Understanding the concept of ARETÉ — the Greek word for virtue and the pursuit of excellence in fulfilling one’s purpose. In the hustle of everyday life, it’s easy to become disconnected from our deepest aspirations and potentials. Brian Johnson, the founder and CEO of Heroic and author of ARETÉ, recently sat down with life coach Myrna Young to discuss tapping into our inner hero, overcoming fears, and living a more purposeful life. Drawing from a wealth of philosophical studies and personal experience, Johnson shares actionable steps toward self-improvement that promise to ignite our heroic fires.
Download the podcast here:
- Pursuit of Excellence: Understanding the concept of ARETÉ — the Greek word for virtue and the pursuit of excellence in fulfilling one’s purpose.
- Overcoming Fear with Courage: The role of bravery in confronting life’s challenges and the necessity of courage for personal growth.
- Daily Masterpieces: The importance of tackling self-improvement and excellence daily to create a cumulative impact on our broader life goals.
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Understanding ARETÉ: The Ultimate Game of Life
The ancient Greek concept of ARETÉ is a rich and potent term referring to the pursuit of excellence aligned with our purpose. Johnson has embodied this term, making it the north star of his life’s work. He discusses with Myrna the notion that the pursuit of excellence must begin with the recognition that ARETÉ is attainable and deeply rooted in ancient wisdom and affirmed by modern science.
“It’s the essence of my life’s work,” Brian states, as he explains the fundamental importance of reducing the gap between our potential and our actions. When we operate below our capabilities, feelings of regret and dissatisfaction creep in. In contrast, living with ARETÉ fills the void with fulfillment and passion.
Johnson advises individuals to take some time away from distractions like Netflix and social media to reflect on who they aspire to be. He suggests visualizing our future selves and identifying moments in the past when we felt truly alive and fulfilled. Connecting these two points provides a clearer picture of what we can become.
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The Role of Courage: Embracing Fear as Fuel
One of the supervening messages from Johnson’s discussion is the critical role of courage. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the will to act despite it. Johnson reinforces this through a personal anecdote about his son’s reluctance to participate in a chess tournament due to fear of defeat.
“The win there was going,” Johnson notes, marking the importance of the act of trying over the outcome. This illustrates the significance of instilling bravery as a value—not just in ourselves but in our successors.
The act of overcoming our inner doubter, that voice in our heads that beseeches us to play it safe, is essential for growth. Breaking through the fear barrier is a cornerstone of ARETÉ that Johnson passionately upholds: stepping into our challenges is how we kindle our inner hero.
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Making Today a Masterpiece: The Cumulative Effect of Daily Excellence
One of the objectives Johnson outlines in ARETÉ is the principle of making today a masterpiece. The idea is to focus on being our best selves in present moments, which sequentially contribute to a more significant, fulfilling future.
“Make today a masterpiece. Not someday, today,” Brian advises. He emphasizes this by advocating for an incremental improvement approach—stretching ourselves by just a minuscule percentage, repeatedly, can lead to accomplishing seemingly impossible goals.
This philosophy aligns with Johnson’s comment about teaching his son to focus on continuous learning and improvement, rather than solely on winning. By prioritizing our growth and learning from every experience, we tread a path toward mastery in our personal and professional lives.
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ARETÉ: Harnessing the Power of Your Inner Hero
In retrospect, Brian Johnson’s conversation with Myrna Young is a vivid tapestry intertwining the ancient concept of ARETÉ with practical life lessons and philosophies. Readers are left with an empowering message of harnessing inner potential, facing fears with unyielding courage, and building a life of greatness through the accumulation of daily acts of excellence.
Johnson’s tale of his son’s chess tournaments serves as a microcosm of a broader narrative — that our greatest learnings and developments stem from our willingness to confront that which intimidates us. The acknowledgment that personal growth is a result of a steady, intentional, and courageous commitment to betterment is a takeaway that holds profound implications for anyone seeking meaning and vibrancy in their life.
By embodying the principles of ARETÉ such as wisdom, discipline, love, and courage, bolstered by gratitude, hope, curiosity, and zest, we don’t just approach life — we sculpt it, day by day, into a masterpiece. Brian Johnson’s insights serve as a reminder that the heroic resides not in the extraordinary but within the reach of our daily choices and courage to stretch just a little further into our greatness.