#72 - Jon Acuff on parenting, technology, and distraction

June 4, 2024
Jon Acuff

Episode Summary

This week on The Aro Podcast, Joey sits down with Jon Acuff, New York Times bestselling author of nine books, including his latest, All It Takes Is a Goal. Jon and Joey dive into Jon's journey of writing ten books and explore recurring themes across his work. They discuss concepts from Jon's book Soundtracks, which focuses on overthinking, and draw parallels between overthinking and distraction, highlighting how overthinking can be a major source of internal distraction. The discussion then shifts to technology and phones, with Jon revealing his own eye-opening experience of spending 13 hours on Instagram. Joey and Jon get candid about the challenges faced by the first generation growing up with smartphones and social media, and Jon shares how he manages these issues with his two daughters. Emphasizing that age isn’t a one-size-fits-all measure for giving kids phones, Jon offers valuable insights on the intentionality and investment required from parents. They wrap up the episode with Jon's parenting philosophies and advice for parents transitioning their kids from high school to college.

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Episode Transcript

Jon Acuff (00:11):

My thing with distraction versus overthinking is that I think our culture puts a lot of focus on the obvious distractions. Instagram, social media, what email, whatever. But it's the internal thoughts that are like beating yourself up is a distraction and it's a time consuming one, but I guarantee if you read 99% of books about distraction, there won't be a chapter on stop beating yourself up. There'll be a chapter on how to set up email structures, and that's important too, but I think that's the internal stuff, the soundtrack stuff that causes a lot of distractions that we don't have and we haven't discussed those.

Joey Odom (00:51):

Welcome back to The Aro Podcast. Hey, it's your good friend, Joey Odom, Co-Founder of Aro, and I'm embarrassed that I haven't asked you this question before. Do you like treats gang? Do you like treats Because you're going to get a treat today from Jon Acuff. Now, Jon, just a little bit of a backdrop and we started this podcast and we're 60, 70 episodes in 70 some episodes in one of the people at the very top of our list was Jon Acuff, and I didn't tell him this. He's been an elusive little rabbit for us that we see other people, friends of ours with him on their show and getting close to 'em, and we just never quite made the connection or maybe didn't quite have the boldness. Jon's kind of a big deal. He would be the last to tell you that, but Jon is an amazing author and speaker and it was one of those that was really on the top of our list.

So this was super fun having him on the show. And we did this live in Nashville. Many thanks to Gabe Lyons at the Think Studio. So we did this live and Heath Wilson, Co-Founder of Aro and I went down there and hung out with Jon A. Little bit and he is just absolutely hilarious. I mean, he's just so quick. You'll hear a couple things in there. There's a line in the interview that just about killed me when he talked about when you feel like you're the worst mother on the planet, and I'm not going to spoil the surprise there, but he has a great line when it comes to that that will make you feel better even when you're feeling bad, to know that you are not the worst mother on the planet. Jon was a ton of fun. He is a well of wisdom. I think humor is such a great way of presenting a truth.

It kind of brings your defenses down. Sometimes when someone's preaching at us, it's very easy to get defensive, but Jon does such a good job of diffusing all of that with humor so that we can internalize the message that he's saying. So you're going to love this episode. It is hilarious. I would recommend bringing the kids, bring in your spouse, forward this to friends. In fact, I would ask that question. Will you forward this to people? Forward this episode to two people. They will love it and you're going to enjoy it as well. For now, sit back, relax, and enjoy my conversation with the hilarious great Jon Acuff

Gang. Today we welcome a former glow stick dancer who lights up the room with wisdom and taps on your heart. Just like the tap dancer, he was in school. He's an aisle seat only jet setter who's gone from Edgewood to Brentwood, from beam to Beantown when in Rome, he does as the Romans do. And when in London, he wears a crossbody European carry all. Just ask Le and McCrae as they hide their faces in embarrassment. He's a gold bond sponsored Hawaiian short wearing ultimate Frisbee champion. He's a dog, petter and a Lego setter. He loves blowing rock, but he never blows smoke. He likes his tacos soft. His albanese bears gummy and his queso for every meal. Most importantly, he's Jenny's greatest accomplishment in construction management and he's our guest today on The Aro Podcast. We're usually remote, but just like Yani at the Acropolis today, we are live. Please give me a big bow. Wow bulldogs and welcome Mr. Jon.

Jon Acuff (04:14):

And best intro ever. Best intro ever. Come on now. Easy, easy, best intro. So many hits. So good, dude. So good. Whoever wrote that, well done. What do you mean?

Joey Odom (04:24):

Whoever wrote that? You look

Jon Acuff (04:25):

At him. There's probably a team. Probably a team. Interns. You got a team. Well, you killed it. There's one thing I do. You killed it.

Joey Odom (04:32):

So good. So just indulge me and everybody. We can cut this. So good. Dude, we got to debrief it. Can we debrief it

Jon Acuff (04:37):

Real quick? Yeah, let's

Joey Odom (04:37):

Go. Let's go, let's go. You were a glow stick dancer.

Jon Acuff (04:39):

Yeah, I got into raves senior of college. I was a pretty great college student. I believe that. Yeah. Oh my gosh.

Joey Odom (04:46):

You were a tap

Jon Acuff (04:46):

Dancer. Took tap dancing and I went to an all boys Catholic high school and I was like, this will be how I meet girls. This will solve all my problems. Just the trick. Yeah, I know what girl's like. It's tap dancing when

Joey Odom (04:59):

She sees this tap. You grew up on Edgewood Drive. You've gone from Edgewood to Brentwood,

Jon Acuff (05:03):

Massachusetts. That was brilliant. Let's

Joey Odom (05:05):

Go be him to Beantown and Okay. And you do wear cross body European carrys. I wish

Jon Acuff (05:10):

I had it on right now. I could have snacks in it. I could have some of the gummy bears in it right now.

Joey Odom (05:14):

Not just gummy bears.

Jon Acuff (05:16):

Albanese gummy bears. Yeah. Once you've had one of theirs, my wife is always like, you need to get sponsored by these people. You talk about constantly. That's how the world works. I'm like, yeah, I should really get into some gummy bear

Joey Odom (05:26):

Money. Do you say I'm already sponsored by Gold Bond?

Jon Acuff (05:29):

That was a long time ago. That was, yeah. I played Ultimate Frisbee in the Buddha League. Birmingham Ultimate Disc Association. Get it. It's Play on words. It's an acronym. Yeah. Peace and love discs works together. I love it. It's so good, dude. Yeah, you killed it. It good?

Joey Odom (05:44):

So good. So good. There you go. Good. You there? Anything else? I mean, I got to say to me it was Yani. The Yani.

