Deciding to Live the Phenomenal Experience

Deciding to Live the Phenomenal Experience


The past year of my life has been very frustrating.

I've seen (at least) five separate projects stall or fall apart. Some in the early development stage. Others in pre-production. One of them was well into advanced post-production.

But something went wrong with all of them.


It was different each time, but it always seemed to be a problem with other people. I had trouble finding someone who could ______. (Or at least ______ to my satisfaction under admittedly impossible circumstances.)

The "blank" is different for each project. Sometimes it was "write". Other times it was "produce". For the project in post-production, it was "do visual effects".

But regardless of which project it was, there was always something that got it stuck. And when something's stuck long enough, it's "stalled". And when it has stalled indefinitely, it's "fallen apart".


Then about a month ago, I had a very small corporate gig in Port Townsend, in Washington state. (I should probably mention that I've been a director/producer/writer for film, TV and video for most of my life to date). My schedule had me there for a week, hoping to shoot two days of sunshine between all the rain. But the weather played nice for us (which it doesn't always do in Washington state) and we shot everything in the first three days. It left me some time to look around and relax.

It was great -- I got some distance from my "projects".

But a funny thing happened when I returned home.

I didn't want to do them anymore.


They were just too damned frustrating. I mean, seriously, does it always have to be such an uphill battle? I felt like I'd spent a whole year pushing a mountain (for its own benefit!) that just didn't care. Great projects -- that only inspired apathy in everyone. I couldn't rally the troops. I had to do everything myself. The mountain just didn't want to budge.


These were projects I was passionate about. At least two of them could've been extraordinary and led to wildly successful follow-up projects.

I remember being on the set in November of a web series pilot I had created (just before I was being flown to Kuala Lumpur to speak at a film festival) when someone said to me "you should be happy; you're doing what you love." But I wasn't happy. Because it wasn't right. Somehow none of it was right.

And that's the crux of it.

None of it was right.

When I returned from Washington state last month, I prepared to "dig in" and finally finish this web series pilot.

I was having enormous problems finding visual effects people. I'd struggled for over a year developing it, and six months on the (no-budget) production to put this thing together. I'd poured countless hours into it. And now it didn't even vaguely resemble the show I was so passionate about last year.

Why? What had gone wrong?


Rather than get back to work on it, I decided to do something different. I decided to dig deeper and question everything. I started looking for a common thread. So many projects falling apart -- there had to be a reason.

And then I found it: Me. I was the problem.

How can five disparate projects fall apart? There's got to be a weak link. And I was the only link. But was it my leadership style? Was I not sufficiently motivating everybody? Was I expecting too much out of people without enough experience?

No. It was something else entirely.


What I discovered was that every single one of those projects was what I'm now calling an "interim" project.

An interim project is something you do not because you want to do it, but because of where you think it will lead.

Sometimes we need to do interim projects. Maybe we need a day job while we pursue our passion, because our passion isn't strong enough to support us yet. I get that.

But I didn't need to do any of these interim projects. I was just avoiding what I knew I should be doing. I was doing each one because I thought it would get me somewhere.

And that's not what life is all about.

So what is life all about?

Life is about identifying your contribution, and having the courage to share it with the world.

Funny thing about that.


I identified my contribution about 15 years ago. I know my "life purpose". It's pretty simple (which is not to say "easy"). I'm here to share some ideas with you — and with the world.

My plan has always been:

  1. Build a system where I can create an output of film and television projects.
  2. Create enjoyable and successful movies and television shows, and establish a name for myself.
  3. Gradually reveal the ideas I'm here to share -- in easy, fun ways, building trust and respect from audiences for the quality of my work.
  4. Once I've achieved some success, reveal some of my more ambitious ideas.

The plan hasn't worked.

Somewhere along the way (Step 1), I got sidelined. I've tried to course-correct a few times, but the truth is -- so much energy is required to build something of value, it demands your full focus. And if you're busy focusing on something that's less important to you, you're spending all that time ignoring the thing that's truly important to you.


