In this episode of The Agent of Wealth Podcast, the Bautis Financial team discusses the eighth book assignment in their monthly Book Club, Hero on a Mission: A Path to a Meaningful Life. Some people live stories that are filled with significance and meaning, while others feel as though they’ve lost the plot. In Hero on a Mission, Donald Miller explores the principles that make a story meaningful and then helps us apply those principles to our lives.
In this episode, you will learn:
- The four roles we play in life: the victim, the villain, the hero, the guide.
- How – and why – to write your own eulogy.
- How to cast your long- and short-term visions.
- How to apply Hero on a Mission to your life.
- And more!
This is the eighth episode in the Bautis Financial Book Club series. Listen to the other episodes:
- Episode 75 – Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Episode 76 – The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek
- Episode 88 – Elon Musk – Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
- Episode 100 – Animal Spirits by George Akerlof and Robert Shiller
- Episode 109 – Stacked: Your Super-Serious Guide to Modern Money Management
- Episode 125 – Think Again by Adam Grant
- Episode 132 – How to Get All You Can From Your Money and “Die With Zero”
Disclosure: The transcript below has been lightly edited for clarity and content. It is not a direct transcription of the full conversation, which can be listened to above.
Welcome back to The Agent of Wealth Podcast, this is your host Marc Bautis. On today’s show, I brought on the entire Bautis Financial team – John, Kyra and Kayla – to talk about the book Hero on a Mission: A Path to a Meaningful Life by Donald Miller. This is another book in our Bautis Financial Book Club, and this was recommended for us to read.
I’m going to turn the episode over to John to facilitate the discussion today.
Thanks, Marc. I’ve read a lot of books in this life hack category, but I found this one to be particularly interesting because of the framework Miller puts around building a meaningful life.
The long and the short of it is: Your life is a story that you ultimately have control over – both in the plot and in the direction. And, like every good story, there’s these characters, or “roles,” you can take. All four of these characters are present in almost any story you can think of, but they’re also present in your everyday life.
The Four Roles We Play in Life
Whether we like it or not, the lives we live are stories, and in our own life, we can choose to play one of these four characters:
- The victim: The one who feels like they have no way out. You feel sympathy for the victim.
- The villain: The one who makes others small. You hate the villain.
- The hero: The one willing to face their challenges and transform. You cheer for the hero.
- The guide: The one who helps the hero. You respect the guide.
In the book, Miller says that it’s likely you’ve found yourself playing all four of these roles at some point. You’ve probably found yourself in that victim mentality before, where you feel like nothing is going your way. Or you’re stuck.
Many times, that victim finds themselves figuring out how to become the hero – which is the ultimate goal of this book (to be the hero).
As I continued to read this book and think about this concept, I started seeing these characters in every show, movie, and in real life. It just made a lot of sense.
So that’s kind of the groundwork to this book, but Miller goes into detail for all of these roles and builds on this concept, too.
Marc, as a part of this Hero on a Mission plan, Miller talks about writing your own eulogy and how that kind of fits into this whole picture. I’m going to hand it over to you to talk about that section of the book…
Yeah, like you, I found the book really interesting. I think writing your own eulogy is can be morbid, but it’s an interesting approach to creating a fulfilling life.
But before I get into the eulogy section… One of the things he says is that the hero needs to be interested in their own story. As a hero, you need a reason to get out of bed and sand up to the challenges you’re going to face.
I can really correlate that to what we do as Financial Advisors and Planners. When we work with a client, we always get to know what’s important to them before we make a plan. That’s because what’s important – or what someone is passionate about – is different from person to person.
There are big things and small things. Here are some examples:
- I want to retire early, by the time I’m 50-years-old.
- I want to pay my grandchildren’s way through college.
- I want to start a business.
- I want to spend more time with my children.
These are all long-term goals that define an individual. When someone is eventually on their deathbed, they are the accomplishments that they look back on fondly. As John is known for saying, “No one is on their deathbed wondering why they didn’t beat the S&P 500 Index one year…”
But for some people, defining what’s important to them isn’t easy. Part of it is because when we’re growing up, we learn from our parents or from school that we should do certain things. Whether that be a college education, or a house, or a family… As we get older, we realize that what’s important to us needs to be unique. Redefining those thoughts that have been engraved in our minds can be challenging.
As financial advisors, we see the other side of it too: People who want so many things that they often become paralyzed and can’t make a decision on where to focus.
So before we got into eulogy part of the book, I wanted to highlight the way Miller talks about it. If the hero doesn’t want anything, it’s difficult for them to maintain interest and experience meaning in their life.
How to Write a Eulogy
Now, segueing into the topic of writing a eulogy… In the book, Donald Miller says that living a good story is a lot like writing one. Writing a eulogy, and processing the realty of our own deaths, can make our lives more interesting and more meaningful.
So, he recommends that everyone writes a eulogy just as it would be delivered as part of your funeral.
One of the important points here is that we have to process the fact that we’re not going to live forever. This was an idea that the last book we read, Die With Zero, really hammered home as well.
In Hero on a Mission, Miller says the average American lives to 78 ½ years old, so we’re going to die at some point – and not everyone lives to 100.
