Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Three Things I Know to Be True

“No matter how wide you stretch your fingers your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you want to heal.” —Sarah Kay

There are three things I know to be true. Three very important things:

ONE: I was created for a purpose

And so were you.

Life is not meaningless.

We are not evolved from star soup. Or monkeys. At least, I don’t think so.

Purpose Photo

Photo credit: Nicola Romagna

We are special and exceptional. Mighty and magical.

We live in a universe full of mystery and meaning. And it was intended to be that way.

We are more than we realize, but still tragically flawed. So there is plenty of room for humility and failure. Plenty of space to learn and grow — to become.

And I hope we do — that we discover our innate dignity, our inherent glory. And somehow, miraculously, see it in others.

TWO: The world has not seen what great art can do

Not yet.

I believe words matter and imagination illuminates. That beauty can heal a shattered soul.

Art Photo

Photo credit: Nicola Romagna (Creative Commons)

We need more life and love in this world. And less lies and lawyers.

No offense to lawyers; I just want to see more paintings and books and less arguments and angry people.

The world needs more art — to be refreshed and rejuvenated.

We need this more than we comprehend.

We need more poetry and less prose, more art and less advertising.

We need life. We need friends. We need sunsets and spaceships, long walks and late nights. We need to sleep in and day-dream, to eat pancakes for supper.

We need to find that child-like part of ourselves we lost so long ago.

When we do, there will be no end to what we can accomplish. With God’s help, we will become what we were meant to be, to live the lives we long for.

THREE: We are all broken

But that doesn’t excuse inaction.

Everyone has pain. Everybody hurts. I’m not quite sure I will ever understand why.

Broken People Photo

Photo credit: Nicola Romagna (Creative Commons)

And that’s okay.

But I still need to act. I still need to move — and be moved. I need to enter the stories of my neighbors and friends, even those of my enemies.

I need to embrace compassion and suffer with — to bear others’ burdens and carry their loads.

And so do you.

We cannot live for ourselves. This will not satisfy. It will leave us — and the world — feeling empty and hollow inside.

We were made for one another — not strip malls and sitcoms, but real and raw community. Beautifully broken relationships: this is what will heal us.

If we are willing. To be moved, to be touched. To engage the broken ball of bruised humanity we call ourselves. If we will do this, we will come alive and find our true selves. It will be beautiful and ugly — all at the same time.

These are three things I know to be true. They are only three. There are, of course, others. But these are enough for me. Enough to do something that matters today.

I hope I do.

What are your three things?

I just listened to this beautiful poem from Sarah Kay and immediately bought it on Amazon. Through the rest of the Ted Talk, Kay asks her audience, “What are three things that you know to be true?”

This post was inspired by that question.

I encourage you to write your own “three things” post. Heck, share it on Twitter with #threethings, so we can see what others are saying. Leave a comment here with a link. Post it on Facebook.

Because we all need to believe.

Here’s the video of Sarah Kay’s Ted Talk:

Can’t see this in your RSS reader or email? Click here.

What three things do you know to be true? Share in the comments.

*Photo credit: Nicola Romagna (Creative Commons)

About Jeff Goins

I help people tell better stories and make a difference in the world. My family and I live outside of Nashville, TN. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. To get updates and free stuff, join my newsletter.

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  • Enb159

    Three things I know.

    I know I have not yet fulfilled all my potential so I will keep on looking for ways to do just that.I know that God is not finished with me yet as there is so much in me that needs to conform to His image
    I know that my wife and daughters are simply the most important people in my life and they will both help me reach my potential and be a channel of the change that God is working in me day by day

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      beautiful

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    I think the beauty of your point on changing the world is that we do this one life at a time. It’s not just about what we need or what the world needs. It’s about what that guy down the street needs. What our coworker who just had a divorce needs. What that teenager getting beat up needs. What the family struggling to make ends meet needs.
    It’s a bold aspiration to seek to change the world with your art – but real joy comes when we see our work as not just a drop in a bucket but as the force making change in our small corner of the world.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      i like that, loren.

