To live a Legendary life is to live a life of purpose. To live a Legendary life is to live a life of meaning. To live a Legendary life is to live in a way that will leave the world better than we found it.
These aren’t teachings extracted from ancient Eastern scripture. They are, rather, ideologies of WSJ and USA Today Best-Selling Author, Tommy Breedlove.
With slick black hair and a smile that could soften even the most calloused of hearts, at first glance, the young and knowledgeable Breedlove appears more like someone you would trust to run your company’s accounting department than someone who you would consult for introspective life advice. However, as soon as Breedlove starts talking, you know you’ll be leaving the conversation with a nugget or two of advice. While the assumptions based on his appearance are not far off, due to his prior experience as a Partner at a large accounting and finance firm, his enthusiasm and zest for life are what separate him from his past.
How Breedlove Came to Be
In our hour-long discussion, Breedlove bounced from story to story, drawing from experiences that sound almost like a scripted movie. He has lived many lives, lives that serve almost as a contradiction to each one that preceded it.
As a child from a blue-collar family in South Atlanta, Breedlove was the first in his family that was slated to go to college – UGA on a full-ride scholarship, at that. However, by his 18th birthday he had become “the person he always hated”. Smart, ambitious, but unable to shed himself of the abuse that surrounded him, he, too, found himself bullying others. It didn’t take long for the system to catch up to him before he was incarcerated.
At 19 years old, Tommy had hit rock bottom. Three short years later, he was climbing towards, what he thought at the time to be, the pinnacle of his career. He credits his deviation from the path of further destruction to a former gang member in the South Atlanta Jail. It was he who mentored Breedlove and helped him realize his potential and held him accountable.
Armed with sage advice and ready to tackle the world, Breedlove went from a jail cell, to a nuclear waste facility job, to UGA, to a top accounting firm all within three years. From there, he chased the impossible. He was drunk on the promises of success – respect, fame, power, money, external affirmations – which led him to dedicate more time and more work to his company. By 36, Tommy was flying high on his accomplishments – he had the nice car, the corner office, the prestigious title, and the inflated paycheck to match. With each career advancement came more resentment from those closest to him. At 37, after an event that left him feeling particularly deflated, Tommy decided to go on a journey to figure out who he was, where he was going, and who he wanted to be. Looking back now, he says, this was the transformational moment that would eventually inspire him to walk away from the corporate world.
For many, the story would have ended here, with someone continuing to climb the corporate ladder and just choosing to be a better person along the way. For Tommy, though, he knew that wasn’t enough. Just shy of 40, Tommy abandoned it all – his ownership in the firm, his title, his seat on the board of directors – in pursuit of becoming a true Legendary human.
Breedlove credits self-investment to the metamorphosis of his life. Once Tommy started to dedicate just one to two hours a day to his emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health – with the help of coaches, mentors, and masterminds – his life started to get exponentially better. He wasn’t the only one, though, who took notice.
Executives, managers, clients, bankers, and colleagues started to gravitate towards Tommy and seek his advice. They recognized that he was living in a way that was truer to himself. After 10 to 15 people had asked Tommy what his secret was, he knew he had a true calling.
He admits, even now, that he had no idea what that calling was, but he knew he needed to make a break for it and transition out of the accounting and finance world. It took a lot of courage to leave the only career he had ever known, but on Valentine’s Day, he called his wife and told him he was leaving the firm.
The word Legendary, as it pertains to life, is quite an abstract concept, but Tommy works hard every day to solidify its meaning through his mastermind events, retreats, interviews, and of course, his book, appropriately titled “Legendary”. When asked what Legendary means to him he plotted both elbows on his desk and explained,
“Our time is ours. We’re not caught up in the busy-ness of life. We control our time. We work to master our mindset. It’s a life with intimate relationships. It’s about living a life of unconditional love and self-respect for ourselves so we can love and respect others. It’s a holistic way of living your life with purpose and meaning, and it’s mastering your mindset and building your way towards wealth. It’s leaving this planet a little better than you found it.”
In simpler terms, a friend told him that he “makes the powerful good and the good powerful.”
While Tommy has become a craftsman in relationships (both internal and external) and mindset, he says that small efforts today and lead to a legendary life. Just like the saying that Rome wasn’t built in a day, a legendary human isn’t, either. The first thing you can do, right now, is set an obtainable goal. Do you want to better your relationships? Minimize your internal voice? Do you want to build a great network? Do you want to have a better handle on your time? Eventually, by reading Tommy’s book and following his steps, you’ll be able to do all of these things, but for now, it’s best to focus on one thing at a time! The goal is to start small and work to be better than you were yesterday. Once you master one subject, you can start to tackle another.
To dive deeper into actions you can take, consider purchasing Legendary at your local bookstore, or on your Kindle or Nook. If you’re not ready to commit, you can read the “Mastering Your Mindset” chapter for free on his website.
Tommy admitted, with a chuckle, that he’s very passionate about this subject, but that wasn’t a doubt in my mind based on the way his eyes illuminated throughout our discussion. As his business continues to grow, he’s eager to be able to touch the lives of many others. Currently, Tommy runs a retreat called “Legendary Life Retreat” that gives driven and ambitious people a way to connect – these people ultimately become the people who hold you accountable for your goals. He hosts up to twelve a year and they are open to anybody.
When Breedlove isn’t busy transforming people’s lives, he continues to work on himself with the help of his mentors, network, and books, of course. His top three favorite books are Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level by Gay Hendricks, and Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Before we parted, he left me with some of his favorite advice: “Rich people have money and wealthy people have time.” All it takes is one small change today to turn your life from ordinary to Legendary.