's Nick.
When I have such an amazing connection and interview with someone I always want to write my heart out about my experience and what I see in them, but I think for this one the short introduction is more than sufficient. Nick truly speaks from his heart and who he is is very evident in that. I encourage you to read and consider what he had to say to the project questions and I also highly encourage you to listen to his podcast, "Let's Give A Damn!" where he shares with you stories and people that you will also take great hope in knowing are out in the world every day.
Love Aimlessly, My Friends
What gets you out of bed every day?
I believe that each one us plays a vital role in making the world a better place. Through our work, through our families that we’re a part of and help raise. I get out of bed every morning to enrich the lives of people around me. I really really do. It start with my family. It starts with making sure that my wife and three children are experiencing the best version of life that they can. I also believe that we’re all in this together. I know people now, and I’m going to meet people today that will need what I have to offer, and vise versa. I truly believe that people that I meet today will go without if I don’t do the things that I’m supposed to do, and vise versa.
I told one of my friends yesterday, and I don’t think this is a bad thing either; I’m living my life in a way that will one day land me in the history books. Not because I need to be in the history books. Not because I need to be famous, but because I want to do something that’s worthy of being talked about long after I’m dead and gone.
So, I stay up late and I get up early because there’s work to be done. There are businesses to build. There are people to love. There are dinners to be had. There are pipes to smoke. There are questions to be asked. If I stay in bed those things aren’t going to happen.
On my website, my stated “What do you do?” says; “I help people give a damn, be radically generous and live a truly meaningful life.”
I think that if we start giving more damns that we win. We’ll be successful. I don’t just mean non-profit or social work. I mean in every way. If you give a damn you’ll spend more time just preparing the best meal for your friends, or you’ll spend that extra five minutes reading that book to your kid, or you’ll hug them tighter when they go to bed. Just giving a damn makes everything better. I also believe in radical generosity. I don’t see anything that I have as my own. I think that’s been super helpful for me.
I’ve been to 30 countries. I’ve been to every US state. By the end of my life I want to have had visited and spent time in almost every country. I’m part of the way there, but the reason that I do that is to potentially broaden peoples views. People that don’t give a damn are generally people that have never left their own contexts. Their safe environment. Some people can’t. Most people won’t. It’s 2017. They can get out and do things but they won’t because it feels safe and okay to stay.
Giving a damn and living a radically generous life… figuring out what makes this life truly meaningful. We all get the same amount of hours in a day. I might leave today, get hit by a car and die. I don’t know how long I have therefore every minute is valuable. I want to give all the damns I have here in our conversation and our time together because it literally could be the last. I don’t know. With the technologies we’re coming up with I could live to be 140, 150. Who knows though. It could be 5 seconds and I’m gone. That’s why I get up.
To date, what is the greatest lesson that you’ve learned?
The happiest life that I’ll ever live is an others focused life. That means a lot of things and we could talk about that for 10 hours, but that’s it. The happiest life there is is one focused on others.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t focus on myself at all. I have to focus on my health. I probably need to smoke less. I try to eat healthy and exercise. Whatever it may be. That is not an opposition to a life lived primarily focused on others. I believe that when we do that we’ll be the happiest we’ve ever been. I really really believe that. I’ve seen that come to pass over and over again.
I spend too much time sometimes looking at “that guy’s” highlight reel compared to my blooper reel. Right? We do this. “He’s 33 and he’s so much further than I am." The only way that I can get out of that conversation with myself and feel good and motivated to move on is when I think about all the things I’ve done that he hasn’t. All the people that I’ve touched that he never has.
I started traveling around the world when I was still a teenager. Just going off by myself or going to some orphanage in Peru when I was just 14. I just got on a plane and did it. “Mom and dad, I’m going on this trip.”
I’ve spent time in very wealthy parts of the world and also very poor. My favorite times have been with people that don’t have as much. I spent 6 weeks in the bush in Zambia, Africa. There was nothing. Just… “There’s the chicken. That’s what we’re eating for lunch”” and slaughtered it. I've crossed crocodile-infested rivers and spent time in the slums of India, the poorest parts of Jamaica, all over Eastern Europe; All of those experiences have really influenced me and taught me that the best thing that I can do in life is to be others focused.
If you don’t have people you don’t have anything! So you made a billion dollars? Who gives one flipping fuck?! You made a billion dollars so you could buy more stuff for yourself? That is meaningless! Look any anyone who’s ever lived that way. It didn’t make them happy. Other’s who only made 30k a year but are others-focused… happiest people in the world. They’re on cloud 9 all the time! Let’s learn from that!
If we just stopped thinking the way that most people think about money, our stuff and our things and not living an others-focused life I’m truly convinced that we could eradicate most of the worlds problems. That’s why I started the podcast, Let’s Give a Damn. I want to tell those stories and convince people of that. Most believe that if they get to a certain salary they’ll be fine. “If I make a 45k and I can just get to 80k I’ll be fine.” No you won’t! You’ll just spend at that level and you’ll just…. that’s not what it’s about. It’s about getting to a place where you make 80k (or whatever) and you only take home 40k because you gave the rest away. Everyone has to figure out what that means for themselves but we have to focus on others. Otherwise we’ll get to our deathbed and just be like “fuck… What did I even do with my life?” That is terrifying! Alternatively I can get to my deathbed and realize the life I lived for others, helping build schools and solving problems… Knowing that, I could drift off into eternity any day in peace.
Be others focused.
What is love?
Very complex but very easy to answer.
It is showing up every day. Just show up.
When I hear the word ‘love’ I try not to immediately relate it to romance. That’s part of it but not the whole. The truth of the matter is that it’s about showing up day after day after day. If I hug my kids and tell them that I love them but I don’t display that with my life then I’m a farce. If I tell my wife that I love her, make physical love to her, but I don’t then show up every day as a good husband and father, make them feel safe and build a good life for them and those around us… that’s not love. I think of it in terms of showing up every day. If I can show up from now until I’m 90 (or 140) I will have loved super well.
It’s obviously complex. There’s romantic love, there’s this other love and that, but it’s ultimately showing up. Do your thing and do it to the best of your ability. Don’t skimp. Don’t be lazy. Don’t live in the shadows. Be up front about your dealings. Be honest. That encompasses love for me. Anyone can “make love” to my wife or hug my kids but that's not what it’s about at the end of the day. It’s about me saying “Beck, no matter what we go though, I’m here and I’m going to show up every day.” That’s love! It’s not all “I can hold your hand and I can buy you stuff”. That’s part of it but I gotta show up every day or I’m a farce. I gotta show up for my kids and be true to who I said I was and am to them. Else all the other stuff is “Cool. You said that. You said you were going to that. You said you were going to do this thing, but you didn’t”
Show up every day.