Jon Acuff (05:50):

I stand by that a lot of times. I joke so much that people can't tell if I'm serious and I have to say no. I really like Yani Live at the Acropolis and he did all his own money. He took a risk. It's fantastic. I saw Yani live here. I went to a So in concert. Yeah. And he talks in between. He'll just say stuff like it'll be playing and it'll be like, you can't catch the wind, but you can catch a dream. I'm like, man, that is true. You can drop that song. That is. And he's like, good luck. I love it. Yeah. So I wrote to, what happens is I get stuck on a certain soundtrack and I write for a year to that, and I went through a whole Yani Acropolis that

Joey Odom (06:35):

What are a couple other big

Jon Acuff (06:38):

Dude, the things I'm riding to right now currently is a hobbit dude. This is the Dorkiest thing. Let's just start with what a dork I am. Somebody sent me a link and I went down the steep rabbit hole of there's people that make two hour, three hour, four hour loops of what it sounds like in the Shire. So the one I'm listening to right now is Peaceful Night in the Shire, and there's another one where it's two hours of studying with Gandalf, and then all you hear is a fire crackling. And then it sounds like a quill on parchment every now and then. Oh my. You like Gandalf must be taking notes. Oh yeah, I got it. We're doing some hard work. Gandalf, we're focusing. So that's what I'm listening to right now. So when people are like, are you that dorky? I'm like, it's not a bit, yes, I'm a hundred percent of the guests you've had on that said, what am I listening to right now? Two hour Loop of Sounds from the Shire. What sentence? That sentence doesn't lead to you ever kissing a girl.

Joey Odom (07:36):

Oh my gosh. I'm telling you, Jenny is an amazing woman. I just gained a lot of appreciation for

Jon Acuff (07:42):

Her. Yeah, she's fantastic. Well,

Joey Odom (07:44):

That's fantastic. And she has built a great man. She's a construction manager. Look where

Jon Acuff (07:48):

We are. Look where we are. Look how

Joey Odom (07:49):

Many books. Yeah. Look how many

Jon Acuff (07:51):

Books we've done stuff.

Joey Odom (07:52):

Exactly. I'm going to have a hard time getting back from the Shire there, but that's

Jon Acuff (07:59):

Okay. That's all right.

Joey Odom (08:01):

I am curious. You've written, are you on your 11th?

Jon Acuff (08:04):

I'm writing my 11th one right now. Yep.

Joey Odom (08:09):

And you may have gotten this question a bunch, but when you're writing your books, do you find that, are you writing out of mastery or out of struggle when you're writing this

Jon Acuff (08:17):

One? Torture. This one's killing me, dude. It's kicking my butt this week. It's been torture. I guess it depends on the topic. So I think there's look back books and there's write during books, and so I feel like this is a mix of both because I've done some things over the last 10 years that I'm writing about, but I'm still tinkering. I'm still figuring them out. But yeah, no book writing's hard for me. I have to really force myself to focus to write books. I'm a wiggly person. I wear out holes in the butts of my jeans from moving when I'm typing, I move around so much. I'm that, and my wife can hear me from downstairs and she's like, oh my gosh,

Joey Odom (09:05):

Up there.

Jon Acuff (09:06):

I've ripped holes in the sheets of our bedsheets. I run while I sleep. And she's like, could you just not? I'm like, don't these buy tougher sheets? What kind of cotton

Joey Odom (09:17):

Is this? Yeah, exactly. I was going to say, what's our ply? But I think that's toilet paper. That's toilet paper. What's our thread count, honey? Yeah, what kind of thread count we're working with?

Jon Acuff (09:23):

So yeah, writing's hard for me,

Joey Odom (09:25):

Which is so discouraging for any aspiring writers to hear those. Oh, I mean, it's easy. Writing is hard for

Jon Acuff (09:30):

Once you find your dream, it's easy. Once you feel the call of the pen, it's hard for me, but I don't want to overdramatize it because what writers do is they go, writing's easy. You just open a vein and bleed. Come on, dude. What's hard? Coal mining? That's the bill burr thing. Bill burr's always like coal mining is harder. Stop it. And so for me, I try to remember that where I'm like, it's still just writing, but it calls up insecurities. It calls up, what if this person doesn't like it? Calls up, who am I to say this? So yeah, I think it's challenging. Yeah, I hope that somebody hears that and goes, okay, because it's been kicking my butt too. That's helpful. If a guy who's written X amount of books feels that way, then I'm not weird that it's hard.

Joey Odom (10:14):

So why did you write a book to begin with? I guess you didn't know the difficulty ahead of you, but maybe why did you write another book? How about that right after

Jon Acuff (10:22):

You? I was thinking about that the other day. My new thing is I'm going to tell people it won't take as long as you think. It won't take as long as you think. Because if somebody told me as long how long it would take, I would've never done it. If somebody, I tell this story where I did a book signing with Jon Maxwell, the leadership expert, and we were in the same lobby. It was in Dallas, and he had 500 people in line. I had zero. And people waited with armfuls of his products to get autographed. Nobody in my line. And very humbling. And somebody patted me on the back and said, 10 years buddy. And then they walked away. And it was true, but it wasn't necessarily encouraging. It was like, Hey, in a decade, don't worry about it in a decade. And so I'm telling people now, it'll be faster than you think, because if somebody, I think if we knew how long it would take, we wouldn't do it.

But you don't have to know how long it'll take. You just do the next step and then you do the next step and you do the next step. So I didn't set out to write X amount of books. I was just like, okay, what's the next step? And then I did that one, and they're like, what's the next step? And I did that one. And then looking back, it doesn't feel like a grind to me. It was challenging, but I look back and go, oh yeah, I guess I did do that thing. That was difficult. But it didn't feel difficult at the time, in part because I enjoyed doing it. There's an old line, somebody said about the difference between doable hard and destructive hard. And so I think you're always trying to figure out, where's my doable hard? I need doable hard. I do. I need to be challenged. I don't need destructive hard. And I think that's where people, when they go too far, that's when things fall apart.

Joey Odom (11:56):

And even so the book you're writing right now is, I read you had a great Instagram post the other day about how your three hours of writing actually, will you tell that? And you read it to

Jon Acuff (12:06):

Jenny, dude? No. Yeah, I've had, I swear to you at least 10 separate situations in the last six months, I've probably put 180 hours into this book, which you go, that doesn't sound like a lot. Well, it is. If you think 10 hours a week, that's 18 weeks, do something for 18 weeks. But I've had 10 situations where I go, I finally did it. I cracked the code on this book now. Yes, this is it. And I'll come downstairs and I'll read it to my wife and she'll be like, boring. So safe. Who wrote that? Where's the humor? And I'll be like, oh. And that happened this week. I wrote something. I was like, oh, we've done it. We've done it. And I brought it down. I mean, at the start of this, I gave her 16 chapters and she liked two. Now, for me, that's tremendous marriage progress because at the start of our marriage, if she had been like, these all are terrible, that would've been an argument.

It would've been me grumpy for a week, I would've been. And so over the years, I've learned how to receive that feedback through counseling and just age. And so now I look at it, I'm like, ah, she's right. She's right, she's right. And I feel very fortunate to have a wife that has the ability to say that I'm glad I have the ability to hear that. And the product at the end is better. The book is better when the person who knows me the best is able to tell me the truth and go, I remember one of my favorite lines I ever wrote was, because Jenny called me out. The first book I wrote was called Stuff Christians. And it was a satire of growing up in the church. I wrote the intro and we were in Alpharetta, Georgia. We had no money. I told my wife the other day, we sure to camp when we were nearly married.

