When the smoke smell of Dave Hollis’ birthday candles dissipated and everyone went back to their normal routines, Hollis couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that stuck around.
Hollis had what most would consider a dream job, plus a wonderful wife and great kids. What more could a man want? Still, he couldn’t shake the questions that were rolling around in his head. Was he living up to his potential? Was this really all there was to life? Did he have more to offer?
In their honest and engaging conversation, Hollis told Jay Shetty on an episode of On Purpose with Jay Shetty that these questions and more began to haunt him.
“Why do I have this gift, this potential from God that isn’t fully being exploited?” he said to Jay Shetty, “and if I spent the next 20 years stuck here in my way, not fully using these gifts, will I have regret? Will my kids sitting around a table at my 60th birthday have something to toast? Will I have died not having done the things that I was put on this planet to do?”
The tattoo on Hollis’ arm says, “A ship is safest in harbor, but that is not what ships are made for.” Hollis uses this as his life motto. The author, CEO, and entrepreneur shared with Jay Shetty how his journey to finding his true self meant cutting through lies, breaking molds and embarking on the most empowering adventure of his life.
Leaving the Magic Behind
As someone who spent most of his adult life working at Disney, Dave Hollis knew a thing or two about adventure. Although he spent every waking minute selling the thrill, he confessed to Jay Shetty that he wasn’t living it.
Hollis’ upbringing was marked by health and success. To the outside eye, his comfortable job and happy family was the ideal, and he never rocked the boat too much. He found himself longing for more.
Meanwhile, his wife had begun pursuing new things she was wildly passionate about, and he felt conflicted. Her passion ruffled feathers, not only in their marriage, but also on a personal level for Hollis. He didn’t know what lay outside the safe confines of his job at Disney, and he didn’t understand why he felt unfulfilled.
“My unfulfillment was a signal of not being in a posture to grow,” he admitted to Jay Shetty. He felt frozen and frustrated. Eventually he discovered that someone else wasn’t going to create an opportunity for him to grow. He was going to have to take action to create growth himself. This proved to be easier said than done.
Happy Wife, Happy Life?
Dave Hollis’ unhappiness began to affect his marriage. Instead of supporting and rooting for his wife in her newfound purpose, he found himself resenting it. Although he struggled at first, she was the one who paved the way for him to step out of the mindset that had held him back his entire life. It was a slow and painful process that almost cost him his marriage..
“Rachel was trying to find ways to solve some of the things that were getting in her way, anxiety being a big thing,” he explained to Jay Shetty. She began to pursue self-education through books, podcasts, and personal development conferences, to understand why she was suffering and how she could help herself. Hollis wasn’t buying it.
“I was like, well, that’s hocus pocus,” he told Jay Shetty. “That’s snake oil. That’s crazy. And if you go into these environments and accept their Kool-Aid, well, I just think that you’re being scammed.” But what he was doing wasn’t working, and the more he saw how she was growing, the more frustrated he felt.
“She was so able to reach for more,” he told Jay Shetty. “As she got up at five in the morning to jump start her day, I’d roll over and make a grunt of disapproval of her wanting to live her best life as I was truly descending into a version of my worst. She was whole, just on fire for life, full of passion, motivation burning inside of her, and I was stuck.”
It was the distance growing between him and his wife that finally convinced him to give her way a try. He started with therapy, and as he sat on the therapist’s couch, he started to unravel questions he’d long asked himself, like why he believed the things he believed. Step by step, Hollis put more and more self-development tools to work in his life, but at first it wasn’t easy.
“I truly had skepticism about the tools that I now use every single day to fully unlock the things in my life,” he told Jay Shetty. “I saw them as only being reserved for people who are broken. I thought if you needed to use the tools of development, of growth, that it somehow indicted you for not being whole, enough, or worthy. Of course now, I think completely differently.”
Accidental Author, Purposeful Truth-Teller
Hollis didn’t set out to write a book. His wife has always been the author of the family. Initially, his personal development was just that…personal.