And then it hit me.

The ideas I want to share with you... I just need to share them.

Simply. Plainly. Directly. When I'm done, if anybody's interested, we can get back to that other plan of making movies and TV shows about these ideas.

But first things first. Invert the plan. Start with Step 4.


Why did I ever create such a complicated plan in the first place? I know why. I've been afraid. When you put yourself out there, naked, on a limb, you're taking a risk. "What if people laugh at my ideas?" "What if they reject me?" "What if I don't succeed?"

Enough of that.

Courage is being scared and doing it anyway. And when you look deep inside your own heart, you know what you're meant to do. There's something pulling you. I call it your "Contribution". It's something in you that only you can contribute to the world.

And when you identify what it is, ironically, all fear and doubt and worry simply fall away. It's who you are. When you pursue it, you just feel right. You know you're doing what's right for you, and in the process, you're doing what's right for all of us.

For me, I need to share my ideas with you. Not in some complicated, cumbersome way through some elaborate plan. But simply. Directly. Powerfully.


The crux of the idea I need to share with you is this:

You are phenomenal.

Phenomenal. And I don't mean that in a warm-and-fuzzy "aren't-we-all-just-great" sort of way. No. You are objectively, scientifically, by-the-very-definition-of-the-word phenomenal.

And I've realized that it's my job to show it to you -- and to explain why it's a) important, and b) more significant than you think.

The best way I know how to do that is to write a book.


And that's why here, now, today, I am announcing that I'm in the middle of writing a new book called:

PHENOMENAL: The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.

I've been working on it for a month now. It's outlined (24 chapters plus an Intro, a Prologue and an Epilogue), and I'm working on Chapter 1 as we speak (well, after I finish this blog post, anyway). I hope to have it finished by the end of August, so that I can release it in November. But I don't want to rush it (it needs to live up to its title), so I might not release it until February.

I'm extremely excited about it. I'm going to show you precisely how and why you are phenomenal. But more importantly than that, I'm going to show you that there are some pretty staggering implications to that. For example, it requires that we act accordingly. And when we do, we're in for an extraordinary future.


Now, before you start thinking I'm some nut-case (or that I'm trying to transition into a self-help guru career), let me tell you this. This is not some self-help thing, or a mystical New Age thing. I'm not religious, and I'm not promoting any agendas. I respect everybody's right to believe what they want, so I won't be challenging any of those beliefs. But that's not me. I'm a skeptical, show-me-some-proof kind of guy, and that's where I'm coming from with all this.

That's why this book is different.

I dream big because I know that "big" is possible. I say "you are phenomenal" not to play to your ego or to make you feel good... but because I know this is objectively true. You are. And I can prove it. And that, it turns out, is what I'm most passionate about.

We'll make movies about it later. For now, I need to get these ideas out into the world. Because the world needs it.


At the moment, we don't see ourselves as phenomenal. And that's a problem. Because if we don't see ourselves that way, then we won't live accordingly. And we need to live accordingly. For our own sake, the sake of the planet, and the sake of our future.

Now let's take it one step further.

If you are truly phenomenal (and if you stick with me, I will demonstrate that you are), then this life -- life itself -- is actually a phenomenal experience.

Think about it. Isn't that a great description for life? "The phenomenal experience"?

Imagine if you started treating every day as though you really were a phenomenal individual. Wouldn't you do more with your day? Wouldn't you reach higher? Wouldn't you act with greater conscience? And then wouldn't this attitude push you forward into new moments, achievements, and experiences that truly are "phenomenal"?

Before you know it, you would be living the phenomenal experience.


Ironically, we choose the actions we take. We can choose to live a phenomenal experience or an "average" one. An exceptional one, or a mundane one.

The choice is yours.