And she's like, because we were poor. That's why we camped so much because it cost $11. That's what we could afford. The only place we could sleep. Not our house was in the woods. That's why we weren't enthusiasts. We were poor. I'm like, but I didn't even really think of it that way. I was like, oh, how did you say it? But so we're sitting there in Alfred, Georgia. I give her, I did this week, I read her the intro and she's, oh, it's so boring, it's so safe. And so in that moment, I'm frustrated. I'm like, oh, you wanted me, okay, I'm going all in. And so I really go all in, just start

Joey Odom (14:25):

Dropping the F bomb. I just go real hard,

Jon Acuff (14:28):

Spite motivation. I'm not above using Spike to get something done. And so I write this crazy intro and I'm like, what about this? And she's like, finally. And the first line of the book is, if you buy this book, God will make you rich. And at the time, prosperity Ministry was huge. And the second line was, I was going to say, if you read this book, but I'm pretty sure if you just get it at the library, you won't get the same blessing. And that dude, that Zondervan who publishes the Bible, the actual Bible was like, yeah, we'll put that in a book. I was like, oh my gosh. And so that's what, a week this week, fast forward 14, 15 years, whatever. I'm trying to reconnect with that. Oh, what can I say? Where's the humor? What, because the only thing I can differentiate myself in the space I'm in nonfiction business, self-help is with humor because I can't compete on so many of these other levels.

I can't compete on research. I can't compete on scientific background. I can't compete against a professor, but I can be way funnier. I know I can, because read a lot of these books. I'm like, I didn't laugh once in this. I learned a lot, but man, and so I'm like, okay, how do I put humor into it? Because that's really one of the few things that, or then my own story. That's the other thing. A lot of these books, they won't put their own story in. For whatever reason, it's not the right fit or they don't feel comfortable with it. But if I can go, yeah, here's how I blew it. Talking about my wife saying some section of the book sucks. That alone is different than how a lot of people would write about their marriage or their work process. And so I'm trying to, how is it relatable? How is it funny? How is it honest? The only way I'll be able to stand out?

Joey Odom (16:11):

And that seems like that would force you into a posture where it would be very hard to take yourself seriously, which would be easy for someone in your position to do once you've written 10 books and people love you and people listen to you. But then it also is just a little bit of a welcome thorn in your side to make sure

Jon Acuff (16:27):

You don't take yourself seriously. No, but I struggle with taking myself seriously, and then this forces me out of it. Right? Exactly. Yeah. Oh my gosh, I get so locked in and serious and you got to be high performing and all these things. But when I write about this, I'm like, oh, what am I talking about? I mean, I tell a story at the end of my speeches right now where I say, I did a four hour event at FedEx, the FedEx corporate headquarters, amazing event, great team. And they bought a book for everybody. Awesome. And the publisher sent me at the email with the tracking link to the FedEx corporate headquarters, and I clicked on the tracking link and it was a UPS tracking link. So I tell this story from stage, it gets a huge laugh. I go, lemme say that again. IUPS books, the FedEx corporate headquarters.

And then I go one step further, which is what you do with jokes. And I go, A dude in a brown truck had to pull up to the FedEx security gate and say, Hey, I got some Jon Jacob books. He's a business expert. Clearly, where should I deposit them? I'm not familiar with your campus. And then I'm building, building, building. That's the kind of thing that I can choose to be embarrassed by that. And I was, when it initially happened, that was embarrassing. It was frustrating. There was anger, all the stuff. But then over time, I'm like, man, who hasn't done something like that? And man, that's more relatable than I don't like when I go to an event and it's just 20 years of that person's home runs. And I'm like, dude, I read a book recently, really famous book. And it was like the person's fifth book.

And in the back they had some q and a questions, and one of 'em was, has this new book proven anything from your first book 20 years ago to be wrong or different? He was like, no, it really hasn't. I was like, oh, just 20 years a win. 20 years a win. You didn't, are you kidding? I would've trusted him if he said, you know what? 25 years ago we said this. We got that one wrong. We didn't know. And over 25 years, we can see in a quarter century, culture's changed. Life had changed. Now I look back on it's different. But instead he was like, no, you know what? This actually, that first book proved the fifth book True. And the fifth book proved the first book True. I was like, come on,

Joey Odom (18:32):

Dude. It sounds like you're reading a lot of Trump's books,

Jon Acuff (18:34):

It sounds like. No, this one dude, no, this was somebody way like amazing. Yeah,

Joey Odom (18:39):

No, that's amazing.

Jon Acuff (18:40):

So I was just like,

Joey Odom (18:41):

And humor allows, and you're so good at this humor. I mean, again, the jester was the only one who could speak truth to the king because it was in humor. And so it gives you such, and you are so great about that. But in the jokes require huge. You said this a little bit earlier, alluded to it, the vulnerability in writing a book. So jokes require a lot of vulnerability. The crickets moment is a little bit rough. So I mean, I guess just inherently you said taking risks, that's how you're taking risks, is you,

Jon Acuff (19:10):

Well, you say 10 things and one of 'em really going to work, and the other nine you're like, or you're always doing the Aro. On, will this add something? Will it be funny? Am I the only one who thinks it's funny? Yeah. So I think you're always weighing the odds of this joke, this idea definitely.

Joey Odom (19:31):

Is there a through line? I mean, we see it, see starting and overcoming doubts and all that kind of stuff, and the narratives you tell in your head, but is there a singular through line in your work of all the books, do you find, Hey, here's the thing I kind of keep finding myself gravitating back towards, or does it bounce around or is it wiggly and just moves all over?

Jon Acuff (19:51):

Yeah, I mean, I think the one I come back to over and over is, oh, I could do that. Oh, I could do that. And my wife and I were talking about that. I think that works on both, on two levels. On one level, when somebody falls, when some leader falls, somebody makes a mistake. I try to say that as a reaction of, oh yeah, I could do that. I got that in me. The first reaction wants to be, I can't believe they did that. Or How do they not have structures or whatever. And I go, I know me. I could do that. I need to be careful. I need to. And then the flip side, the positive side is when somebody does something that's encouraging or big, and you go, oh, I could do that. I could do an album. Like, oh, I could do a company like, oh, I could write a book.

Or, oh, I could be a dad. Or, oh yeah, I think I could do that. So I think that's the through line for me is with Finish, it's like, oh, I could finish projects with overthinking. It's like, oh, I could be deliberate about my mindset with All it Takes is a goal. It's like, oh, there's ways to do big goals and small goals. Like, oh, okay. And with Quitter, you can figure out a job you like. So I'm always like, oh yeah, I think I could do that, and I'm curious, could I do that? I think the through line,

Joey Odom (21:08):

Do you think you referenced when people see others fail and the natural reaction is, I can't believe they did that. Do you think that, and people, I find that'd be curious if you agree with this, I find that people seem to celebrate when they see others fail. And the way you just characterized it made me feel like, I wonder if people do that because they know that they could also just deep inside of them and be like, yeah, that could be me also. But it's easier to just say, to kind of celebrate somebody else's failure. Does that

Jon Acuff (21:36):

Make sense? Yeah, totally. No, I mean, I think about it all the time now, the age, I'll be 50 next year. I didn't even realize that A friend, former friend, after he said this was like, Hey, you'll be 50 next year. And I was like, no, I won't do the math in my head because I'm a writer. But I turned 49 in December, so technically December 19th, next year I'll be 50. And I was like,

Joey Odom (21:57):

He's right. But only technically

Jon Acuff (21:58):

For 12 days, 12 days of that year. So the older I get, the more curious I am about people who have long-term sustainable success. I no longer obsess about the person who has one YouTube channel that blows up for a year, or one book that does really well, or one, I'm like, who are the people that have been doing it for 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 40 years? What are they doing? What are the systems they do? What are the people they surround themselves with? What are the things they do to keep their mental health in check? That's what I'm curious about. So when I see somebody fall, yeah, I try to have that reaction of, oh, I could do that as empathy. Oh man, that's a human. That made a human mistake. And man, and then it's like, okay, well what do I want to do in my own life?

