Episode 16: Impact Freedom

How to make a difference in this world.

Many people have one goal in life: To make money! 

But why is it that for so many of us who become successful, we are still unhappy and unsatisfied with life?

In this episode, host Niel Malan explains how he overcame this struggle by realising that what he really wanted in life was to make a difference in people’s lives and to empower them. 

He also looks at how others can change to have the freedom to make a difference in this world.

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Hey guys, Niel Malan here. Welcome to the Elite Entrepreneurs Show episode number 16 where I’m going to talk to you today about impact freedom. If you are just tuning in, we started on episode number 12, a series on freedom. On the first episode, I spoke about the concept of freedom and why it is important. We have been building on it ever since. We spoke about financial freedom, we spoke about location freedom, we spoke about time freedom in the previous one, and today I’m going to talk to you about a really cool concept called impact freedom.

If you are listening on podcast, you are going to get a lot of ambient noise. I’m still at the coast and I’m actually on a very long extended walk and I’m having a lot of fun shooting these for you guys. But if you hear a bit of ambient noise, just bear with me, it’s a little bit of a different location where I’m shooting this. Those of you guys watching, welcome back to the rest of my walk. So let’s dive straight in. I’m going to tell you guys a story real quick.

When I was a kid, I had one goal and that was to make money, that was to create wealth and that’s because I felt poor. I’ve told this story on previous episodes. When I was 23 years of age, I was able to buy my first business. When I became 26 years of age, I became a millionaire. I had a million bucks. I also became miserable. I realized that I was just unhappy and it was a very early existential crisis to have as a young man. Imagine working your whole life for something, finding it, getting it and then realizing it doesn’t make you happy.
That was the experience that I had. Now, whenever I tell this story to people, people will say, “Niel, it’s fine. I’ll take the money anyway”.

The thing is, it wasn’t the money that made me unhappy, it was just that I thought that’s where I’m going to find happiness and I didn’t. I found all sorts of other things, but I didn’t find happiness. I had this crisis and I was miserable. I’ll never forget the morning. I woke up one morning and I took stock of everything in my life. At that point I had two houses. I had a massive 23-foot boat that I used to go skiing with. I had two jet skis. I had two cars. I had a business that was running on its own with an hour or two a week of my time required, more money than I knew what to do with, girlfriends, friends, yet I was miserable. Let me tell you something, I felt guilty. I felt really guilty. Like how on earth can you lead a life of such privilege and you are still not happy? How dare you!
I was really hard on myself. I was like, “Dude, this is terrible. How can you have all this stuff and you are not happy?”

Any case, so I needed to find your answer. So I read this book by Tony Robbins called Awaken the Giant Within. This book was one of the best books on personal development that I’ve ever read. It sent me on a path of discovering what it is that I’m truly excited about in life, which is to make a difference in people’s lives. When I read that book, I devoured it in a weekend – it’s a thick book if you’ve ever read it. If you haven’t, I suggest you read it, Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins. I read this book and I devoured it. At the end of that weekend when I devoured it, I realized this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to empower people. I want to make a difference in this world. And that’s what I’ve done ever since.

Let me tell you something. I found that every time I set my sights on helping someone else, my level of fulfilment in life improves. In fact, I first discovered this when I was running that very same gym. I couldn’t just change career and become a speaker, so some of my friends started coming to me and saying, “Niel, can you ask me to run my business better?”
I was quite good at sales and marketing, always. So I said, “Sure, no problem”. So what I did was I helped some of my friends and every time their businesses got better, I became happier. I started feeling more fulfilled. I thought to myself, how interesting is that? Doing free labour makes you happy. I didn’t really think about it like that, but if you think about it… I realized that fulfilment comes from being focused on something larger than yourself, because that’s where I was.

I was very focused on my own, I guess, self-esteem, my own ego. You know, I was… Why did I have all those trappings, the cars and things?
I think I was trying to prove my own manhood. I was trying to prove who I am.

