I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed for the Get Inspired! Project - a collection of amazing stories of inspiration from professionals and entrepreneurs developed by Toni Reese, President of The PEOPLE Academy, Inc.

Below is an excerpt from the full interview, which can be viewed here: http://www.getinspiredproject.com/2010/05/14/day-226-david-riklan/


Toni: It’s been an interesting journey on the Get Inspired! Project with that question of how do you help people to explore their own potential, and then of course we’ll get to that question for you in a bit, and that’s not easy for people to answer.

David: It’s a challenge. First, it’s a challenge to figure out how to explore your own potential independently of getting other people to explore their potential. I think the first challenge is to figure out how to do it for yourself, and then to figure out how to help other people do it.

One of the things I’ve done – I don’t know if it was part of me or where it came from — but early on in my life, I had this desire to kind of figure out for myself what I can really accomplish. What’s interesting is this term that’s thrown out there a lot called “finding your life’s purpose.” And a lot of people kept telling me “Well, if you find your life’s purpose, you’ll be inspired, you’ll be able to change the world, you’ll do all these things.” I had in my mind that I needed to go out and figure out what my life’s purpose was.

What’s interesting to me is I was struggling with this for a long time. “What do I want to do? What do I want to accomplish?” Mom wanted me to go to medical school, and dad probably wanted me to be a psychologist and, you know, everybody had different goals for what they wanted me to do. And I needed to figure out my own life’s purpose.

After some time of struggling with figuring out my life’s purpose, I decided that my life’s purpose was going to be to figure out what my life’s purpose is. So that’s my current life’s purpose. My life’s purpose is really to figure out what my life’s purpose is, and what better way to do that than to, for a living, explore and find great resources to improve your life, to get inspired, and to find your life’s purpose?

Toni: You’ve totally come full circle on that! You have created an opportunity on your journey to help other people while you’re figuring it out for yourself.

David: Exactly.

Toni: That’s awesome. All right – well, that leads beautifully into the third question of the Project, which is, what do you need to be inspired?

David: I just need to look around to be inspired. It’s an interesting thing. A lot folks say “Well, who’s your mentor, who are you learning from?” A lot of people try to get inspired, they try to find a mentor to be inspired by — whether that mentor is a religious figure, a non-religious figure, whether it’s a spiritual figure, whether it’s a successful businessperson like a Donald Trump.

You know, people go out and they try to find a person that’s going to inspire them and be their mentor, be their guru. And what’s interesting for me — and this goes back a long time ago — I also wanted to find a mentor. So this goes back to finding a life’s purpose. I wanted to find a mentor, and for a while I said “You know what? All I need to do is find the right mentor who is going to teach me, and I’m going to grow, and he or she is going to help me find my life’s purpose and figure it all out.” And after a while of struggling with this, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to find one person that was going to be my mentor.

I chose a different path. I said “You know what? I can start learning and growing and being mentored by everybody. And I decided early on in my life that everybody that I meet, everybody that I see, everybody I hear, everything I read, I can learn something from everybody. It’s an interesting concept. So if I see someone who is very successful, I can say “What can I learn from that person? What has that person done?”

If you look at the flip side of that, if I see someone in pain or isn’t successful or is failing at something, I can also say “What can I learn from this person’s experience? What can I learn to do or what can I learn not to do? Can I learn from their mistakes? Can I learn from what’s going on in their life?” So I use everything in my life as a potential way to inspire me.

There’s a concept in terms of ways to learn from mistakes. A lot of people are in a position where they’re challenged by failure, and this is very common. If you try very hard to figure something out and you’re struggling, you’re struggling, you’re struggling, and finally it comes to a point where you’ve failed at it, you know, some people walk away and they just say, you know, “I’m a failure. This didn’t work, this is horrible – I failed in my life.” One of the challenges for folks is to really find somewhere in themselves the ability to reframe that failure.

So instead of looking at everything as a failure, it’s an opportunity to learn. It’s an opportunity to learn from mistakes. By virtue of that, when something good happens to me, when I’m successful at something, I look at that as a way to inspire me. If something fails in my life, I look at it as a way to inspire me to learn something or to try harder.

So virtually everything … I try to use everything and everybody in my life as a tool to inspire me.

Author's Bio: 

David Riklan is the president and founder of Self Improvement Online, Inc., the leading provider of self-improvement and personal growth information on the Internet.

His company was founded in 1998 and now maintains four websites on self-improvement and natural health, including:


His company also publishes six e-mail newsletters going out to over 950,000 weekly subscribers on the topics of self improvement, natural health, personal growth, relationships, home business, sales skills, and brain improvement.

David’s first book—Self Improvement: The Top 101 Experts Who Help Us Improve Our Lives—has been praised by leading industry experts as the “Encyclopedia of Self Improvement.” That book’s success motivated him to continue publishing books which seek to improve the lives of others.