As a boy, John O’Leary experienced one of the most physically devastating experiences a person can have without dying. But the real story is what John did next— lived, with a sense of passion, purpose, and dedication to fulfilling his potential that’s impossible to match. Then he taught millions of people how to do the same. This is his mission and his message.
John O’Leary is a two-time national bestselling author and world-renowned thought leader who, in 1987, was burned by a massive explosion in his home that left burns on 100% of his body. He was given less than a 1% chance to live. Today, John hosts the Live Inspired Podcast, which has more than 2.5 million downloads, and speaks to over 50,000 people every single year.
[2:10] - Being Awake vs. Feeling Alive
The moment John came to life was long after the fire
For two decades after the fire, John felt lost and directionless. Then he began to consider his talents, and how they could be used to create a life of purpose regardless of what had come before. Today, John speaks powerfully on the difference between simply being awake and feeling alive. We should all seek a life that makes us feel alive every day.
[14:36] - A Ladder On the Wrong Wall
Why relentless drive is nothing without purpose
John describes a conversation he had with someone who obtained every material success, before succumbing to addiction and losing it all. The way he puts it, he had reached the top of the ladder— but the ladder was leaning up against the wrong wall. What are the ladders in our lives? Are we sure we’re climbing toward a destination that’s worth reaching?
[21:28] - The Heroes That Make Us
You don’t have to make yourself the protagonist in your story
In the speaking industry where both Paul and John have made a career, it’s easy for some speakers to slip into self-aggrandizing stories of their own achievements. But both our host and our guest prefer to focus on the impact of those who have touched their lives— after all, we are made by the people who shape us.
[38:09] - The Power of Empathy
Love and grace through pain and suffering
After the fire that burned 100% of John’s body and destroyed his parents home, John expected his father to be furious. Instead, he expressed how proud he was of John for getting through this tremendous trial. John never forgot the lesson in this experience— that a little empathy toward the people we love can transform their lives and our own.