Look, it’s not a bad thing. I think as a young man, young woman, you want to stake your claim in this world. You want to develop your own sense of worth, your own sense of being capable. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, but the problem was I didn’t find happiness in it.

So I started finding fulfilment in assisting other people to do better. Initially, I did it by helping people, my friends, helping them to run better companies. Later on, obviously, changed career and I became a business coach in the year 2000 as a result of enjoying helping people so much. I’ve done that ever since. It’s now 19 years. It has been an incredible journey.

During that time I’ve made more money. I’ve lost a lot, several times. I’ve gone into relationships, went through a divorce. Now I’m in a relationship with the dream woman, Candy. I’ve been in tremendous health. I have been in poor health. A lot has changed. But the one thing that has never changed is a level of fulfillment that I experience because my vocation is to help other people. I can tell you it’s one of the most beautiful things that you can introduce into your life, is the way, a way to make a meaningful impact on people. I know that you are the kind of person that wants to make a bigger difference in this world. I know you are the kind of person who wants to make a bigger difference in this world. And that’s part of the reason why you are a learner. There is a part of you that wants to make a bigger impact in this world, isn’t it?

So how does this relate to freedom? Well, it relates to freedom to make a difference. You see, deep down inside all of us, I believe that there is something that calls us to make the world better. I really believe that. I think there is something deep inside of all of us that causes us to make a difference in other people’s lives, to improve something for someone else and for ourselves, and to the degree that we follow the calling, to the degree that we do that, to that degree, we find happiness, we find true genuine fulfillment. But we have to heed the call.

In this episode, I want to deal with something intensely practical, which is what all of us can become a motivational speaker or an author. I mean, it’s just not possible. So how do you do it? How do you find a way to have that impact? How do you find a way to make that difference in this world when it’s not your vocation? Well, there are several things that you can do. The first is to decide to do it. It’s going to sound very simple, but you know, I think if you really truly internalize the idea that there is fulfilment, there is something in it for you, by helping other people, I think you will approach the subject differently. You will find ways to actually go and do it.

But there are lots of ways that you can do it. You can make a bigger difference in this world by just being more present with your kids and with your family. They say charity begins at home. I think that’s a great place to start.

I think the way we engage with our coworkers and our colleagues. Sometimes people haven’t had someone listen to them, truly listen to them for years. Imagine a conversation where someone asks you how you are doing and they are not waiting to respond with their own story and their own life or waiting to dive into a meeting. Imagine they truly listen and actually ask about your own life and they really care. Wouldn’t that be cool? Sometimes just giving someone more of your time, more of a… yeah, is a great way to make a bigger difference in this world.

You know, being helpful. If people are stuck on something and you’ve got a skill that you can help them with, that’s one way of doing it. You can start teaching. You can do a podcast. A podcast is free. I mean, what I’m doing here right now. I’m on a walk for heaven’s sakes with a swarm of bugs all around me, but I’m feeling grateful. I’m feeling really grateful that I’m in a beautiful place with beautiful people. It’s a natural thing that I feel like doing and sharing it with you guys and sharing some of my thoughts and ideas. You can do that. There is nothing stopping you from doing it.

You can also choose to go into a business where you can make a difference in people’s lives. One of the things we find when people start a digital business, the ones we help start a freelance digital agency, is that it’s incredibly rewarding to help small business owners grow their own companies. It’s deeply fulfilling to be the reason why someone else is more successful than what they would have been without you. So many of our team members, so many of our graduates, apologies, become student coaches. They become program leaders and they find more fulfilment in doing that than what they’ve ever had in their whole lives because they have got an opportunity to make a difference. Isn’t that wonderful?

Another way is if you are not in a position to start your own company or if you don’t want to, join a team of people that’s making a difference. Like if I look at Elite Inc., we get literally thousands of applications for people to join our company, thousands. I’m not exaggerating when I say that. I always laugh when I say it’s one of the hardest things you will do in your life is to get a job at Elite Inc. Part of the reason is we’ve got many choices. Why? Why are people so passionate about our business? Why are they so passionate about joining our tribe? It’s because every single one of our team members gets to make a difference, every single one. We give them the opportunity to come up with ideas and concepts and ways and methods of impacting people’s lives. Every single one of our team members every day has the privilege of waking up in the morning knowing why they are waking up.