What do I want to do differently? I think the hard thing is the jealousy or the comparison, when you see somebody do well, shuts you down from learning from them. So that's what I wrestle with is like, okay, if I read somebody's book and I catch myself automatically going like, nah, that never worked. Or if I go, oh, wait a second. Or if I dismiss it and I go, oh, that's such a dumb title that's happened where I've been like, it's such a clickbait title. And then I read the book, I'm like, this is a really good book. And if I had set with my initial response, which was jealousy, which was insecurity, I would've missed what they had inside it. And so I'm always kind of trying to pause and go, wait a second, am I just jealous of this person? And that's going to make me miss what they have to teach me.

And if that's a reaction, I'm going to miss some good stuff. So let me pause that and go, oh, this is just jealousy versus going down that path. But yeah, I think people celebrate people falling because it makes them feel better about what they haven't done, which is if they haven't achieved the thing, they're like, see, or it gives them permission to go. If you do get successful, it always happens. Another thing is, oh, that's interesting. If you go, oh, I see people go like with churches, mega pastors always blah, blah, blah, blah. And you go, well, the 10, you know that fell, but there's 10,000. If you go to Dallas, there's a thousand mega pastors, and you heard about the 10, and then you were like, no, see? And then you get into this dangerous spot of success always leads to falling. And then you start to play it safe. You start to self-sabotage. There's all these things that happen as a result of that, which is just a broken soundtrack. When you make a rule of if you get successful, if you get money, if you get whatever, it always falls, then what's the solution? The solution is don't ever stay small. And then you go like, that can't be, don't use your gift. That can't be the just because some people burn their gift out or blow up their lives with their gifts, the solution. So therefore don't use your gift. Dude,

Joey Odom (24:56):

That's really good. Oh, thanks. That's really good. That's

Jon Acuff (24:59):

What I like to do. Be funny front and then

Joey Odom (25:02):

Sucker punch, just freaking in the middle, in the stomach. Exactly. You did. I feel sucker punched. And for those, if you're not watching, he did hit me in the kidney. He hit me directly in the kidney when

Jon Acuff (25:10):

He said that You got

Joey Odom (25:10):

Two. I dunno why you're whining. Hit the other one. How do you know

Jon Acuff (25:14):

That's true? Maybe

Joey Odom (25:14):

You donated

Jon Acuff (25:15):

One. What a hero.

Joey Odom (25:17):

What a hero. Listen, a lot of

Jon Acuff (25:18):

People, I don't like to talk about

Joey Odom (25:19):

It. We throw that word around a lot every time. I'm just like, thank you, thank you again.

Jon Acuff (25:25):

I had more than I

Joey Odom (25:25):

Needed and I am wearing a cape because I am such a hero. What did you, everywhere I go, I do.

Aro Member (25:33):

I think what was a turning point for me was when I felt like I was struggling with resentment because I would be trying to finish something, finish a post, finish something, and then there would be an interruption, which there inevitably is. If you have any children ever, there's always interruptions. So I think that was just a heart check for me. Why am I feeling this way? My child is not, she's interrupting me from something that's not as important as she is. Social media, our phones are not as important as our children, but sometimes when we are interrupted while we're on our phones, the response that I had to not reflect that. And it's still, if I'm honest, sometimes it still does. It still doesn't. And so that's something I have to continually check. Being intentional about my phone usage.

Joey Odom (26:20):

We love hearing stories from the Aro community. The one you just heard actually comes from our Voices of Aro episodes where I sit down with Aro members and they share about their stories and their lives with Aro. Make sure to check out the Voices of Aro episodes, and if you're a member who would like to share your own story with Aro, please email us at stories@goaro.com.

You mentioned soundtracks, which is about overthinking, and you may again hit me in the other kidney. I do have to hit me in the other kidney if this connection doesn't quite connect. When I read the way you define overthinking, overthinking, you say it is what you think gets in the way of what you want. And you recently asked on Instagram people's definitions for distraction. The way we define distraction, our business is about distraction. We say very simply, distraction is anything that gets in the way of your intentions. And so I saw a parallel between your definition for overthinking is what you think gets in the way of what you want, and distraction being anything that gets in the way of your intention. Do you think there is a parallel between, or maybe just overthinking is a subset of distraction or vice versa? Do you see a parallel between

Jon Acuff (27:28):

Those two things? A hundred percent. I think what's interesting, I like your definition, and I'm still working on mine, but it's going to have the word anything in it because everybody kept saying anything. It could be good things, bad things, small things. The challenge with distraction is because it changes shape constantly. It shifts its shape. It could be something good in one setting, but it's bad in another. And so my thing with distraction versus overthinking is that I think our culture puts a lot of focus on the obvious distractions. Instagram, social media, what email, whatever. But it's the internal thoughts that are beating yourself up is a distraction. Wow. And it's a time consuming one, but I guarantee if you read 99% of books about distraction, there won't be a chapter on stop beating yourself up. For sure. There'll be a chapter on how to set up email structures, and that's important too. But I think that's the internal stuff, the soundtrack stuff that causes a lot of distractions that we don't have, and we haven't discussed those in my opinion. Will

Joey Odom (28:31):

You give a two minute version for the listener? Just a little tease. Just wet the whistle on. For people who haven't read soundtracks, which by the way, Heath Wilson, my co-founder in the room, that was when we moved to Knoxville from Atlanta. He gave a gift to all of us, to my entire family. And the gift he gave to my daughter was soundtracks that book. This was a couple years ago, which was great. We give a little bit of, you kind tease it out there, you give a little bit more on just kind of that premise behind it and the soundtracks that we're replaying in our mind. Yeah.

Jon Acuff (28:55):

So the premise is that the longer you listen to certain thoughts, the more they become part of your personal playlist. And you have a soundtrack for every job you've ever had, for every person you've ever dated, for every city you've ever lived in. Your whole life runs on soundtracks and they've got tremendous power. And the big thing you have to understand is great thoughts turn into great actions. Great actions turn into great results, and we tend to overfocus on the results we want, but we never change the underlying thoughts. So the core premise is what if you could make overthinking work for you, not against you? And the way you do that is you retire broken soundtracks, you get rid of the ones that are holding you back. And it can be, I'm not a good mom, I'm the worst mom. And the joke I always do with that is like, no, it's Hitler's mom At best. You're the second worst. But I think we all agree she's way worse. I know you forgot your kid's lunch, but it's got to be Hitler's mom. The second thing is you replace 'em with new soundtracks. Your brain is waiting to be told what to think, and then you repeat those new ones. So often they become as automatic as the old ones.

