Today we want to share with you the interview that our Executive Director, Mª Luisa de Miguel, conducted a few months ago with John Strelecky, author of the world long seller “A coffee at the end of the world”, a book that talks about vital purpose, what it means, how to discover it and how to live from it.
Mª Luisa de Miguel: A car trip to escape the routine, an unexpected detour, a mysteriously hidden place, and a conversation around a coffee. Why did you choose a conversation in an unexpected place with unexpected people to talk about the subject of purpose?
John Strelecky: The cafe story came to me through a stream of conscious typing experience which lasted for twenty-one days. It was very much like the story was coming from somewhere else, through me and onto the pages. So it wasn’t that I chose those elements of the story. They pretty much presented themselves to me and I got to write it all down.
Mª Luisa de Miguel: How can a conversation with the right people help us to discover our purpose in life?
John Strelecky: We all have blinders on. Things we’ve been told, beliefs we’ve adopted from random comments, things we’ve seen in movies, and dozens of other places. Other people have blinder’s too, but they’re different blinders. So talking with other people gives us the chance to see the world and our place in it, in different ways. This can be really helpful as it relates to discovering our purpose in life.
Mª Luisa de Miguel:What was it that led you to write Un café en el fin del mundo? What was your purpose with this book?
John Strelecky:As I mentioned above, the story came to me over the course of about three weeks. Prior to that I had taken a year off, sold almost everything I owned, and backpacked around the world on about 35 euro per day. The traveling was very life changing for me. Getting the chance to live the kind of life I’d been dreaming about, and seeing so many different people living so many different realities, was incredibly eye opening. Had I not just come off that trip, I don’t think the story would have flowed through me. It might have tried, but I wouldn’t have been in the right frame of mind to let it flow. My purpose in turning the story into a book, was to help someone else who also might be struggling with the same questions I’d been struggling with. Especially the question of- What is the purpose of life?
Mª Luisa de Miguel: Do you think there is fear of asking the «why we are here» question, fear of discovering our purpose? What do you think are the reasons for this fear?
John Strelecky:Perhaps. As I describe in the book, once you know your purpose, it becomes very hard to ignore it. We humans are often resistant to change, even when we know we really want change. And knowing your purpose and then living it, will in all likelihood, require making some changes. So maybe that’s a reason some people might fear discovering their purpose. I can tell you though, life takes on an entirely new and amazing dimension when we do discover and live our purpose.
Mª Luisa de Miguel: When did you discover your vital purpose? How did it happen? And what did this discovery change in your life?
John Strelecky: As the first cafe book started to spread, I began to get emails and letters from people saying how much the story meant to them. That’s when I began to first realize that maybe writing/being a conduit for these types of stories, was a big part of my purpose. It was a little intimidating at first. I wondered if I was capable or qualified to live that purpose. Over time though, I learned to get out of my own way and just live in the flow of what felt right and was having a positive impact on others and on me too.
Mª Luisa de Miguel: Some people discover this purpose early in their lives, during childhood or teen years. What does it depend on? Are there any special characteristics that allow these individuals to discover it earlier?
John Strelecky: I’m not sure. You’re right, there’s a big variance in when people discover it. I guess it depends on the type of environment you grow up in and whether you have the confidence to embrace something you feel called to do. For some people that environment exists from the time they’re very young. For others, myself included, it requires more time to be on your own, develop a better sense of self, and even get exposed to the concept of having a purpose..
Mª Luisa de Miguel: What are the elements that are commonly present in the purpose and that may act as key factors to discover it?
John Strelecky:I’d say curiosity to discover it, a wide field of vision to explore options, and a willingness to embrace what calls to you, are major factors which impact whether or not we discover our purpose.
Mª Luisa de Miguel: As Mike or Casey, main actors of your story, do, what can be the role of mentors in the task of helping to discover the purpose, considering a mentor as a person who has discovered his purpose and has lived according to it? Can mentors inspire us to discover or to pursue our purpose?
John Strelecky:Having a mentor can really accelerate our discovery experience. Whether the mentor takes the form of a character in a book, an expert who shares their wisdom online, someone we know and can talk to, or one of many other forms, it can be a great help. The key is we have to be willing to admit we need help, and then to embrace and implement the help when we get it. I didn’t understand the concept of mentors when I was growing up. I wish I had know it.
Mª Luisa de Miguel: What is the connection between purpose and happiness? How can you explain that connection and what it brings to a person’s life?
John Strelecky:I think one of the things which can make us happy is living in alignment with our purpose. Whether that’s being a great parent, designing cool apps, traveling the world…, that’s up to each person. Feeling out of synch with life is usually a good indicator we’re not spending many minutes each day in alignment with our purpose.
Mª Luisa de Miguel: Can the purpose become the new religion, a belief to cling to that gives us certainties, confidence, security, because it provides a guide in our lives, a common thread that gives meaning to it?
John Strelecky:I think knowing our purpose is like knowing North on our personal compass of life. It gives us direction and because of that direction we do feel more certain and confident. It also eliminates a lot of what causes us stress in life, because we aren’t constantly evaluating each decision from a place of uncertainty.
