Transcript of the show:
Chip: How are you doing? I’m Chip Dizard, and welcome to the Amazing People Podcast. And today I am joined by in my estimation an amazing person. He’s from National Tennessee. His name is Jeff Goins. Welcome to the show Jeff.
Jeff: Thanks for having me Chip, good to be here.
Chip: Hey, I just wanted to — every show I start off with people give me a little bit about their background, and how — I’ll tell you how I found you. By just of course through a mutual follower Michael Hyatt, and then I started reading your blogs, and I started subscribing. But give me a little bit more about your background. Where you’re from, and how you got started writing.
Jeff: Sure. Well so I was — I am originally from the Chicago suburbs. I was born, and raised in northern Illinois, and then I went to college in central Illinois where I met the woman who became my wife. So I eventually chased her down to Tennessee, she wanted to work in the music business, and we live in Nashville, and that’s kind of a big deal here. But before that happened, I graduated from college, and I had a desire to travel. I had spent a semester in Spain, I was a Spanish major. So I spent a year traveling with a band, I traveled all over the US. I went to Taiwan, spent some time in Canada. And that just kind of continued to stoke the fire, and so I moved to Nashville really kind of on a whim. I slept on a friends couch for about seven months, didn’t really have much to my name. And I started working with a nonprofit organization where I’ve been working for the past six years, it’s based out of Georgia. It’s called, Adventures in Missions. And I started as a writer there. They asked me to train their missionaries; it’s an international mission organization. Train their staff, and mission participants how to blog, and how to tell their stories online. And so I didn’t really know how to do that. I had like a Zynga blog at the time, but I didn’t — I had to learn as I was teaching. And so I did that for a little while, and that eventually turned into a marketing position, and now I’m the Communications Director there.
So all that to say I’ve been a writer my whole life, and even trained other people in how to be writers, and bloggers. I was a writing tutor in college, and one of my biggest struggles is actually believing that I am a writer. And so anybody who follows my blog would, which is Goinswriter.com, knows that this has been a big part of my story in the past year and a half, is just kind of making the audacious claim to call myself a writer was really scary, and at the same time a really cool thing because after I did that, I mean, my writing, I started getting serious about my writing. Because when you start calling yourself something, you know, if you call yourself a carpenter and people start asking you to build houses for themselves, you better believe that you better figure out how to build a house. So that was kind of what happened to me is you know I started calling myself a writer, and I started having to act like it because there was this expectation on me.
So shortly after that, I got a book deal, and a year after that, here we are.
Chip: Okay. So we want to get right into the book. And I want to just to say that I enjoyed the book thoroughly. It’s called, “Wrecked”. And I want to just talk about just the genesis, just how did the book just even come about?
Jeff: Yeah. I mean, that’s part of, it’s part of my story that I just shared. I was telling amazing stories of amazing people, going and doing incredible things. You know like selling all their possessions, and moving to Africa to serve the poor or love on orphans. And I was telling stories of people planning churches, and building houses in Mexico, and friends who had decided to move to China, and learn how to adapt to a whole new culture. And so here I am in middle Tennessee with my laptop on my lap sitting on the couch telling all these stories, and there is dissonance for me. Here I am in a very comfortable setting telling these amazing stories about how people are making themselves uncomfortable, and doing incredible things, and I just kind of — there’s this kind of dissonance between the story I was telling and the story I was living.
And so “Wrecked” is an exploration of those stories, of people who go, and do amazing things, and have their worldviews changed, have their paradigms turned upside down. But then it’s also about the other side where you go on a mission trip, you spent a season overseas or in the inner city. You know you’re exposed to uncomfortable situations. A lot of times poverty or pain or suffering. And then you have to come back to normalcy. And so “Wrecked” is kind of an exploration of my own story of living in that tension between knowing I was made to do incredible things, but at the same time realizing that there are slower seasons of life where I’m called to commit to the things that I’m supposed to commit to. And so I think we all kind of live in that tension of wanting to have an incredible story, and at the same time, understanding that we have daily commitments, and the main message of “Wrecked” is the idea that what we are called to do when we’re going to go out and live incredible stories is not necessarily to live the story that we would write for ourselves, but to live the one that we’re called to do. And so to be wrecked really means to do what’s hard for you in a given season. And sometimes that’s moving to Africa, and sometimes it’s taking out the trash.