Joey Odom (30:00):

She was so bad though. She was, yeah, let's not let her out. She knows

Jon Acuff (30:03):


Joey Odom (30:04):


Jon Acuff (30:04):

Knows. I don't know her name, but

Joey Odom (30:05):

Yeah, no, it's whatever it is.

Jon Acuff (30:08):

Yeah, we don't like it. Nobody names a kid that name. I guarantee you

Joey Odom (30:12):

Saying, even if I knew it, I wouldn't say it that bad. Exactly. By the way, I will take a pause there for people to please go order it. It's fantastic. Thank you. I appreciate that. And it is applicable for me as a mid forties dad. It's applicable for my daughter who's a teenage girl. It's across the board. Because you're right, that is 100% universal that we are playing some soundtrack. It doesn't matter what, maybe it's different for everybody. Maybe positive may be negative, but we're all playing soundtrack.

Jon Acuff (30:39):

Dude. I did. So I had a broken soundtrack. I had just finished the Nashville half marathon and I did the best I'd ever run. And I was walking back to my car and I passed the food pavilion and I passed a homemade popsicle stand. And my brain was like, you would be terrible at running a Popsicle stand. And I was like, what? And I was like, yeah, how would you even staff it? You don't know anybody that has fresh fruit in Nashville. What kind of permits? And he had to bring that on a trailer. You would be terrible at driving that trailer. You couldn't even back

Joey Odom (31:07):

A trailer.

Jon Acuff (31:08):

And I was like, it was like I was enjoying the day too much. And my body was like, let's get this back down. Is that actually true? A hundred percent. A hundred percent. So that's why when people are books that I think the books that connect the best with people that I write are where I've connected with the content and it's genuine and it doesn't feel topical. It feels like, yeah, I do this. And then when I tell that example, they're like, oh yeah, just the other day my brain said something terrible to me out of nowhere. That was a very specific one where I was like, but I'm not trying to run a popsicle stand. What are you even talking about right now? It was like, just in case you get the idea, we are not doing a Popsicle stand. We don't know permitting with the city.

It's probably Davidson County. They got even more permits. It was just my brain. And that was two seconds. Two seconds. So that's what I talk about a lot in soundtracks is those runaway thoughts and how to do something. And the idea is if you can worry, you can wonder if you can doubt, you can dominate. If you can spin, you can soar. So I essentially say a plane can drop a bomb or food syringe can deliver poison or medicine. Your thoughts can work for you or against you. You get to choose. So let's choose great thoughts and that I think the majority of us were never taught. We got to choose our thoughts. We don't know how to talk about that. And so that for me was mind blowing. And then I was like, oh, well, let me choose some better ones. Some ones that don't tell me you suck at running a Popsicle stand.

Like what? And then you can recognize when it's doing that. And then you have a vehicle that go, no, what? I see what you're doing. No, I'm good. I am not going to think about this all day and be like, how was the race? Race is all right, man, I'm terrible at running Popsicle stands. That's what in the past, I would've done that. I would've donated hours to that broken soundtrack. And now I'm like, I see you. Not only do I see you, I'm going to make somebody laugh on a podcast about you in the future.

Joey Odom (33:07):

Well, what's great about that is it does illustrate by using the absurd, and it's only absurd because I know how good you'd be at a Popsicle stand. I just know it. I don't know. I just know it in my heart.

Jon Acuff (33:17):

I'd be good at the crowd work, the crowd work I'd crush, but we'd have an 82 on our health

Joey Odom (33:22):

Code. I think your flavor combos would be insane.

Jon Acuff (33:25):

Yeah, that'd be great. Yeah, we'd have a gummy bear one that I could brand the heck out of that.

Joey Odom (33:30):

You already know that

Jon Acuff (33:31):

With my social platform, I could probably really know for

Joey Odom (33:34):

Sure. But by using the absurd, it does. We all, people are laughing listening to this, but then when you take it back to yourself, yeah, no, that's a little, you were able to kind of dwell on it and kind of play it all the way out. But we are doing that all the time. And so it gives us a chance to, and one of the things I love you saying in the book is basically that just because you have a thought doesn't mean it's true.

Jon Acuff (33:56):

Yeah. Assuming what you think is true is one of the greatest mistakes you can make. And the thing I always tell people is you never call your thoughts out on the lies they tell you. So everybody listening to this has had a thought say, that person's mad at you, that person's mad. They're mad. And you think about it and you worry about it, and then you interact with them and they forgot the thing you thought they were mad about. You never go back to your thought and go, Hey, you lied to me that time, so the next time you tell me something, I'm not going to be so fast to trust you. You just trust it. Again, we never go back to the thought and go, I'm noticing a pattern this whole week. These thoughts weren't helpful. So going forward, I'm not going to believe them so fast. And so we just trust. And the reason why in my opinion is you trust it because it's delivered in the voice you've heard the most your entire life, which is your own. Wow. Every thought you've had is delivered in the same voice, so you're familiar with it. So you just trust it. You often don't even notice it's happening. And so that's part of the process is getting a little bit of distance to notice it's happening.

Joey Odom (34:54):

So this goes into other narratives feeding in our brain, which goes into technology, which we think about all the time, but you talking about it a bunch, and you've built an amazing platform using social media channels. So this is no from either of us any demonization of social media, but I have heard you recently got a job at a social media company. Is that right? So you got to tell every about your new job on social

Jon Acuff (35:15):

Media, 13 hours a week.

Joey Odom (35:16):

That's fantastic. Let's

Jon Acuff (35:17):

Hear about it. I framed it that way, right? If you frame something in an absurd way, I use humor to exaggerate a point so we can all see it. So I find humor to be a magnifying, so I can magnify and go, look, are we okay with this? And so I told a friend, I was busy. I was so busy last week, so busy. And then my screen time was 13 hours on Instagram, and I was like, oh, I didn't know I was working. I didn't know I like a 13 hour week job. I was like, what did they let me check my bank account? What did they pay? Oh zero. They paid me zero going on. Oh, not only did they pay me zero, they also were trying to sell me things the entire 13 hours. What you have to understand is that your phone is a mall that also makes phone calls.

That's it. It's a mall. Your entire, other than the calculator, everything on your phone is trying to sell you something. So true. And we go like, no, it's a tool. It's how, no, it's not. It is a hundred percent not. And so you have to look at Instagram that way. I had a clip that went viral where I was like, even dating apps don't want you to get married, because that breaks their algorithm. Their goal is you have a hundred meaningless hookups. That is their goal. No one at that office is judged on long lasting marriages. There's not a single executive that goes that people find love. Did they quit our app and find love? That's what, no, they want you to subscribe, hook up with a bunch of idiots for 10 years and then be like, it's weird. I didn't find love. And so you have to look at your phone, in my opinion, as a beautiful snake.

