And slowly over time, I started putting myself in a better mood. I mean, 50,000 blogs are started a day, and so my blog was just one of those 50,000. And nobody read it except for my mom.
Although I should say that my traffic did skyrocket and go up by 100% when she forwarded it to my dad. And then I got excited when it started getting tens of hits, and then I started getting excited when it started getting dozens and then hundreds and then thousands and then millions.
It started getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And then I got a phone call, and the voice at the other end of the line said, “You’ve just won the Best Blog In the World award.”
I was like, that sounds totally fake. Which African country do you want me to wire all my money to?
But it turns out, I jumped on a plane, and I ended up walking a red carpet between Sarah Silverman and Jimmy Fallon and Martha Stewart. And I went onstage to accept a Webby award for Best Blog.
And the surprise and just the amazement of that was only overshadowed by my return to Toronto, when, in my inbox, 10 literary agents were waiting for me to talk about putting this into a book.
Flash-forward to the next year and “The Book of Awesome” has now been number one on the bestseller list for 20 straight weeks.
But look, I said I wanted to do three things with you today. I said I wanted to tell you the Awesome story, I wanted to share with you the three As of Awesome, and I wanted to leave you with a closing thought.
So let’s talk about those three As.
Over the last few years, I haven’t had that much time to really think. But lately I have had the opportunity to take a step back and ask myself: “What is it over the last few years that helped me grow my website, but also grow myself?”
And I’ve summarized those things, for me personally, as three As. They are Attitude, Awareness and Authenticity.
I’d love to just talk about each one briefly.
So Attitude: Look, we’re all going to get lumps, and we’re all going to get bumps. None of us can predict the future, but we do know one thing about it and that’s that it ain’t gonna go according to plan. We will all have high highs and big days and proud moments of smiles on graduation stages, father-daughter dances at weddings and healthy babies screeching in the delivery room.
But between those high highs, we may also have some lumps and some bumps too. It’s sad, and it’s not pleasant to talk about, but your husband might leave you, your girlfriend could cheat, your headaches might be more serious than you thought, or your dog could get hit by a car on the street.
It’s not a happy thought, but your kids could get mixed up in gangs or bad scenes. Your mom could get cancer, your dad could get mean. And there are times in life when you will be tossed in the well, too, with twists in your stomach and with holes in your heart, and when that bad news washes over you, and when that pain sponges and soaks in, I just really hope you feel like you’ve always got two choices.
One, you can swirl and twirl and gloom and doom forever, or two, you can grieve and then face the future with newly sober eyes.
Having a great attitude is about choosing option number two, and choosing, no matter how difficult it is, no matter what pain hits you, choosing to move forward and move on and take baby steps into the future.
The second “A” is Awareness.
I love hanging out with three year-olds. I love the way that they see the world, because they’re seeing the world for the first time. I love the way that they can stare at a bug crossing the sidewalk. I love the way that they’ll stare slack-jawed at their first baseball game with wide eyes and a mitt on their hand, soaking in the crack of the bat and the crunch of the peanuts and the smell of the hotdogs.
I love the way that they’ll spend hours picking dandelions in the backyard and putting them into a nice centerpiece for Thanksgiving dinner. I love the way that they see the world, because they’re seeing the world for the first time.
Having a sense of awareness is just about embracing your inner three year-old. Because you all used to be three years old. That three-year-old boy is still part of you. That three-year-old girl is still part of you. They’re in there.
And being aware is just about remembering that you saw everything you’ve seen for the first time once, too.
So there was a time when it was your first time ever hitting a string of green lights on the way home from work. There was the first time you walked by the open door of a bakery and smelt the bakery air, or the first time you pulled a 20-dollar bill out of your old jacket pocket and said, “Found money.”
The last “A” is Authenticity.
And for this one, I want to tell you a quick story. Let’s go all the way back to 1932 when, on a peanut farm in Georgia, a little baby boy named Roosevelt Grier was born.
Roosevelt Grier, or Rosey Grier, as people used to call him, grew up and grew into a 300-pound, six-foot-five linebacker in the NFL. He’s number 76 in the picture. Here he is pictured with the “fearsome foursome.” These were four guys on the L.A. Rams in the 1960s you did not want to go up against.
They were tough football players doing what they love, which was crushing skulls and separating shoulders on the football field.
But Rosey Grier also had another passion. In his deeply authentic self, he also loved needlepoint. He loved knitting. He said that it calmed him down, it relaxed him, it took away his fear of flying and helped him meet chicks. That’s what he said.
I mean, he loved it so much that, after he retired from the NFL, he started joining clubs. And he even put out a book called “Rosey Grier’s Needlepoint for Men.” It’s a great cover.