  • http://joebunting.com Joe Bunting

    This is beautiful, Jeff.

    We need more art and less advertising.

    • Lia London

      Yes, Joe!  Advertising may “get stuff out there” to be seen, but when art–or in this case, testimony–comes along, it can be FELT.  That will make a much more lasting impact on our lives.

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

        despite all my encouragement that writers care about marketing, I have to agree with this. in the end, i’m an artist, not an advertiser.

  • Valkryie27

    I think this is quite possibly the best blog you have written.Today I will write my ” three things.”

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      thanks!

  • Marie Sardalla-Davis

    We soar with every post you send out to us, Jeff.

    The hair on the back of my neck is rising as I listen to Sarah right now.
    What a great way to start Wednesday! I’m sharing it on FB.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      that happens every time i listen to it. i’m down to once a day.

  • http://www.theselfempoweredinvestor.com Tim Butt

    Great truth challenge. Here are 3 things I know to be true:
    1) We all own our power of choice.
    2) We all have the ability to freely exercise our power of choice in pursuit of our life’s purpose.
    3) Once we discover our God given purpose in life, we should passionately live it, share it and reflect it…in all we do.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      thanks, Tim

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    Nobody’s saying we evolved from monkeys, but that monkeys and us evolved from a common ancestor. All you have to do is look at a monkey to see we’re obviously very related. So what? You don’t like monkeys?

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I hate them. Now, chimps on the other hand…

      • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

        Star soup and chimp brains. Supper for champions.

        • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

          mmmm…

  • Cindy Keen Reynders

    Great post, Jeff. Your insights always make me think deeper.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      thanks

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    Beautiful post Jeff.

    Three things I know:

    1. I know that my potential is unimaginable. I was created in the image of a loving and awesome God. He says I was created to great things and I know that to be true.

    2. I know that we need each other. We may try to fight it and say we don’t but we do. We were not meant to be alone.

    3. I know that life is better than we think it is. We often feel like we get the short end of the stick. It’s not true. There is typically someone who has it worse than you.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      love these!

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ The JackB

    Three things I know for certain:

    1) I love my family.
    2) My family loves me.
    3) I am responsible for my success and failure in life.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      good ones. simple, but good.

      • http://www.thejackb.com/ The JackB

        Hi Jeff. Well I have found that life is a lot easier and far more enjoyable when I keep it simple.
        I could write 10k words and create a beautiful essay but it would still focus on those three things. Simple writing also seems to do a better job of building bridges between people.

        What do you think?

        • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

          totally agree.

  • Lia London

    I know that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me so much He sent His Son to live, teach, suffer, die and then live again for me.

    I know that the greatest happiness in life comes from living in accordance with the Word of God, regardless of what my personal interests or ambitions are.

    I know that God has given me gifts to grow and use for the benefit of others, and that those around me are likewise endowed–so we have to come together to bless each other.

  • Pingback: 0154: Three Things I Know to be True | Laura McClellan

  • http://lauramcclellan.com Laura McClellan

    For some reason, this post only took me about 30 minutes to write and edit, so I went ahead and published it. Loved your thoughts.

    http://lauramcclellan.com/2011/12/0154-three-things-i-know-to-be-true/ 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      great post, Laura!

  • Pingback: » Three Things I Know To Be True Patches of Sunlight

  • http://www.nginaotiende.blogspot.com Ngina Otiende

    Great post Jeff!

    I like it a lot because I just wrote a blog post on something similar – about my most important life lessons in the last 30+ years of my life!

    Here is the link http://nginaotiende.blogspot.com/2011/12/23-life-lessons-i-have-learnt-from-30.html

    Just to pick three of them; (they are 23)

    1. Working on my strengths is better than focusing on my weaknesses
    2. The best way to correct is to appreciate first
    3. You will not always feel powerful (but that doesn’t mean you are not)

    Thanks for always encouraging us to be better!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Wow!