It is. It's gorgeous and it does a lot of stuff, but ultimately you're like, Hey, whoa, did you just bite me? It's like, oh, hey, my bad. I'm tempted. I don't have Apple Pay on my Instagram, connected to my Instagram because I buy too much stuff. We've removed all the friction for people. Drunk shopping is a multi-billion dollar industry in America. Wow. Multi-billion didn't exist 20 years ago because you would've had to say, it's midnight, you're feeling sad, you're binge shopping whatever, you're drunk. You would've had to get in the car and drunk drive, and you're like, ah, I better not do that. The stores wouldn't have been open. You could have even done it. Now people spend billions of millions of dollars every year in America drunk shopping because it's easy to click. So that's one of the things we teach our kids is add some friction between you and purchases and friction.

One example would be don't have Apple Pay connected Instagram because you're going to double click and buy something and you're not going to think about it all. So yeah, we talk about social media a lot. I mean, you talk about a distraction and we're the first generation growing up with it a hundred years from now, they're going to be like, I can't believe they did that. I don't know what that is going to be. But that's the other thing. We look back now on medicine a hundred years ago and we're like, I can't believe they drilled holes in people's heads to release the evil spirits when they had a headache. And you're like, yo, those dummies. And then we're doing stuff as foolish right now. We just don't know which things. Yeah,

Joey Odom (38:12):

It's so true. And I find you do have, it seems like you have good structures and systems in place, but I did, as I was reading, you were giving great advice. You were telling a story from your own life, you were giving great advice, but it seemed like you were advising yourself as well.

Jon Acuff (38:25):

All my books are, I have a problem. Let me see if I can solve it. Let me see if it works for me. Let me test it with a bunch of people. Let me see if a bunch of people have the problem. Then I'll create a book. So it's always like I go, man, I'm not good at finishing anything. And then I'm like, can I learn how to be a finisher? And then I write, finish or overthinking or distraction. I'm a very distracted person, and so I'm like, I wonder if I could and do it in a way that's fast and fun. I'm in the middle of a 400 page book on distraction. You reading it? If you write a 400 page book on distraction, you are a monster. You're going to tell a distracted person to sit through 400. That's not what we do. Your appendix was 80 pages. That felt too long. So I'm like, can I write a fast fun book about distraction? We'll see, I'll know in a year this week I could not this week I could not. We'll see in a year from now.

Joey Odom (39:20):

So you just mentioned your daughter's Apple Pay, putting some friction between, I would love to hear because your oldest daughter's in college. Yeah,

Jon Acuff (39:31):

20 and

Joey Odom (39:31):

18. 2018. So they were coming up in, I mean really truly, even right now, it seems like we're getting from people like Jonathan Haidt and people like that, getting very good educations on how we should be handling our phones. But you were feeling your way through the darkness when they were 13, 12 when people were getting phones. What are ways that you demonstrated good technology for them, advise them on technology? What were some kind of

Jon Acuff (39:54):

Dude I was so, and the problem is when I have self-righteous thoughts, I can also get on stage and say them to a bunch of people. That's the challenge with my job. So I was like, my daughter's not getting a phone until she's 16. And I did a lot of those kind of mini sermons. And then when she was, I think 12 or 13, my wife was like, it's too bad she doesn't have a phone because she's the only girl in her small group that doesn't have one. And they all encourage each other all week with text messages and bible verses. So in my opinion, I had a person who didn't grow up with a cell phone's attitude about cell phones. So I was like, dude, just call on the home phone. Dude, we didn't even have a home phone.

Joey Odom (40:36):


Jon Acuff (40:37):

Home phone. And so we got her a phone sooner than I thought. But I look at it, not every kid should drive at 16. Some kids you're like, yeah, you need to drive at 17 and a half

Joey Odom (40:51):


Jon Acuff (40:52):

Same with phones. It's not one. So we had fairly mature kids. We didn't give them the whole internet all at once. There were stages. My daughter made PowerPoints about which social media platform she wanted to get. And so we gave her Instagram for Christmas. That's a great parent move, by the way. Wow. We printed the logo, cost me zero. And we were like, Hey, you can now be on Instagram. And she was thrilled. It's such a fun quote gift. So I think the big thing for me was it was sooner than I thought. And we talked about it a lot. That's the thing, parents, you can't treat it like a bike. If you give a kid a bike, you don't have to check in on the bike. You don't have to be like, Hey, how's the bike going? Getting bullied on the bike ever. You seeing stuff you don't want to see on the bike. You don't have to do that. But when you give a kid social media or a phone or whatever, you have to be pretty constant on checking their text messages, checking. So that's the thing is it takes more involvement than I think. Yeah.

Joey Odom (41:53):

Yeah. I'm curious as we go more broadly on parenting. What are some things with your daughters that you think you and Jenny nailed that you did, that you did great, and then the antithesis certainly on, Hey, if we'd have done it differently, if we could do it over again, I wish we would've done this a little bit differently.

Jon Acuff (42:10):

One thing that Jenny said from the get-go was, we're not raising kids. We're raising adults. I love that. So we're not raising kids, we're raising adults. So we went in with that mentality. And the way I kind of frame that is if you want a kind 16-year-old teach a 6-year-old kindness and give 'em 10 years of practice, oh God, that's good. And so at two, at three, at four, at five, we're like, oh no, this is a practice adult moment. We're not going to wait for the first time they hear the word no to be. When they're 26 at a job and they get fired, we're going to teach them the word no at two, at three, at four, at five. So I think we did that. I think we did that well. We taught them how to be outside. We were deliberate with, we hike, we can't, we're outside.

So that later, one of our rules is like don't spend a lot of time or soundtracks don't spend a lot of time with people whose only outdoor activity is drinking. They are boring people. Boring people. And it catches up with 'em in their thirties. A brunch can be great, tailgating pig can be great, but not if it's only purpose is day drinking. So we're like, go find kayakers. Go find hikers. Go find walkers. We were deliberate about having them in outdoor activities where a phone couldn't be present. When you're kayaking, you can't really have your phone. So when you're hiking or you're camping, there's no signal. So we were deliberate to do activities that remove the phone. And so we were deliberate about that. And then we just did a ton of teachable lessons. We say stuff all the, one thing we said a lot is, if your legs and your car work, don't DoorDash.

I tell them, I can't afford DoorDash and I am 48 and I've done some stuff. I'm not rich by any means, but technically I could, but I wouldn't give Taco Bell a $7 tip. But this generation is like, no, I DoorDash McDonald's. And I'm like, are you out of your mind? Are you rich? Are you a millionaire that you can buy a $19 big? I can't. And I have a four one K. So we tell them stuff like that. So part of parenting for us is like, that's dumb. Don't do that. And we talk about that. We say that over and over and over again. We'll be like, Hey, don't DoorDash, and we give them practical stuff. When you're older, use a crockpot at least once a month. You're going to need to just be silly stuff that you're like, that's so specific. And we're like, yeah.