As for me, about a month ago I realized that my experience was not what I wanted it to be. I don't want to make movies or television that I'm not deeply passionate about. I just don't want to.

So I've chosen, instead, to write Phenomenal. I've decided to live the phenomenal experience.


I'm going to blog my experience for two reasons:

  1. I believe the experience itself is going to be phenomenal, and
  2. When you read the ideas in the book, you can refer back to this blog and see how one man applied it, and that may help you on your own journey.

This blog won't be about me telling you the mundane moments of my day. In fact, I'm not even going to blog daily. And it won't be about "10 tips to a more phenomenal you". Sorry. This is about more than that. It's about living the phenomenal experience.

The truth is, for me this just feels right. In a way I can't describe. It's like I've chosen to do something that's completely aligned with who I am, and what I want my life to be about.

Alright. I'll stop now. I'm probably starting to sound a little nutty. But keep reading the blog. You'll get a better sense of what I'm all about. And you'll see that this isn't about me and my experience. It's actually about you and your experience.

Because it all comes down to a simple choice:

Will you spend your life on the interim projects?

Or will you decide to live the phenomenal experience?

Next up, Article #2:
This Is Not What
You Think It Is

Phenomenal: The Self-fulfilling Prophecy
is a dynamic new nonfiction book from author Jeff Bollow. You can pre-order your signed, Limited Edition first printing copy with our zero risk buyback guarantee right now. Visit the Pre-Order page for full details.


Shannon (not verified) 25 June 2009 - 5:20 pm

This path of discovery seems to be so elusive when all other factors take up our time and block us from living fully. I have questioned constantly why are some times in our lives, that can last for days or a year, we are superhuman and everything is aligned and how do we stay in that extraordinary life?

I am looking forward to this book, it is exactly what I and many of my friends experience, the “survival mode”, where fear steps in, perhaps to remind us that what you are doing right now is not your path. Is that what we need to recognize as a sign to know your true journey? Are you dismissing what you really wish you could be doing?

Why does it feel right when you no longer ignore your purpose? I think because it is the truth of what you NEED to do, not just what you want to do.

Can’t wait to read more on this blog!

Damian de Boos-Smith (not verified) 26 June 2009 - 2:38 pm

Jeff, I commend and congratulate you on your bravery with listening to the truly passionate part of yourself and acting upon it. Without a doubt, your sharing of this aspect alone is a much-needed gift to many. I look forward to watching your journey unfold. I too am on an unfolding journey of living my true purpose and there is no doubt that if there is a coexistence of passion and compassion residing within, then being brave enough to listen to that voice and acting upon it leads to immense joy, growth and a profound sense of usefulness. I’m finding that being brave enough to challenge the way you’ve always done things, or to act in the face of opposing external expectation, or to love and trust your deepest intuition, becomes easier with practice. In fact, the bursts of revelation are so immensely satisfying that once you’re on the path of living your purpose, there’s no getting off because the joy is too addictive and the pain of doing otherwise becomes too much to bear. I greatly look forward to your book!

Bret Gibson (not verified) 26 June 2009 - 12:11 pm

1.A fact or happening observed or observable: the phenomena of nature. 2. something that seems beyond the ordinary of the observer: a remarkable thing or person. 3. An appearance or immediate object of awarness in experience.

Jeff, I always reach for the dictionary to help me gather insight to a word that has more than one meaning. Phenomenal is one of lifes greatest gifts because it is life itself which is phenomenal, yet many of us don’t realize this until it is too late. I am interested to know the journey you are on and look forward to sharing the Phenomenal experience with you when I read the book.

YaaraDromi (not verified) 18 July 2009 - 12:35 pm

It’s so strange to see all this things that I’ve been thinking about lately put to write in such in an organized and analytical fashion.
Being not as organized and not as analytical as you, I was struggling with similar ideas lately but couldn’t formulate it to words myself.
Writing this obviously took a lot of time and energy – so, thank you for that.