  • http://thisblankpage.com Timothy Snyder

    I strongly believe there is no better or more beautiful way to describe the “human condition” than to say we are broken.  It says that we were meant to be whole, but something went wrong.  It explains why everyone is out there looking for a fix because in all truth, we need to be fixed.

    Fantastic list.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      thanks. agreed.

  • http://colebradburn.com Cole Bradburn

    What I’ve learned up to this point:
    1. Be yourself (create for yourself), and let others see Christ in you through your actions.
    2. Live for ideals, but do so with love, forgiveness, and grace. 
    3. Be uncompromisingly honest, but delivered with the sincerest of intentions.

    And a Bonus:
    Brighten other’s day, but don’t let them dictate my day, happiness, or self-worth.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      I like #3. hard but good.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dwhittacre David Whittacre

    When I meet people who seem to know the world personally, or to know people who say they know nothing, I stand in amazment in front of both kinds of people.  Of course I know that either position is ludicrous.  We all know some things, but not everything and not anything.  When I cross paths with people who puzzle me, I am in awe because I have met some one who is right with life.  In my personal life, I am puzzled too, but I’ve lived like this for 61 years, and not “knowing” has always bothered me.  I sound like a bell tinkling in the wind, with different pitches, different highs and lows, different volumes.  It is as if I know nothing, being unable to decide.  Yes, I’m a tinkling bell. I know I will never get everything right: I’ll just continue to tinkle in the wind.  Some will be perplexed, some will be delighted that I sound as the wind blows me, but no one will ever think that I will know everything or nothing. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      so you know that you don’t know? :)

  • http://www.dberruti.blogspot.com Deb.

    Beautiful post.  I loved number three.  

    Thanks.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      thanks. and you’re welcome. :)

  • Anonymous

    Yes and yes and yes. Thank you for digging down deep and writing this. And thank you for sharing this with us. I’m going to think about my three things… Think hard on that. Although two of my three might be a version of yours.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      can’t wait to hear them, Mandy!

  • http://www.linchpinbloggers.com/ Don McAllister

    Excellent post. 

    Here’s three I quickly thought of:
    1) Put God first and foremost is of utmost importance.
    2) We were created to create – there’s this symbiotic relationship we have with it. 
    3) We were created to love.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      good ones

  • http://sagoyism.com Josh Sarz

    Nice post, Jeff.  I love this part the most, 

    We need to find that child-like part of ourselves we lost so long ago.
    When I grew up I noticed I became colder to others, not in an aloof way, but in terms of appreciating the presence of people around me.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      thanks. i experienced the same.

  • http://godtreasure.blogspot.com Dorci

    1. This life is not all there is.
    2. God loves me.
    3. I am safe.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Ooh. #3 is really good and profound.

  • http://enreachinglives.blogspot.com/ jamie

    I heard Sarah Kay on Ted earlier this year and I loved her.

    One thing I know to be true is that God loves me and you and the world too.

    Jeff, I’m starting a new blog with a mission of en(reach)ing lives wirelessly. Your thoughts and comments would be very much appreciated. Thank you very much for taking time out of your business schedule for this.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      my pleasure. sounds like a cool idea.

  • http://twitter.com/itsmissmacy Macy Yap

    I need this right now. Thank you for writing something as beautiful and inspiring as this. We are all broken, yes.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      you’re welcome.

  • http://www.yTravelBlog.com/ yTravelBlog

    Beautiful post Jeff. I love how you have stated a truth being that we are all broken. So many people spend their lives trying to mask this fact, mask it in destructive ways. If we can only admit it openly, knowing it is okay, because we all are this way, can we work on healing and concentrate on savouring the joys

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      indeed!