Or one that people got mad, a little mad at me online about was we say, you are never the solution to any man's problem at a gas station or on the side of the highway. If a man tries to come up to you and go, Hey, I need your help. He is weaponizing your empathy and you need to shut it down. Dang. Because you are a young woman. Any man that goes like, oh, I got a problem. This young woman will fix it. No, shut it down. And so we are talking, there's little things like that that we're like, Hey, when you're at a gas station, or hey, if you get a flat tire, drive as safe as you can to the next exit. Rims are replaceable. You're not, we don't want you pulling over on the side of the highway. And we're constantly kind of like, okay, hey, remember this thing.

Remember this thing. And so we did a lot of that. What we didn't do well, I look back now and I know one of my big mistakes, I wish I hadn't criticized certain careers because now they don't want to do those careers. Interesting. So there were certain careers that I know I said, yeah, but man, you're going to be poor. Or man, it's going to make it hard. It's hard to live on that or man. And now as they get older and I go, I think you'd be a really good if it's that thing, they go, no, but I don't want to struggle. I don't want to. And so I wish, as a dad, I had never brought in what money certain careers make because I think it gave them an opinion of a career that now is really hard to undo. Yeah. So that's one a specific mean, but that's one that I totally know. I would do that again.

Joey Odom (46:12):

It is amazing the stuff that you may even say off the cuff that, and for you maybe off the A cuff. Off the A cuff, thank you. Yeah, thank you. If I patent that, I'll let you know. Thank you. Yeah, sure. But that you say that your kids, that becomes gospel. Oh, that's gospel that they hold onto forever. That's something that I asked my son plays tennis, and I asked me the other day, I was like, man, why don't you ever look up in the stands whenever you're playing? And after a good shot, look up at me. He's like, dad, you told me when I was six that those kids were whiny or something like that. And I was like, oh, okay. Oh great.

Jon Acuff (46:48):

Here's a multi-year statement I'm putting into your head.

Joey Odom (46:50):

Yeah, exactly.

Jon Acuff (46:51):

No. So that's one that I can definitely go, oh man, I wish I'd been more careful with criticizing things that maybe me later they'd want to do. Right.

Joey Odom (47:01):

Your daughters, as we mentioned, one's in college, one is a senior in high school. What are some things in that transitional process? So someone who has middle to upper high school kids. So Heath has two seniors and a sophomore. I have a freshman and eighth grader, and he has seventh graders as well. But the kids in high school, what did you do to transition them well into that and they go to school out of state and all that stuff? That's an amorphous question. I haven't been through it yet, but it seems that's something I'm kind of looking down the barrel

Jon Acuff (47:28):

Of. Oh yeah, totally. Dunno what to do. One thing my wife said often was, it's a celebration, not a death. We as parents, there's a lot. They gaslight you so hard. Senior year of high school, a million times they ago, this is your last bagel. We're doing our last bagel breakfast at the school. And you're like, my kid never ate a bagel all four years of high school. Now they're weepy about their last bagel. So they do all this, we're like, this is the last. They put a ton of pressure as if you won't see them again. And then they're like, are you sad? Oh, it's so hard. And Jenny was like, no, it's a launch. This is what we want to happen. This was the goal. It's sad if something prevents them from moving to the next level, even if the next level is completely different.

I don't think every kid should go to college. I think there's a ton of awesome entrepreneur paths or job paths, but we were really deliberate about not creating a season of mourning when they left, but rather launching them and going, no, this is a celebration. This is amazing. This is what we worked for all our, and we do that same thing. We did that with kindergarten. Jenny's like, I'm not crying when you get on the kindergarten because you want to ruin a kid's first day of kindergarten. Let their last view as they had to school be you weeping in the driveway. You know what crushes a kid making their parents cry and they go, oh man, I made my mom cry. Like, oh, she's so upset. She's bawling in the driveway. The kid doesn't know they're happy tears or what kind of, he's not processing that.

He just knows I got in this big, pretty loud monster of a school bus and my mom is weeping. Cry inside. It's good. Yeah. So we are really deliberate about, it's a launch. It's a launch. It's a launch. And then just doing the work of the little things of phone calls I have on my goal list every week. I'm like, call Ellie, she's at school, and it'll be easy for days to stack up. And then Jenny, we put our schedule on our phone. So now the next level is you have Life 360 or find my phone. You can see, oh, they're walking across campus and I look at their schedule and they're in between classes. I can call then versus going. They never talk to me. When did you call? During chapter meeting of the sorority. Yeah. They're not answering their phone. They're not supposed to have their phone with them.

So being involved at that level has been really, really helpful for us. And then just allowing one of our, I felt the richest I've ever felt when she brought seven friends home at fall break and our spot was where they went. And I was like, oh, we're billionaires. We're billionaires. Because that was what we wanted to happen, that she was like, oh, my parents, they can host. And so I was like, oh, that's the kind of success I want long term, where Andy Stanley says, you want your kids to hang out with you and they don't have to. That's it. And so I was like, all right, well, that's an example of that. So I think that, and then also just helping them with the stress of it. The first six weeks of college are insane. They're insane. There's so many activities. There's so much moving pieces depending on the school you go to.

There's a rush right away. At big state schools, they don't have enough housing and a lot of them, so you have to figure out your roommate for the next year by the ninth week. So now you're like, okay, I have to know. I mean, you guys live in Knoxville. I mean, housing in Knoxville is challenging. And so there's all these stresses. So I think as a parent, not launching them in the sense of like, okay, we did it. Now they're on their own. But going, no, that first semester, there's a lot of touch points. There's way more touch points than you think. And then also being involved in their decisions and not going, well, they're 18 now, so this is the, but instead going, oh yeah, one of my pet peeves is at least where we live, Williamson County. I'll have people go, I'm not going to buy my kid a nice card.

I'm sending him to college with a beater. And I'm like, that's a weird flex. Why would I send my most precious asset, Ellie and McCray to college in a car that's going to break down on the side of the highway to teach them a lesson that if they haven't learned to buy 18, they're not learning it then. Yeah, that's right. I want you on the side of the road going, you got to work hard for the value of a dollar. I might get raped out here and killed, but my dad wanted to teach me a lesson. He wants me to know how to, that is such a dumb idea in my opinion. So no, we're going to give them a reliable car. We didn't give them something fancy. But yeah, I'm sending her to college in a car that if she's in downtown Birmingham with friends, isn't going to break that.

Joey Odom (52:03):

That's crazy.

Jon Acuff (52:04):

And so that kind of stuff, I think parents where they go, and again, if your kid is spoiled, completely different thing. But if you got a responsible kid at 18, 19, 20, you're not ruining them by giving them a safe car. That's a crazy idea to me. It's so true. And they're like, no, I want them to struggle. I struggle. I'm like, okay, I guess. Or I could say, Hey, let's be part of this. How do we figure this out? How do we come alongside you? And so those are the kind of things we think about. Yeah,

Joey Odom (52:34):

I love that. And that's helpful. It's that very practical stuff that not everybody's thinking about. And again, and in some ways you're almost trying to, it's almost like people are trying to make up for that, oh, I may have missed this and now I need to do something. All of a sudden I do want to talk about all it takes as a goal. Came out in September of last year, and it's fantastic. The most comforting line was right in the beginning where you said that you weren't reliving up your full potential until you're 45 years old. You realized which was so, which at 43 felt really good. Oh, yeah. And that's not a flex again. You got two more years. Years. That's right. I got two more years. But will you walk us through that a little bit? And whether it's, by the way, for those, even if it doesn't touch on it, the vision wall myth and the best moments list and the three zones, it's for those who have heard about goals, this reframes it in a really, really digestible way. So will you hit us with a little bit of that?

