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Donald Miller

A Path to a Meaningful Life

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23 Min.

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Hero on a Mission by Donald Miller is a guide for finding your purpose and using it to make a positive impact on the world. With storytelling and practical advice, it's a must-read for those who want to leave a lasting legacy.


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    You can choose which character you play in your life story.

    It’s often said that life is a journey, but the author, entrepreneur Donald Miller, believes that life is actually a story. Our own personal life stories contain a cast of characters, some good and some not so good. It might be an uplifting and inspiring story, or it might be bleak and sad. You get to decide what sort of story you want your life to be, because you are the author.

    The idea that you have the power to write your own life story can be difficult to wrap your head around. Perhaps you feel like you don’t have the power to control anything in your life. Instead, things just happen to you. If this sounds familiar, then you’re probably acting out the role of victim in your story. The victim is the character who life knocks around and treats unfairly. Instead of reaching for better things, the victim feels hopeless to change their situation. The best they can hope for is that a hero will come along and rescue them. 

    Donald Miller has a lot of sympathy for life’s victims, because, as a young man, he used to be a victim himself. He slept on a crusty old pull-out bed in a tiny rented room. He dreamed of being a writer, but instead of doing anything about it, he spent his days staring at the dingy carpet of his apartment, waiting for inspiration to come along and pull him out of his slump. The best word to describe victimhood is passive. Like Miller, victims passively wait for something, or someone, to save them. Victims don’t want to write their own stories; instead, they leave it up to fate. 

    As a young man, Donald Miller wasn’t just playing the role of victim in his story; he was playing the villain, too. Villains are characters who make others feel small. This need to hurt people often comes from unresolved pain in the villain’s childhood. Just think about how many of the baddies in movies have a scar across their face, or some other notable injury. That’s no coincidence; these injuries hint at inner wounds that the villain hasn’t resolved. 

    Donald Miller’s villainous energy manifested itself through his cruel comments to his housemates. These housemates were nice guys who had their lives together, unlike himself. Because he was jealous of them, and sore about his own failings, he often belittled their hobbies, their jobs, and even the women they loved. Villains often get a lot of attention in the course of a good story, but they’re never the main character, and they’re always sidelined by the end. 

    So who is the main character of a great story? That honor belongs to the hero. Importantly, heroes actually have a lot in common with victims and villains. Like the villain, the hero also has a difficult childhood and, like the victim, life throws struggle and hardship their way. But the hero has a different reaction to pain and suffering. Rather than submitting to it, or trying to inflict it on others, the hero takes their pain and uses it to transform themselves. 

    By rising to overcome life challenges, they develop courage and grit, and earn their place as the story’s protagonist. Becoming a hero might sound daunting – but every heroic story begins with baby steps. Donald Miller, for instance, simply began writing a little, every day. Through this simple act, he transformed his life, and found a fulfilling career. 

    But as the saying goes, no man is an island. When it comes to your own heroic journey, you’ll get there faster if you get some help. This is where another character in your story comes in: the guide. The guide is usually someone a little older and wiser than you are, who has already been on their own heroic transformation. Guides use their experiences to help you on your way. On his journey to become a better writer, Miller looked for guidance from books by literary greats such as Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck. 

    Over the course of these blinks, we’ll take a look at how you can become a hero, and maybe even a guide, in your own story.

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    Worum geht es in Hero on a Mission?

    Hero on a Mission (2022) explores the role of story and meaning in our daily lives. It outlines how we can transition to a more heroic way of life, and reveals the underpinnings of a heroic mindset. 

    Wer Hero on a Mission lesen sollte

    • Those who feel life is passing them by
    • People who feel victimized and want to regain a sense of control
    • Anyone seeking to build resilience

    Über den Autor

    Donald Miller is a New York Times best-selling author. His books include Building a StoryBrand and Blue Jazz. Miller is also the CEO of personal development firm Business Made Simple. 

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