Broken Dreams and Burritos


I used to live in this tiny apartment in San Francisco. It was tiny. There they called it a “junior one bedroom,” but the rest of the world would say it’s a studio where they put the mattress in the closet. My mattress was literally in the closet. It was a double sized bed that took up the entire closet. There was no way to walk in the closet, because it took up the entire closet, so I’d sleep with all my clothes hanging above me.

There was this little window in there above the bed, and it was always freezing in there because it had this big draft coming in. I duct taped this towel over it, because I’m from Montana and we use duct tape on everything.

So it was this tiny little apartment, and I had a pretty good job. At least the job paid for the apartment. I’d get up and board the bus, go to downtown San Francisco and work my job, and everyone said it was a good job.

But in my heart I always recognized that sometimes the busy work that we have isn’t our life’s work.

I was busy all the time. I was earning some money but it wasn’t my thing. I sensed inside that there was something else I wanted to do.

I want to do this: I want to be a writer and a trainer and share a message with the world that hopefully inspired or motivated people or moved them in some way. And that’s all I really wanted to do, but I didn’t know this could be a career, at that time.

So I struggled for a long time to try and make ends meet, but then what ended up happening was, I went for it.

I quit everything that I was “supposed” to be doing and I just went for it.

Just like everyone said, exactly what they said happened: I quickly went bankrupt chasing my dream. It’s hard. I know maybe you’re chasing something right now too and you’re limited on income or opportunity, we’ve all been there before. It’s what we do with those times.

I remember I just wanted to be a writer, so I would go down to this fancy coffee shop. I’d sit there and order my green tea and watch all the people. I’d sit there and try to write once in a while, but I didn’t have any discipline yet and it got harder and harder, but I really believed in what I was doing, even as I went broke and had to give up that apartment and move into another apartment.

It was so challenging.

I remember I used to go to this little burrito shop too, down the way. It was like all I could afford were these cheap burritos, but I really loved to go in that place because these old guys ran the joint. You could tell they were always into their work. They struggled for a hard days work even though it was some nasty burritos, but it was all I could afford.

I look back at that time with a lot of joy, because it was that struggle and hardship but I never let it limit me.

You know humanity only has two recurring characters in its narrative and that’s struggle and progress, and a lot of us don’t want the struggle, but if we want to throw out the struggle we’ll never have the progress and we have to be okay.

Like, be okay with the fact that it’s hard. If you’re trying something new, be okay that it’s going to be a struggle and it might be a long slog for that.

When you knock on the door of opportunity, never be surprised that it’s work who answers.

It’s going to take challenge. It’s going to be difficult.

I’ll tell you, I would come home at night from my job at the time when I had it, and later on when I didn’t have it and no matter what I’d stay up late at night writing, trying to get my message out there. Trying to figure out what I was doing and bam, I kept at it.

Years later, there would be a number one New York Times bestseller, a number one Wall Street Journal bestseller, number one on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles, huge bestselling books all around, and have the opportunity to literally travel and meet everybody I ever wanted: U.S. Presidents, famous celebrities, entrepreneurs and thought leaders in the world. I loved it. And everything turned out.

But some people think it was just luck… people tell me all the time, Brendon, you came out of nowhere.

I reminded them, “No, I came from a small American town called Work.”

I believed in myself and I just kept working, even when I had no reason to believe it would ever work out.

That’s faith, that’s belief in one’s self: that despite who we are and what we’re capable of today, maybe tomorrow we can become more and become more capable.

I just had that belief. I just decided to have it. I had no reason to have it I just decided to have it.

A couple months ago, in fact, I went back to San Francisco. I’ve since moved and found my dream home up in Portland, Oregon. I got to go back. I remember going to that fancy coffee shop. I thought it would be cool to go and sit there and feel like what it felt like to become now, a bestselling author, having gotten to achieve my dreams, to go back to that place. I went back to that place and the café was closed. I looked through the windows and it was completely empty inside. I don’t know what the reason was, but it made me actually feel sad that they had closed down.

I walked along the street and there were all these people alive with ambition. You could see everyone on their own journey and I felt really connected to them, because I knew what they were doing, was in their own path, in their own time, meaningful. I saw a lot of optimism in people’s faces and it felt good.

I walked up the street and decided to see if that burrito place was there, the one where the old guys worked so hard everyday just to survive.

It was still open.

It made me think about the fact that sometimes it’s just that hard work that keeps us going. Sometimes, even if we aren’t perfect and we don’t have it all together, but we just believe and we struggle through and will ourselves forward every single day, then you know what, not only do we survive but we thrive when others don’t. Not only do we thrive, but we start to feel something better. We start to grow. We start to have something more magnificent in our lives than we ever imagined.

I never imagined that I would be here today getting to do this as a career, getting to talk to so many people around the world and getting asked to do all the cool things I get to do. I can tell you one thing; I never didn’t believe that it could happen. I didn’t imagine it, but I never had limits on what might happen for me.

So don’t limit yourself in your belief of what’s possible, because you never know.

Once you struggle and work hard enough to get mastery in certain areas you have no idea what new fields of opportunities are going to open up for you.

I say, keep struggling my friend’s, the journey is always worth it.