Jon Acuff (53:25):

Yeah. So I mean, it started with going to college for a tour with my daughter and my wife, Jenny and I both went to the same school and she was

Joey Odom (53:33):

Bow Bulldogs. Yeah,

Jon Acuff (53:34):

There you go, Sanford, let's go. Let's go. And she was like, wasn't college amazing? And I was like, no, it was terrible. It was a train wreck because I didn't make much of college. I was just an idiot in a variety of ways. And so when we drove home to Nashville, I had just written soundtracks. So I knew that broken soundtrack would take root, and I'd listened to it for a long time, or I could flip it. And I was like, what if I didn't make the best of college, but I made the best going forward. College was four years. I got 40 maybe ahead of me or 50 maybe ahead of me. So that's where I got curious about living up to my own potential. And I was mid forties, and then I did a survey with this PhD named Mike Peasley. We asked 3000 people if they feel like they're living up to their potential, and 96% said no.

So that's one of my other, I figure out, do I have a passion to write about something and then I figure out that people need it? And I was like, oh, okay. I think people might need this. So that's what launched this whole thing. And the big one of the core principles is you build a goal ladder. Most people in life when they have a goal, they have a 12 foot ladder with only two rungs, and the top rung says, make a hundred thousand dollars, or start a podcast or write a book or move to Knoxville or whatever. And the bottom rung says First step, and they don't. And then there's just a 12 foot gap, and you go, how do I get to the top of that? And so the book's really about putting some rungs on that ladder so that it's easy to climb to it.

And it ends with, okay, guaranteed goals at the very top of what I call guaranteed goals. And I always tell people, I couldn't have written that in book one because I didn't know it existed, and it would've just been hype. But on book nine, on book 10, this is how I've written a bunch of books, is that books aren't magic. Books are just goals and goals have steps, and you can climb this ladder in some easy intuitive ways. And that's what the book's about is how do you get from where you are right now to the top of that ladder, whether that's lose weight, pay off debt, whatever. There's steps. And the steps can be easy.

Joey Odom (55:32):

So good. Everybody needs to get a copy of All It Takes is a goal and soundtracks and about eight other books. Very last question. How have you controlled in terms of controlling your emotion? And this is a totally theoretical situation. If a guy who plays for a college like Kansas is going up for a layup and happens to get hypothetical and just hypothetical, and then a player from a college like Sanford chases him down, chases him down, and makes one of the best blocks ever, but then gets called for a foul. How would someone like you handle your emotions in that situation?

Jon Acuff (56:05):

Righteously. Righteous. Yeah, righteous anger. Not all anger's bad. That's right. I would use righteous anger in that situation.

Joey Odom (56:12):

Jesus in the temple just turned over tables. Right? Exactly.

Jon Acuff (56:14):

At the injustice of it. It's okay. That's a healthy emotion. I wouldn't bottle it up. I'd share it on Instagram. How about that? That's

Joey Odom (56:21):

What therapist say.

Jon Acuff (56:22):

Therapist say, don't bottle, put it online. Put it,

Joey Odom (56:24):

Put it on the ground. I'm pretty

Jon Acuff (56:25):

Sure that's a

Joey Odom (56:25):

Book. I think you're

Jon Acuff (56:26):

Right, Billy Graham. I said that I think,

Joey Odom (56:29):

Well, the good news is this has been a delicious Popsicle of a conversation. The bad news is you lost DoorDash as a sponsor. I did, but

Jon Acuff (56:37):

What are they going to sponsor?

Joey Odom (56:39):

That's a good point. They could have waived the delivery fees for, they could have done, I don't know. But yeah, you've lost them though. They've

Jon Acuff (56:44):

Gone, I think I've used in my entire life. I think I used Uber Eats twice, and I picked it up sponsor. I didn't even have 'em drive. I picked it up. That's such an old man thing now that I think about it.

Joey Odom (56:55):

Wait, how do you pick up Uber? I don't understand. I

Jon Acuff (56:57):

Went to a restaurant. I was traveling for doing the Lord's work out in the country once again.

Joey Odom (57:02):


Jon Acuff (57:02):

Once again, constantly. There was a restaurant and I went to do a takeout and I had to go through Uber Eats and somebody had given me a gift card. They didn't know me well, so did it. And I went and picked it up. So I've never, that's funny. I honestly can't think a single time. Wow. Yeah. So maybe I'm Amish.

Joey Odom (57:26):

Well, you know what you could have just picked up as a sponsor is progressive. That is a progressive commercial. What you just described, picking up the Uber Eats. Oh yeah, it is.

Jon Acuff (57:33):


Joey Odom (57:33):

Dude, that's, that's

Jon Acuff (57:34):

Good. I am my parent.

Joey Odom (57:36):


Jon Acuff (57:36):

The other old man thing I do is that sometimes I'll print out my boarding pass,

Joey Odom (57:41):

Oh, come on

Jon Acuff (57:42):

From home on my home printer. What am I a thousand? Who does that? And my wife is like, you can just use the app. I'm like, eh, don't trust it. Don't

Joey Odom (57:55):

Trust computers. Yeah.

Jon Acuff (57:57):

One of my phone dies right as I'm in line. She's like, oh my. Yeah. But owning a computer is an old person thing, or owning a printer is an old person thing. And then, yeah, printing your boarding pass out at home.

Joey Odom (58:09):

That's fantastic. That's a thousand

Jon Acuff (58:11):

Years old.

Joey Odom (58:11):

Dude, Jon, you're the best man. Thank you for joining us. This was awesome. Appreciate it. And everybody go, everybody go get some books and follow him at Jon Acuff or go to jonacuff.com. We'll put all this in the show notes. Thank you, brother. Yeah, thanks for having me. Appreciate you, man. Jon said something in that interview that I've been repeating multiple times and was this idea of I can do that. When you see somebody who does something great or when you see somebody who makes an epic mistake failure decision, it's just this reminder, I can do that too, that we're all capable of those things. I really, really like that. That's just one nugget, many nuggets of wisdom in there. I do hope you feel like you're not the worst mother on the planet. He told you who was, and then this idea that the phone is a beautiful snake.

What a great line. Will you go pick up one of Jon's books, soundtracks. My son Harrison is reading that book right now. It's a great book. All of his other ones really have, again, this blend of humor and wisdom all kind of mixed together. Will you go pick up a copy of one of his books? They really are great, such great wisdom, humor. You're going to enjoy them. It's going to add a lot to you for you and your kids. Thank you so much for joining us this week on The Aro Podcast. I know you Jon Acuff. We had a great one. Again next week. We can't wait to see you then. The Aro Podcast is produced and edited by the team at Palm Tree Pod co. Special thanks to Emily Miles for video and digital support, and to our executive producer Aro's own, Katelyn Farley.