About Me — Gregory Russell Benedikt
Accruing incremental wisdom as I implement my flawed plan
As a young child, I believed in magic. I believed that one day my teacher would reveal himself to me and show me that I too, was a wizard. He would teach me to harness and hone my abilities, and to use my magical powers to change the world. I was 100% sure that this would happen because as I looked around at how the adults were living, I knew that there had to be more to life.
Years went by and my teacher still hadn’t revealed himself, yet I couldn’t shake the feeling that there had to be more. As I looked at how most people were living their lives, I refused to accept that this is how life was supposed to be. I saw people selling their time and health in order to make money. They were wildly unhappy and were choosing a lifestyle based solely on how much money it paid them.
I saw empty human shells going through the motions — like automated robots — working jobs that they hated in order to buy expensive stuff. Stuff they didn’t even need, in an attempt to impress people that they didn’t even like.
I quickly realized that I was not the first person to think this way, and I stumbled across two quotes that conveyed exact observations:
“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like.”
— Will Rogers
“Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices his money to recuperate health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
— James Lachard
A leap of faith
After 25 years of waiting for my teacher, I decided he wasn’t coming. Instead, I realized that he had been here the whole time. Inside of me. He was the voice inside my head that had been whispering: it doesn’t have to be like this.
Year after year he had been gently encouraging me to follow my dreams no matter what other people would think of me. He was the voice persuading me to reject normality in exchange for a life full of adventure, fulfillment, and magic.
The persuasion took a while, however. I first had to endure a hilariously miserable stint as an internal auditor and two existential life crises, which for a 25-year-old, seemed like a few too many.
It took a global pandemic to motivate me to finally heed that inner voice. In June of 2020, I quit what I had previously thought was my dream job. I was working at a Private Equity Real Estate Investment Firm and I apologize for the six-word company description but my ego made me say it.
I left without a clue of what I was going to do next. I will never forget the phone call with my dad where I told him that “50% of my plan was to have no plan.”
Let’s just say he wasn’t too keen on that strategy.
I had always been a careful, analytical, risk-averse person so he couldn’t understand how I was so sure everything would be okay. To be honest, I couldn’t explain it either but I had this deep knowing. I knew that if I had the courage to plunge myself into the unknown, something great would happen.
Thank god I was right.
After I had told my company I was leaving, and before I had my last day, I was serendipitously introduced to a man named Tim. I met Tim through a stranger on the internet who reached out because she saw (through my writing) that Tim and I had extremely similar life missions.
To make a long story short, Tim and I ended up hitting it off and we spent a year and a half working together building a non-profit called The Enjoyable Pain of Growth Academy.
Our mission was to make personal development part of education and we did that by pairing underserved high school students with professional leadership coaches. We also designed an online personal development program that students would work through in tandem with their coaching.
Building EPOG Academy with Tim was the most challenging and exciting chapter of my life thus far. We raised over $110K together and our program significantly improved the lives of the students we were working with.
Three of the most valuable lessons I learned from my time building EPOG Academy were:
- The corporate world made me an excellent employee but an atrocious boss. I was great at following instructions but terrible at solving problems on my own. Building a company forced me to become great at solving problems, as each day consisted of completing tasks I’d never done before.
- Life is unpredictable and you never know what will happen next. I met Tim through a stranger on the internet and ended up having one of the best experiences of my life. No amount of planning or forecasting would have ever been able to predict the random introduction and subsequent flourishing.
- You will surprise yourself with what is possible if you have the courage to ask for it. Never be scared to reach out to someone further along in their life’s work than you. Ask for what you want; The worst that can happen is nothing at all.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage” — Anais Nin
Heeding the call to adventure
I left EPOG Academy to relentlessly pursue coaching, writing, and podcasting full-time. Viktor Frankl has a passage in his book Man’s Search For Meaning that says:
Don’t aim at success — the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run — in the long run, I say! — success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it.”