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com Alan Kay

    Lovely post – as ever.
    My three things:
    1. Everyone is unique. My uniqueness is apparent to people who know me. It’s my job to be conscious of that uniqueness and to constantly improve it in ways that work for them
    2. Help people notice in a world full of largely perceived problems that more is working than not and that by defining what we want to be different (from the problem), we can take small steps towards the world we want 
    3. My complicated early life was also joyful, full of wonderful experiences and great people

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      love those, Alan

  • Lesa Engelthaler

    Keys TED Talk is one of my favorites! Watch it NOW. she got two standing ovations, amazing and chilling. thanks jeff for reminding us and your three things. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      indeed. you’re welcome.

  • Anonymous

    Jeff, 

    You say in #3, “If we are willing. To be moved, to be touched. To engage….”

    If we are willing … if we are willing. I’m working on willing. 

    But sometimes there’s a wall between me and willing.

    Your insightful post and Sarah’s incredible talk has shed bright light on this: why am I afraid to be willing?

    What do I fear about the act of sharing more of myself? When I’m unwilling, what do I let others not see/learn/connect with? And why? What intersections are missed?

    I think you answer this underlying insecurity with the heading: We Are All Broken. It’s through recognition of this human condition that helps to move the hands from self-protection … to open and receptive.

    But being willing to share our brokenness–even as described through this simple, symbolic motion–sometimes can be so … daunting.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      yeah. I agree. thanks for your honesty, Garry.

  • http://dramaticelegance.blogspot.com/ Rachel

    http://dramaticelegance.blogspot.com/2011/12/three-things-spoken-word.html
    this is my three things. 

    this gripped my soul, Jeff. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      loved yours, Rachel

  • http://somewiseguy.com ThatGuyKC

    What a beautiful post. Thank you.

    I saw this video via TED a few months ago and it blew me away. So powerful. I went ahead and bought the book on Amazon.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      my pleasure

  • http://www.handmadejewerlynews.com crystal kneller

    Hi Jeff,  I am new here and was inspired by this post.  Here are my three things.

    http://www.handmadejewelrynews.com/2011/12/12/three-things-i-know-be-true/

    Have a great week!
    crystal
    #threethings

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      awesome!

  • http://uppside.blogspot.com/ susan upp

    This post is poetry Jeff.  Just beautiful.
    I would read a book about your three things. It feels like you probably have even more to say on each point and I’d love to hear it.

    I will think about my three things.
    But if it’s ok, I will share something your post reminded me of: What I long for: http://uppside.blogspot.com/2011_07_01_archive.html

  • Ebony

    Thank you for such a lovely post! I really enjoy seeing how ideas spread, especially when we can encourage each other to look for the good in our lives. 

  • Pilar Arsenec

     This was absolutely wonderful!!  Thank you!!

  • Tess

    What a firebrand!  Spoken Word Poetry by Sarah Kay on Ted Talk has to be the 2nd most {you are 1st of course}  inspiring speaker/artist/poet/eye-opener  and most awesome and honest  life-changer I have heard/read this year.

     Where does someone so young acquire that wisdom?  From writing her poems that bare her soul which she shares with us, just as you do Jeff.

    Between the two of you, you are creating and inspiring millions of emerging artists, writers, and thinkers. A BIG THANK YOU.

    I love your posts.  My three things I know to be true:

    1.    That I can and will be a great writer, as I write how I honestly feel, and love what I
            do.

    2.    That with your advice, and shared knowledge, I am inspired to do my very best
            and learn all I can to be as good an artist/writer like yourself.

    3.   That there is a God, who led me to your site, and I thank him daily.

  • Silvie

    I have watched Sarah Kay today. It flipped me over. I have to do this speech in English class, about anything, before seeing Kay’s speech, I was going to talk about something as fancy as Kitty Genovese syndrome. I have changed my mind and chose to speak about speech and why is it important to learn to express ourselves and thank you do much with your beautiful post :)
    – Silvija Step. / A weirdo foreigner in London

  • http://www.frivmini.com/ friv

    me gusta. Artículo muy impresionante. He leído todas y cada punto y me pareció muy interesante.

  • merna94

    Recently I was really, really low on cash and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money on the internet! I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills!! I’m so glad, I did this!! – skkq