INTERVIEW W JON ACUFF: AUTHOR OF QUITTER
Posted by Mike Foster:
I had the chance the interview my friend Jon Acuff from Stuff Christians Like about his new book Quitter. It is an incredible read about how to pursue your dream and the realities that we all face. Quitter is profound in its honesty and is a great tool for all of us who want to make a difference in the world.
Below is the interview I did with Jon:
1. What compelled you to write Quitter? Why this message at this time?
In 2008 I started writing a blog called stuffchristianslike.net. As that project started to gain momentum I started to get fun opportunities like writing a book and speaking at conferences around the country. I loved doing that and felt like I had bumped into something I was designed to do. But I started to feel caught between the tension of my day job and my dream job because I’d spend an hour doing what I love and then 40 hours at a day job that had nothing to do with it. I had a hard time living in those two different worlds. At first I thought I was the only one until I started to talk to people and realized we’re becoming the “I’m but” generation. When I ask people of all ages and walks of life what they do, they inevitably tell me, “I’m a teacher, but I want to be an artist.” “I’m a stay at home mom, but I want to start my own business.” “I’m a barista, but I’d love to start a non-profit.” I wrote the book for people who feel called to something but don’t know how to get there.
2. What do you see as the biggest lie about pursuing your dream?
There are a million lies that get loud when you pursue your dream, but one of them is that it should happen quickly. Impatience kills more dreams than failure. We want our dream to come true right this second and when it doesn’t we get discouraged and give up. And every dream takes the same amount of time, longer than we want. Dreams take so much more patience than we’re willing to give them most times. The lie is that patience is a punishment to a dream, but it’s not. It’s a gift.
3. You are taking chances and risking a lot in your own pursuit. What scares you the most about pursuing your dream?
Honestly? The opinion of other people. Often I really struggle with worrying what other people will think of me. What if I fail and people say, “He made a mistake doing things the way he did.” I often create fictional conversations in my head about how other people are interpreting my missteps. A counselor and friend of mine named Al Andrews challenged me on that. He said that in addition to wrestling with my own voices of doubt, when I assumed other people were negative about me, I was making up voices of doubt for them too. What an exhausted, tangled mess of fear and anxiety that is. So that’s something I’m working on right now, the commitment to spend more time controlling my own thoughts instead of trying to mind read the thoughts of other people.
4. How should your family factor into the equation of quitting?
The worst place you can put your spouse is on the opposite side of your dream because the harder you lean into the dream the further you’ll push them away. You get to this really toxic place where you interpret their feedback as an attack and end up saying things like, “Don’t you want me to dream? Why are you so against what I was created to do?” You’ve got to build support with in your family. That’s not to say that a spouse will feel exactly the same way about your dream as you will. If they did, it wouldn’t be your dream, it would be theirs. But it’s possible and critical to get your spouse on board.
5. What are the top things you constantly have to remind yourself on your own journey?
Be patient. The decisions you make today are not forever, they’re for today. Don’t value the criticism of anonymous strangers over the compliments of close friends. Being over your head is exactly where you should be when you start something new. Safe adventures make for really boring stories.
6. Speaking of recent "quitters," should Oprah read your book? And could America been saved from the NBC show The Marriage Ref if Jerry Seinfeld had read your book?
I wish Oprah would read my book and then put it on her book club and buy a warehouse full of them. In that order. I completely forgot The Marriage Ref. I wish I could have heard the pitch meeting for that concept. Fortunately I’ve got the entire Seinfeld series on DVD so anytime I remember The Marriage Ref I can go back and watch The Hamptons episode. That is without a doubt the best Seinfeld episode of all time. There can be no argument on that point.