When I first read this passage, I felt like the words I bolded above reached out from the page and slapped me in the face.
My conscience was telling me that I needed to focus on helping others realize their potential through coaching, writing, and podcasting. At the time though, I wasn’t ready to listen. I tried to put my head down and grind it out on the path I was currently walking and sadly, I started to resent the non-profit.
This is when I learned another valuable lesson.
I believe that we are guided by an intelligence greater than our own, and if we try to ignore what our conscience is commanding us to do, we will be miserable.
The fact that some activities bring us immense joy whereas others feel like trudging through quicksand is not an accident. It’s our innate compass attempting to guide us toward what we are supposed to be working on and aiming at throughout our lives.
Finding what makes me come alive
I slowly started to notice that I felt more alive during my coaching calls than ever before. I would literally end most calls by jumping out of my chair and dancing around my room.
I felt like I was truly helping people. I felt more connected to my life’s purpose than ever before. These same feelings of being in a complete flow state started happening whenever I was either writing or podcasting.
I had started a podcast called The Dare to Dream Podcast with one of my best friends Vincent Van Patten, and we were using it to document both of our journeys into the unknown. I felt like I was finally starting to live a story worth telling.
Staying up late to edit either an article or an episode didn’t feel like work. Instead, it felt like I was playing. I slowly began to wonder if I could focus all of my time and effort on doing the tasks that brought me immense joy.
At first, I felt too embarrassed to even consider the thought. Did I deserve to be ridiculously and unbelievably happy? Was I good enough to live the life I had always dreamed of?
It took longer than I’d like to admit but I am finally able to answer those questions with a resounding yes! I stopped fighting what my conscience is commanding me to do and now I feel more alive than I ever have before.
Choose what is worth struggling for
I feel as if I must add a qualifier. What I am not saying is that we should only do activities that are easy and bring us joy. There are huge hurdles I am facing as a 27-year-old life coach and a whole laundry list of tasks that I am terrified to undertake.
Additionally, there is immense value in seeking discomfort and challenging yourself on a daily basis. The most important thing, however, is to make sure that the challenges you are facing are for a cause that you are willing to struggle for.
I have become passionate about overcoming resistance and removing my inner obstacles only because my desire to help other people is stronger than my fear. I am willing to devote the time necessary to become a great coach, writer, and podcast host because these activities are intrinsically rewarding for me.
Our conscience will lead us to where we are supposed to focus our efforts, but it’s not supposed to be easy. I was flying back from Phoenix in 2018 when I sat next to a Polish man on my flight who said it best:
“Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” — Jerzy Gregorek
The only thing I would add is: make sure that the hard choices you are making are helping you create the life you’ve always dreamed about.
My purpose and mission
This is my story and it has been everything except smooth. There have been countless lows in which I found myself deep in the pits of darkness and despair. What keeps me going is my insatiable curiosity and my burning desire to become the best version of myself. I love learning about fitness, nutrition, mindfulness, mediation, neuroscience, holistic health, and human potential.
My purpose in life is to challenge people to live a story worth telling. I am here to poke, prod, support, and encourage people to live their dream life and not waste it burdened by others’ expectations of how they should be living. It’s not about performing for someone else’s definition of “worth”. It’s about living the story you’ll be proud of when you’re old and wrinkled and look like a raisin. My mission is to help millennials banish the Sunday Scaries by finding more meaning and excitement in their lives. The two of these combine to form my reason for being and what gets me out of bed in the morning.
My biggest fear used to be that I would never have the courage to live the life I had always dreamed of. I was terrified I would wake up one day and realize that somehow, somewhere, I had settled for a life that didn’t excite me.
I’ve now decided that it’s better to dream big and fail miserably than to have never tried at all. I’ve committed my life to chasing my highest potential to make sure that when I die, I’ve left nothing on the table.
And I’d love to help you do the same.
If you’re ready to live a story worth telling, I’m ready to be your coach. Book a discovery call today and let’s get started!