If you think about life in that respect (that we have limited time to live our story) writing a eulogy can be a tool we use to get fully engaged in our own life. Because when you write your eulogy, the countdown begins, which creates a sense of urgency to make your story interesting.
When you write your eulogy, think about what people say about you and how they describe you. This includes your kids, your spouse, your friends, your colleagues. What have you accomplished? What have you built? What have you left behind for the people important to you? What have you left behind for humanity?
Your eulogy will evolve with time, so it should be revisited and rewritten as life goes on.
To sum up this part of the book, Miller says that if you chose not to write your eulogy, fate will write it for you – and fate will write whatever it wants.
I think writing your eulogy is an interesting exercise and a unique way of looking at things in terms of how to get from where you are to where you want to be. I liked the way he framed it.
Yeah, thanks Marc. This concept really reminded me of our work with our clients… Sometimes people get so hung up in the details that they lose touch of their ultimate goals. We spend a lot of time talking with our clients about what’s important to them – what will create fufillment and achievement in their lives – and we constantly try to revisit those elements.
I think that writing an eulogy is a great way to stay focused on those things we want to accomplish.
The second part of this is creating this vision… I’m going to hand it over to Kayla to explain how you can cast your short- and long-term visions.
How to Cast Your Long-Term and Short-Term Visions
Sure. Like Marc mentioned, writing your eulogy is an intense experience, but it helps you figure out where you want your story to go. And once you figure that out, the author said that he looks at his eulogy every day and he advises everyone else to do the same thing.
Miller said that looking back on his eulogy every day helps him keep his long-term vision for life in check. But he said you need a roadmap to get you there, for all of the shorter-term goals.
So he says to develop a life plan you need to break down your goals into:
- 10-Year Visions
- Five-year Visions
- One-Year Visions
In the book he uses an example of a 10-Year Vision to “Leave a Legacy.” Miller said it can be hard to figure out what you want to include in your visions, but start by thinking about your community, family, friends and your career. From there, write a list of what you think is important and what you want to accomplish during the alloted time frames.
You’ll want to keep those documents with your eulogy and visit them as well.
Yeah, the short- and long-term visions are really like the action plan for your eulogy. Again, this is very similar to what we do with financial planning – especially the idea of creating a goal reminder and revising those goals.
To summarize, writing your eulogy is the first sort of “assignment” in the Hero on a Mission life plan. The second is creating the short- and long-term visions. Kyra, what are some of the other tools Donald Miller suggests readers use to apply the book to their life?
How to Apply “Hero on a Mission” To Your Life
Hero on a Mission includes tips for practical application throughout the book, but the third and final section of the book is actually a workbook, where you can write:
- Your eulogy.
- Your life plan (ten-year, five-year and one-year visions).
- Fill out your goal-setting worksheets.
- Fill out your daily planner page.
Donald Miller suggests that these four steps are repeated every day as a “morning ritual.” Once you’ve filled out the first three (eulogy, life plans & goal worksheets) you read those as a daily reminder and then fill out the planner section.
The Hero on a Mission daily planner is also available online at heroonamission.com.
The daily planner has a section for primary tasks, secondary tasks and appointments. It also provides space for you to list out the things you’re grateful for everyday. Miller wrote, “Taking the time each morning to write down what we are grateful for creates a strong mental foundation for the rest of the day.” It also fends off the victim and villain mentalities:
- Victims aren’t grateful because they are being mistreated, tortured, captured or controlled.
- Villains aren’t grateful either, they’re plotting for revenge or embarking in hatred.
So the gratitude prompt helps us remember our role as a hero in our own stories.
And finally, there is a section that asks, “If you could live this day again, what would you do differently this time?” This is the space that you use to reflect on what we can do to make fewer mistakes on a given day. The question ties back to something Viktor Frankl used to tell his patients: “Live as if you were living a second time, and as though you had acted wrongly the first time.”
In an excerpt from the book, Miller wrote:
“If, every morning, we pretended today were the second time we got to live this day and we could learn from the mistakes we made the first time, we’d have much more clarity on things such as the time we wasted, the relational neglect we committed, and the financial mistakes we made.”
I like this part of the daily planner the most because it requires us to pause, reflect and then take action to make better decisions every day. Those decisions will then add up to a better life.
Yeah, I feel like tying your daily activities into the big picture is super important. I see a lot of value in that.
I have to admit, when I started reading this book, I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of living your life as a hero. It seemed a little cliche. But as I kept reading, it clicked.
So for our listeners, we recommend picking up a copy of this book or listening to the audiobook, because the overall message here is really powerful. Plus, I think it’s just a really neat way to position your mindset if you’re somebody who does feel like you’re in that victim mentality. You really can reframe your life and become a hero through these actionable steps.
And eventually, Miller talks about becoming a guide.
So, with that said, I’ll hand it over to Marc.
Thanks, John, Kyra and Kayla. And thanks to everyone who tuned into today’s episode.
If anyone has a suggestion for another book for us to read and review, please send it to us. And if you have a questions or need help implementing something we discussed today, you can set up a free consultation with us below.