Chip: And I can totally identify. Because when I first read the book I said, “Okay, is this the missionary angle.” I’d say, “Well I’m not a missionary.” But then you talked about it could be anything. So for instance for me, I’m now when I was working at a school district, I got laid off, and then I took a teaching job for media in the inner city, and everyday — like there’s one day in particular I came home wrecked because a kid wrote on one of our expensive computers some graffiti. And I was like, “Oh my goodness, this is me, I’m wrecked.” So it doesn’t have to go overseas, it can happen right here in my neighborhood or in the neighborhood I’m visiting or I’m working at.
Jeff: That’s right. Yeah, I mean, it’s basically the realization that life is not all about you, and that your most — you are most fulfilled when you are most uncomfortable, which feels like an oxymoron or like a paradox or something. But it’s true I think. When we set out to get all of the things that we want in life ultimately, it’s not enough, we’re not satisfied. And so to be wrecked I think is to really live a truly fulfilled life. Yes, it’s messy, yes it might be painful, but it can also be really beautiful.
Chip: Yeah. In the book, you talk about — one of the stories I really like in the book, you talk about a young lady named Michelle. I’m not going to give it away because I want people to get the book, and read that story. But that story really hit me hard because in a way, you were helping this young lady, but you were saying, was it — you know when your time is up, it’s time to go. Talk about that when you’re helping and how it, and compassion; you talked about that in detail in the book.
Jeff: Yeah, well you know Michelle was this younger single mom. She had two kids, and another one on the way. She lived across the street from public housing, from projects, and she lived in this small little apartment. And I met her through this local food distribution charity organization in Nashville where basically when people were at their wits end, they were at their very last measure before ending up homeless. They would call this ministry, and then they would deliver a box of food. It was a last ditch effort to help people, to save people. And so we’d deliver a box of dry goods, spaghetti, rice; stuff that could last a while. Not great food, but stuff that could last a while. So we met her. And it was incredible. She just thanked us, and cried the whole time. And I had been doing this; I had been working at this organization, just volunteering on Saturday mornings for a number of months. And sometimes you’d deliver food to people, and they had like a flat screen TV, and they’re just like, “Oh yeah, just leave it on the counter. Whatever, see you later.” You know so you kind of encounter some of that mentality. And we didn’t — all we experienced with Michelle was this brokenness and this appreciation. And so we had all this food, and we’re like, “Hey do you want us to put it in the kitchen?” And she said, “No, no, the kids are sleeping. I want them — just leave it here. Just leave it here; I want them to see this when they wake up. They’re going to be so excited.” And so we — I left there, and I was wrecked. I couldn’t sleep that night because I was thinking about this woman, and her family. And so my girlfriend who had became my wife, my girlfriend at the time, we started hanging out with these people. We started becoming their friends, baked cookies for them, took their kids to the zoo. Sometimes just went and watched cartoons. Hung out, whatever. We became friends. We got into relationship with them. But you know like I got to be honest, I mean, I do things for mixed motives all the time. And it sometimes feels good to do good, right? It makes us feel good. And frankly, we can get attached to that feeling. And I think that’s what’s starting to happen. I started to feel like I was the one who was going to save this woman; I was going to make her life better. And I have lots of friends who have tried to do that same thing, and it doesn’t work. And so I was visiting this woman, and I was telling her, “We’re just here to show you God’s love, show you compassion. And this isn’t just me doing this, this is God showing you that he cares about you.” But really, if I’m being honest, part of me was like, “Yeah, like I’m feeling pretty good about myself. I was, it was a codependent relationship, I needed to be needed. And so one day we knocked on Michelle’s door, and she was gone. And that was real hard because I thought, how was she going to be okay without me?
Chip: And I think that Jeff, that’s what struck me when you wrote about the whole word “codependency”, and I — and it says, “In visiting Michelle, and doing other things, I’ve grown codependent getting my self-worth from what I did for others in need.” And when I read that, I said, “My goodness, how many people are that honest with themselves when they are giving things away or when you throw the money at Salvation Army?” When — I passed a man this morning with, “We’ll work for food.” How much of it is about me or is it about the other person? You know what I mean? And that’s an honest, that’s a harsh reality a lot of people probably don’t face. So I really, really appreciate you doing that.
