How Positivity Helps You Find Your Purpose: Jon Gordon

Many of us want to find our purpose in life. We want to know that what we’re doing ultimately matters. We want to leave our mark on the world. But how do we do this? The process is not always so simple.

The Power of Finding Your Unique Calling

One man who has found his unique calling is Jon Gordon, a best-selling author, well-known keynote speaker, and influential voice in the leadership and motivation space.

Jon is also one of the most positive people I know! But his journey wasn’t always so positive. It was a difficult period in his work life and marriage that led him to find his purpose and cultivate a positive approach to life.

After graduating from Cornell University, Jon pursued a graduate degree in teaching and he opened a bar with some fellow investors and an inheritance from his grandma. He also started a non-profit when the bar began doing well. His real passion came through, though, when he decided to go into politics.

Jon ran for city council and was gaining support and leading in the polls. Because he was doing so well, his incumbent opponent began a smear campaign. He was only 26 at the time, so there wasn’t much to smear. His opponent lied, and he lost.

Devastated and confused, Jon was at a loss as to what to do next. He went to law school for a little while, then left to pursue a dot-com business with some friends. Then he discovered they were stealing from him, so he moved on from that, as well. Despite his earlier successes, he was left wondering what to pursue next.

This lack of direction made John miserable, which led to his wife also feeling miserable. They were fighting a lot, and she told him she was ready to leave because she couldn’t deal with his unhappiness. He begged her to stay and agreed to change. It was then that Jon began to research ways to become more positive, and discovered the emerging field of positive psychology.

Jon started taking gratitude walks every day, and it was during one of these walks while he was praying that he asked God to show him why he was here on earth.

Writing and speaking immediately came to mind.

On this episode of The Portfolio Life, Jon tells us what happened next and why his early days as a writer and speaker were challenging and what he did to get through them. We also talk about how he got his first book deal, which of his books is his favorite, and what daily practices help him the most.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you’re reading this via email, please click here).

Show highlights

In this episode, Jon and I talk about:

  • Does he have to work at being so positive?
  • How many rejections did he receive for The Energy Bus?
  • How long did it take for him to become a best-selling author?
  • Does he consider himself more of a messenger or a writer?
  • What is failure meant to do for us?

Everything in your past prepares you for your future.

Jon Gordon

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On writing and speaking as a calling

  • What did he do to become a sought-after speaker?
  • How did he discover his calling is writing and speaking?
  • Is he a writer first or a speaker?
  • How long does it take him to write each of his books?
  • What is his writing process when not working on a book?

Everyone has greatness inside of them.

Jon Gordon

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On life after law school

  • What do you have to give up to be truly great?
  • What is his book The Carpenter all about?
  • How did his biological father leaving Jon at an early age influence him?
  • Where did his drive for success come from early on?
  • Who is ultimately responsible for anything we have in our lives?


What is your unique calling and how did you find it? Let us know in the comments.