You can join a company like that or like ours. If you currently run a business, you can become that company. You don’t have to wait. You don’t have to wait. You can manufacture ball bearings, but you can be the ball bearing manufacturer that changes people’s lives by the way you work with your team members, by the way you work with your employees, by the way you empower people. You see, the thing is you don’t have to wait. You don’t have to wait to make an impact. You can start today. You can find opportunities in front of you right now that can empower people and can make a difference and that can put someone else in a better position than what they were today before they started with you. You can start today.

But it starts with an attitude. It starts with the realization that a part of freedom, a big part of freedom, is impact freedom. What the hell is impact freedom? Impact freedom is the freedom and ability to impact people, to make a difference in this world. Let me tell you something. Every person, deep down inside wants this, but they’ve never really chosen a vehicle for how to do it. And that’s part of where people feel stuck. It’s part of where people feel sometimes a bit constrained in life, is their ability to make an impact.

I want to encourage you to find a way to reach more people and then more people and more people, and to reach them in an even more impactful way. And to make that part of your freedom, to make that a part of your freedom plan in life, to just find better ways constantly of helping people to achieve their goals and helping people to improve their own lives. Because true fulfilment can only be found when you give people the opportunity to improve their own lives. There is nothing that will give you a deeper sense of self-worth. There is nothing that will give you a sense of fulfilment, more than this.

One of the reasons why I advise people to create wealth even if they themselves aren’t very financially driven, is so that they can make a bigger impact in this world. You see, the thing is, if your parents or your children or someone close to you needs aid and you don’t have the money, your ability to have impact in this world is limited.
If you can’t get to the projects that are important to you because you don’t have the time, then your ability to have impact is limited. So you can see all of these different freedoms work together. Financial freedom is really important because the more you have, the more you can give, you know, the more you can contribute towards charitable causes, the more you can start a business that can make an impact in this world. The more you can… the more you’ve got to give. It’s your responsibility to create abundance for yourself so that you can create abundance for other people.

I want you to really contemplate it with this episode. What is the difference that I want to make? I want you to go to our show page on our blog www.eliteinc.com/16 and I want you to scroll down to the comments and I want you to participate in the conversation. What is the difference that you want to make in this world? If you could have unlimited ability to make an impact in this world, how would you do it? What would you want to do? Are you the kind of person that would want to plant trees? Are you the kind of person that’s more into animals, that wants to have an animal shelter? Do you feel passionate about children or about topics like women abuse? What is your chosen area? Maybe it’s not a charity, maybe it’s just empowering entrepreneurs; maybe it’s just working with people on relationships. What is your area of interest where you want to make a difference in this world? What is the area where you want to have more impact?

I think then an even more important question is, how do you expand your reach? How can you reach more people by changing your environment, by changing your setup, by changing your relationship with time and money and location and so forth? What is the relationship between your ability to impact the world and all the other freedoms? I would love to hear from you and I would love to know what you think about this topic of impact freedom. So go to www.eliteinc.com/16 and scroll down to the comments section and let us know.

As always, those of you guys who like watching on YouTube, please remember to subscribe to our channel. Those of you guys who like listening on podcast, please remember to also subscribe to the channel and give us a rating if you are happy with the show. Those of you guys looking for a stepping stone to get into digital, to get into a business that has all the freedoms built into it and the ability to impact people, go to www.eliteinc.com/16 and schedule a complimentary 15-minute call with one of my team members. Let’s see if we can help you.

Guys, as always, thank you so much for tuning in. I don’t take your time for granted. I really appreciate you guys also always commenting on the blog and all the love that we are getting and all the input and all the questions that we are getting. I do look at them personally. I might not always have the time to respond, but I always look at them. So thank you so much for your contribution and I look forward to seeing you guys real soon on episode number 17.