An Interview with Greg Hartle

This interview first appeared on Successilism on Feb 26, 2013

Greg Hartle is one of the people I look up to when it comes to pursuing passion in order to live a more meaningful life. After an illness that almost killed him, Greg had decided to rise up and live life to fullest, which only goes to show that it’s not too late for anyone to live life the way we want it. You can read his inspiring  journey at http://tenlap.com/journey/, but for the meantime, I present to you, Greg Hartle.

I understand that you went through a dark time during your illness, how did you cope during that time?

During my illness I was in survival mode. I didn’t really consider it a dark time as much as an opportunity to overcome the most significant obstacle in life… death. Every minute I wasn’t doing something to survive (e.g. sleeping, dialysis, medical visits, etc.) I was simply connecting with people I love.

It was after the transplant that I experienced tremendous confusion, doubt, worry, and uncertainty. Mostly because I was so certain of who I was and the outcomes of my life pre-illness. Post-illness my certainty was shattered. To cope, I did anything and everything you can imagine… I cried, I got angry, I lashed out at people, I hid in fear, I didn’t leave the house, I played, I hung out with friends, I hugged family, I read self-help books, I watched inspirational videos, I wrote and wrote and wrote in my journal, I worked with psychologists, counselors, and other “spiritual guides”.

greg hartle

What I learned: if you’re ever going to be certain, be certain about one thing and one thing only… this too shall pass. I also learned that most of us are conditioned to believe life is always “up-and-to-the-right” like a company revenue chart. But, that’s just not the case for nearly anyone. Instead, outer change will always occur. How we handle the inner transition is what matters. Inner transitions happen in three stages: We END something… We spend considerable time in AMBIGUITY having no idea who we are or what is next… We START something. If you’re struggling, you are not stuck and you are not broken. You are, however, likely in ambiguity phase. And that’s perfectly okay.

How would you describe yourself?

I’m just a dude pursuing meaningful work and a meaningful life. I do this through countless self-experiments. My latest experiment is http://tenlap.com/ which led to the birth of  http://newmethods.org/ which led to the launch of http://academyonthego.com/.

What was your childhood dream?

I didn’t have many dreams as a child. Or, at least if I did I don’t remember them. I was just trying to get by. There wasn’t too much time for dreams. There was work that needed to get done for survival. I did love football. Though, I’m not sure I loved playing the game as much as I loved the attention from cheerleaders.

Growing up, what did the word “success” mean to you?

Not becoming my parents. My dad was an alcoholic who abandoned my family when I was 5. I knew I didn’t want to be that. My mom worked too hard (she usually had 3 jobs), never had any money, and seemed to struggle to get by daily. I knew I didn’t want that. I had no idea what I wanted; I just knew what I didn’t want. Now: I want to be everything my mom is and more. My dad, still not so much.

Was life easy for you back then?

My life has never been easy. Nor do I expect it to be. The very aspect of “life” is difficult. Pay close attention and you’ll realize that for most people it’s difficult to breathe correctly. As far as getting what I want, yeah I pretty much always get what I want because I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get it. Getting things is rarely a challenge. Enjoying the process or enjoying those things once you get them, that’s a different story.

Was there something you wished you knew 5 years ago?

No. That would be boring. My life is built on experiments. If I knew the answer I wouldn’t want to explore it.

Things you wish you did differently?

There are lots of things I wish I did differently. Mostly, I wish I wasn’t an asshole. It’s hard not to be an asshole. Most of us are so focused on ourselves (often for good reason) that we aren’t polite, caring, empathetic, compassionate, and loving toward others that aren’t in our immediate sphere of influence. For instance, the other day I wish I would’ve held the door for a woman who was carrying two bags. I saw her coming, but I was in a hurry so I did the selfish thing and let the door go and kept walking. I mean, I don’t know her right? So who cares? That. I wish I wasn’t like that.

What’s your ultimate failure so far?

Not parenting a child and helping that individual become a contributing member of society. I can’t think of a more important responsibility as a member of the human race.

Other than that, I’ve had several colossal failures… pretty much every romantic relationship I’ve been in, several businesses, multiple investment deals. I tried not to eat any sugar today and I failed at that too. Failure is a funny word because it assumes that a particular outcome is to be expected, yet the idea of expecting a certain outcome in the first place is a failure in and of itself.

Was there a time you felt like you were just wasting your time pursuing something that seemed far-fetched to other people?

I’m kind of different. I truly don’t give a shit what “other people” think. I know others often say that, but I do my best to live it. There are tremendous societal consequences for living this way. Some good, some not so good. I’m willing to accept those consequences. In short, no. I’ve never felt that way.

Describe a typical day for a Greg Hartle.

Wake up. Explore Earth. Make a meaningful difference in someone’s life. Sleep. (And I usually eat somewhere in there too)

Based on your blog’s title, you started with ten dollars and a laptop. Do you mind sharing to us where that ten dollars led you?

I donated the $10. You can go no further than that which you are attached to. I felt I was waaaaay too attached to that original $10 so I got rid of it. Then, my only option was to show up and get to work. 700+ days later and I’m still alive, healthy, and working. You can read the full story here: http://tenlap.com/journey/

What’s the difference between you and the Greg Hartle before the Ten Dollars and A Laptop?

Hopefully, nearly everything. “Everybody look at you strange, say you changed. Like you work that hard to stay the same.” ~ Jay-Z

Most people don’t have the courage to do what you did, I mean leaving their comfort zone to enjoy life and stuff, take risks etc. What’s your message for them?

It doesn’t take courage to do what I’m doing. A certain level of crazy, maybe. Not courage. It takes courage to run into a burning building. It takes courage to wear the uniform of your country and be dropped off on foreign, hostile territory. It takes courage to parent a child. What I’m doing is just exploring myself and the world.

But, in case someone needs a little nudge to get out of their comfort zone I would say: Do something radical (not dangerous). I promise you’ll feel better.

What inspires you?

This —> “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” ~ Chuck Close

People who inspire you?

Parents who take their job seriously and teachers too.

How do you define success now?

I don’t. I don’t care about outcomes. I care about the inner journey.

Advice for people who wants to become successful in their own endeavors?

Ignore most advice. Explore.

So, what’s next?

What’s next? Well, today I need to figure out where the hell I’m going to sleep tonight. Other than that, I’m excited about launching http://academyonthego.com/.