The more he unpacked his own life’s baggage and heard from others, however, the more clear the themes became for Hollis. Again and again, he heard from people who were mired down by a similar struggle of limiting thoughts and beliefs that led to a lack of confidence and the hesitation to pursue self development. Knowing he was not alone motivated Hollis to do something with this information.
“The book really, truly ends up being these 20 lies that I believe, at one time or another had me in my own way,” Hollis explained to Jay Shetty. “In shining the light of truth on them, it made them unbelievable in their believability, and it kept me out of my own way.”
Lie #1: “I Have to Have it All Together”
“What area of your life felt most like you had to have it all together?” asked Jay Shetty. “Where did you think ‘I really need to embrace that?’”
For Hollis, it was the lie that he always had to have it all together. It was the first lie he dealt with, and the most difficult to overcome. He came to realize that his striving to have it all together was coming at the expense of relationships and authentic connection with people.
“I could not connect to anyone else who was struggling,” he told Jay Shetty. “I couldn’t normalize the fact that it was not me being broken, but a totally normal human condition to struggle. And secondarily, it kept me from getting help.”
Stepping out from behind that mask was scary, but eventually he found power and strength in living out who he truly was, not a false version of himself.
Lie #2: “A Drink Will Make This Better”
Common belief says it is perfectly acceptable to use alcohol as a means of relaxation, enjoyment, and calm. As Hollis put to work the growth and development tools he’d discovered, he found himself less and less comfortable with this practice. Using alcohol to numb the most raw parts of his day was keeping him from growing. He started thinking about it in a different way.
“I am the ship, I was built for this,” became his new mantra. “I made this decision to leave the harbor. I’m now chasing the growth the waves will create. You don’t get the growth when you’re muting the benefit that would have come from those waves.”
Setting down the bottle allowed space for Hollis to pick up something else. He laced up running shoes and started putting on miles. Running became his new outlet.
“It’s a productive way of processing the fear, the anxiety, and the insecurity that comes up in a way that still affords me the opportunity to show up well for my team, my wife, my kids,” Hollis explained to Jay Shetty. “It allows me, as I lay my head on the pillow at night, alone with my own thoughts, to have pride for how I’ve taken control of a thing that previously was controlling me.”
Lie #3: “I Have to Be Right All The Time”
The cutthroat world of business taught Dave Hollis to view his way as THE way. While that worked in the corporate world, he came to learn that in his personal life, insisting that he was always right was a battle that typically did more harm than good.
“Being right all the time makes you an ass,” he told Jay Shetty. “There are times when absolutely you ought to yield.” Hollis believes choosing to keep the end goal in mind helps one pick their battles carefully.
“The sign of maturity is having some objectivity for the sliding scale of which things really matter and which things you can bite your tongue on,” he told Jay Shetty. Valuing relationship over rightness has become a foundational way of operating for Hollis, and it has reaped rewards.
“Instead of fighting we have really hard conversations all the time, so that nothing is ever unsaid,” he said. “It’s a fundamental change from who we were. But it’s produced an unbelievably healthier version of who we are.”
Shetty also acknowledges that it can be difficult drawing a line of certainty when interacting with someone who did not grow up in the same experience as you.
“In different parts of the world, their values are totally different,” Jay Shetty said. “And you realize your version of right is just what you had when you grew up.”
“Fight for the things that actually matter,” Hollis agreed. “And then you’ll do the things that will afford you to still like each other as much as you love each other.”
Hollis dishes out a word of encouragement for anyone just starting out on the journey of self discovery.
“Take the experiences that you’ve been through and own them,” he told Jay Shetty’s viewers and listeners. “You survived them, you are stronger for them, and you learned because of them. It takes the shame and the pain, and the stuff that would otherwise keep you from believing that you are capable of chasing whatever that thing is, and turns it into the reason why you are uniquely qualified to chase it.”
Hollis heartily advocates for strapping on running shoes to do that chasing, but footwear choice is not as important as taking the first step.
More From Jay Shetty & Dave Hollis
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “How To Stop Listening To People’s Opinions & Writing Your Own Story” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, follow Jay Shetty on LinkedIn.