Mª Luisa de Miguel: What indicators tend to appear in a person’s life that may reveal they are living far from their purpose, that something is not working well?
John Strelecky: As I mentioned above, feeling out of synch is a big indicator. Statistically we have about 28,900 days of this gift called life. If we dislike our job so much we constantly wish we could fast forward to the weekend, that’s a sign something is way off. Those weekdays are precious. If we aren’t genuinely happy and excited when we wake up in the morning, that’s another indicator. The good news is, we can use those indicators to start making changes in our life.
Mª Luisa de Miguel: What is the meaning of flowing with life, as the turtle flows with the tides of the ocean? What can this beautiful metaphor described in your book teach us?
John Strelecky: There is a rhythm to existence. Times when we are flowing, and times when we are fighting the tide. When we allow ourselves to find what creates those flow moments for us, and then bring more of that to our lives, we end up happier and more energized. Sometimes this means just opening up our field of awareness a little wider. Other times it requires getting rid of what isn’t flowing in our lives so we can enable the flow to find us.
Mª Luisa de Miguel: What shall we do with all those stimuli that assault our lives and distract us from our purpose? Currently, which are the most dangerous and which should we pay more attention to?
John Strelecky: That’s really up to each person to decide. There is a yin and yang to all things. For example, our phones can be a non stop source of distraction, or they can be an amazing connection point for helping us live our purpose. If I decide my purpose is to be an amazing baker, but I’m caught up in the latest drama of the day through my phone, then it’s a distraction. If I use it to learn more about being an amazing baker though, it’s an incredible asset.
Mª Luisa de Miguel: We work more and more to earn more money and be able to buy more things that presumably make us happy and fulfilled. This fact prevents us from dedicating time to our purpose and in the end we feel frustrated. How may we break this chain?
John Strelecky: Although it might feel complex at times, the solution is pretty straight forward. Once we know our purpose, then we have the opportunity to allocate all our resources like time, money, energy, thoughts, etc. to living it. If we allow ourselves to start slowly with this, pretty soon we see how much positive impact it has on our lives and we can increase the speed and size of our efforts.
Mª Luisa de Miguel: What would you say to those who fear pursuing their purpose because they believe they are going to fail, they won’t be able to live comfortably or they won’t earn enough money to live?
John Strelecky: Someone is living your dream life, it might as well be you. Figure out who that person or people are, learn everything you can about their path to that life, and then start imitating it. They have already proven it’s possible. With time and focused effort, we can move our life from where it is, to where we want it to be.
Mª Luisa de Miguel: Is the purpose only carried out at work, in a professional or occupational activity, or can it be carried out in other ways? Is it possible to reconcile a job not connected with your purpose with other activities that do contribute to fulfilling the purpose outside the professional or work environment?
John Strelecky: Most of us spend a lot of hours per week on our professional activities, so the more that’s aligned with our personal purpose, the more our whole life will feel on purpose. That said, at the start, maybe the money we earn at a job not aligned with our purpose allows us to fund purpose filled adventures or experiences done in our off hours. Ideally, if our purpose is green energy and a healthier planet, and our talent is in the finance industry, why not get paid to fulfill our purpose by doing finance work for a green energy company.
Mª Luisa de Miguel: What are the characteristics and main traits of people who live fulfilling their purpose? How can they be identified?
John Strelecky:They tend to be happy, confident, empathic, and driven. They aren’t shaken by the latest trend of the day, nor do they carry as much stress as other people. They also tend to be doers, not talkers. What I mean by that is they don’t talk and talk about what they plan to do with their life, they just make it happen.
Acerca de John Strelecky.
John Strelecky was born in Chicago in September 1969. After graduating from Florida Aeronautical University, he worked for a year as a pilot. A heart problem prevented him from passing the United Airlines medical tests, which led to a radical change in his life. He earned a BA in Business Administration from the University of Illinois and became a consultant for big business. Shortly after he decided to fulfill one of his big dreams with his girlfriend, now his current wife, he embarked on a long trip around the globe. In 2002 he self-published his first book, “A cafe at the end of the world” which became a success and is considered one of the most inspiring authors in the world. His works have been translated into 42 languages and several of them have been awarded best sellers of the year six times.
We recommend reading his book “A coffee at the end of the world” Duomo Ediciones. It is entertaining, revealing, it makes you reflect on what really matters in life. If someone asked you today if you are satisfied with your life, what would you answer? Ready to find out “why are you here”? Take your time – are you living the best life possible? John, the book’s protagonist, walks into a remote café whose menu offers three questions: Why are you here? Are you afraid of death? Do you feel fulfilled? While looking for the answer, and with the advice of three characters, he reflects on the importance of his own life project. Based on his experience, John Strelecky, considered one of the most inspiring authors today, invites us to join him in this fable. After reading it, you can start a new life.
“An inspiring reflection on the deep meaning of happiness, which teaches us the importance of getting lost in order to find ourselves again”.