#1688 Lessons for Living

By Phil Stutz

As you know if you’ve been following along, I love Phil Stutz.

No human being has had a more profound impact on my life than Phil.

I consider him my spiritual father and feel blessed to have had nearly 450 1-on-1 coaching sessions with him over the last 7+ years—nearly every single week for over seven years and twice a week for two of those years.

My collection of notes from those discussions is, by far, my most prized and valuable possession.

To put it in perspective, if you told me I could have that stack of 1,500+ pages of notes or the thousands of books in my library, I’d take my notes with Phil in an instant.


As I was reading his newest book, Lessons for Living, I was struck by the fact that this might be as close as anyone who hasn’t worked with Phil directly will get to working 1-on-1 with him.

His first book, The Tools, remains one of my all-time favorite books. And, I loved his second book Coming Alive as well. (Check out our Notes on both.)

But this book is different.

It’s pure Phil.

The book is packed with Big Ideas on how to embrace, as per the sub-title of the book, “What Only Adversity Can Teach You.”

If you’re a fan of Phil, I think you will absolutely LOVE the book. (Get a copy here.)

For now…

Let’s take a quick look at THE very first words of the book…

Phil starts his book by telling us: “Our culture denies the nature of reality. It holds out a promise that you can live in an ideal world where things come easily, a world in which unpleasant experiences can be avoided, where there is never a lack of immediate gratification. Worse, it suggests that if you do not live in this world, something is wrong with you. This ideal world is a realm of illusion. No matter how promising this world seems, it does not exist.”

He continues by saying: “Be honest. Your own life experiences have been far from ideal. But what you have experienced is what is reality, not what you would like to experience. In short, the nature of reality is this:

  • Life includes pain and adversity.
  • The future is uncertain.
  • Accomplishment of any kind requires discipline.
  • You are not special. No matter what you did, you cannot avoid these aspects of life.”

And, he concludes by saying: “This will never change. There is love, joy, surprise, transcendence, and creativity as well, but these never occur separately from the above five points.”

The first truth of Phil’s work?

It’s the first Noble Truth of Buddhism as well.

Here it is...

In short: Life is hard.

Denying this simple fact of existence and telling yourself the story that life *shouldn’t* be hard is, arguably, THE greatest obstacle to your enjoyment of life.

When we quit arguing with reality and quit thinking something must be wrong with us because we’re experiencing life’s inevitable challenges, we can change our relationship to all the pain and uncertainty and hard work inherent to a good, noble life.

When we do that, we can fundamentally and permanently change our lives.

Just to make sure the five points are tattooed on your consciousness, let’s repeat them.

First: “Life includes pain and adversity.”
Second: “The future is uncertain.”
Third: “Accomplishment of any kind requires discipline.”
Fourth: “You are not special. No matter what you did, you cannot avoid these aspects of life.”
Fifth: “This will never change.”

That’s Today’s +1.

If you feel so inspired, perhaps you can find a piece of paper and a pen and write those down right now just to make sure they’re landing.

Today’s the day to move from Theory to Practice to Mastery as we embrace the lessons only adversity can teach us, Hero.

Day 1. ALL IN.

Let’s go.

P.S. I have some of my favorite heroes on my office wall. They are staring at me as I type this. Every morning during my meditation, I invite them to share some wisdom with me for that day.

Ralph Waldo Emerson tells me: “Trust thyself. Every heart vibrates to that iron string.”
Abraham Lincoln tells me: “Win the civil war—within your own mind.”
Marcus Aurelius tells me: “Play your role well.”
Joseph Campbell tells me: “We train heroes.”
John Mackey tells me: “Love life! (And get Heroic EBITDA positive.)”


Phil tells me: “Your infinite potential exists outside your comfort zone. We love pain, uncertainty and hard work. Bring it on!”

P.P.S. As you may also know if you’ve been following along, Phil wrote the foreword to my book Areté: Activate Your Heroic Potential. You can read or listen to it as part of the ebook and audiobook samples!

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