Now, I also want to go into — you talk about another story. I’m big on stories and I’m more of a multi-media video guy so it’s all about the story. And one of the stories in the book is on page 160 when you talk about a messy situation. I don’t want to go into detail because it was very graphic. But it was a messy situation. But it really told me, and I underline this portion. You said, “Life is messy, and I’m tired of pretending otherwise. We all, at some point, we all face a point in our lives when our shame is laying there for all to see. If we’re lucky, someone comes to our aide, and shows us grace.” To me, that’s so powerful, Jeff. Tell, talk to me about, not the story per say, but just about life being messy.
Jeff: Yeah. Well, life is messy, you know and I have a friend who says that — you know a fellow blogger; she says that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. And so I think of one of my favorite authors is GK Chesterton, and he talks about how the world is full of paradox. And he says, “The most true things in life are imperfect.” And so he says, “The human body is perfectly symmetrical. You’ve got two eyes, two ears, you cut your nose in half, it’s perfectly symmetrical except you only have one heart. And the world is perfectly spherical except that it’s kind of squished in the middle towards the equator.” So the point is we want perfection, right. We think that we want to get our life completely in order. But what if that wasn’t the key to living a fulfilled life? What if the key to living a fulfilled life was saying, “This is messy, and I’m going to choose to enter this situation anyway.” The story that I tell in the book, you know about a man needing a fresh pair of pants was an uncomfortable, gross situation, and I could have ignored it. And so I mean, like that’s a — I choose to end the book with that story because this never ends, this choosing the hard thing, choosing to enter the messy situation. And that can be anything. It’s whatever you don’t want to do. So say you’re married, and your relationship with your spouse is just sort of plateaued. The messy thing to do is probably have that hard conversation that you don’t want to have. You know, you can keep coasting, maintaining the status quo, but there’s a conversation that you need to have that you don’t want to have. The mess is all around us, and the reason that it’s messy is because life is full of people, and people are not perfect. And so if you’re constantly looking for perfection, you’re not going to find it, and you’re going to get really frustrated, and you’re going to frustrate other people. But if you’re looking for something beautiful, a deeper purpose for your life, it’s going to involve people. And because you and I are not perfect, it’s going to be messy, and you can get frustrated with that or you can say, “This is actually kind of beautiful.”
Chip: So Jeff, just in closing, want to know people how they can get the book, how they can get in contact with you on twitter or your blog. If you can just tell us ways to get in contact with you, and to purchase your book.
Jeff: Yeah sure, absolutely. Well, you know I’m a new author and so I know how this goes. You know I’m a reader a books. And so when I see somebody who I might have heard of or maybe not, and people are talking about this book, my first inclination is to wait. I want to hear about more about, I want to read reviews. I’ll give it a few weeks, and I never really buy something the first week it comes out. But I also know that if you wait to get something, sometimes you don’t get it. And so we’re doing this promotion this week to encourage people to buy the book the first week. The way book publishing works is you have a limited window of time to get your book out there, and so we’re trying to give this message the best chance it has to succeed. And so anybody who buys the book this week, August 1st through the 4th 2012, will if they scan their receipt or email their amazon receipt, they’ll get, we’ll send them $158.00 worth of free resources including some, the audio book, the audio version of the book, a study guide, a bunch of other things that I’ve written about, the craft of writing if you’re a writer, communicator it might be worthwhile. And you can find out about all of that at wreckedthebook.com. And then if people just want to connect with me, they can find me at goinswriter.com, that’s just my last name, Goins G-o-i-n-swriter.com. And I’m on twitter at jeffgoins.
Chip: Okay great. So again I want to just share to our listeners and our viewers that “Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into your Comfortable Life.” And Jeff it’s a great book, forward by Michael Hyatt, and I know that — I want to say congratulations, I know you have a newborn, I know how it is. You wrote a book, a newborn, you hold a full time job, you do a blog. My goodness, I thought I was busy. My goodness.
Jeff: It’s been crazy.
Chip: Well hey Jeff, I really appreciate your time, and I just want to employ the listeners to this week to pick up this book, “Wrecked”. Its on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, any other of your booksellers. And wreckedthebook.com, and goinswriter.com. So thanks for being here Jeff, and sharing your time with us on our podcast today.
Jeff: My pleasure Chip. Thanks.