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  • In December 2010, I was doing a speaking tour in the Middle East and I had a day off in Qatar.

  • And I decided that I wanted to go dune-blasting

  • because the brochure in the hotel said that...

  • your guide will drive you over 100-foot sand cliffs at 70 mpr

  • But my favorite part of the brochure was that it said...

  • and then he will help keep you alive overnight in the desert.”

  • And then I said –“That sounds confident enough for me. Let’s do that!”

  • So I wandered out at 7 o’clock in the morning, and I meet my guide.

  • And it’s this man right here.

  • Now, this is the only time throughout the entire course of the day that he was not smiling.

  • Because he said the ladies like it when you look intense in photographs.

  • And then I walked towards this guy.

  • He jumps out of the car. And he throws his hands and he goes,

  • Mr. Dudley! Welcome to Mustafa’s Grand Adventure. I am Mustafa!”

  • And I want to match his energy,

  • so I idiotically went with this, “Mustafa, like the Lion King.”

  • (Sings Lion King melody)

  • And he’d like deadpan looks at me and goes, “That’s Mufasa.”

  • I see apparently he’s not gonna try that hard to keep me alive in the desert, right?

  • And then he gets this big grin and said, “I’m kidding. I’m kidding. Hop in.”

  • And this guy starts to talk.

  • And he starts to talk about what were going to learn from the desert.

  • He starts to talk about all he knows about Canada.

  • This man is just pouring energy out.

  • And this is seven o’clock in the morning.

  • And this is one hour non-stop.

  • And were outside the city and have fun and I just go, “Mustafaman - where do you get your energy?

  • You are the most upbeat dude that I’ve ever been with.”

  • And he looks at me with a huge smile and says, “It’s my first day! “

  • (Laughter)

  • Now I’m well aware that everyone has to start somewhere.

  • But when there are100-foot cliffs involved, I’d rather not be in the car with a newbie, right?

  • And I guess I looked terrified.

  • And he goes, “don’t worry. Don’t worry.It’s always my first day.”

  • And I said, “what do you mean?”

  • He goes, “think about it, on your first day, you dress your best.

  • You show up early.

  • You really, really try to impress your boss.

  • You are incredibly nice to your co-workers.

  • Youre never more committed to your job than you are on your first day.

  • As a matter of fact, you are never more convinced...

  • that this is going to be the greatest job that you've ever had that you are on your first day.

  • As soon as your second day starts,

  • all of that starts to stop being quite so true. “

  • He said, “13 years ago I started this job.

  • AndI loved it. And I knew that I was gonna love it.

  • And so I decided 13 years ago that I would never have a second day of work.

  • So it has been my first day for 13 years.”

  • And I was so inspired by that way of looking at life and work.

  • But what’s really weird was that just as quickly I kind of got depressed.

  • Because this was right after I quit my job.

  • And I loved my job.

  • But there had been this really intense inter-personal conflict

  • that has been going on for quite a while

  • And finally made me feel that I had to go.

  • And when I heard him talk about how much he loved his job,

  • I couldn’t help but start to think about everything that I felt like I had been pushed away from my mind.

  • Everything I helped to build, that I had to say goodbye to.

  • And everything that seemed to be like, torn apart.

  • And I start to think about the person that I held responsible for

  • And I got really quiet.

  • And he thought that he insulted me.

  • And he said, “Drew, I’m so sorry. Did I say something wrong?”

  • And I said, “no. Mustafa.”

  • And then I basically tell this complete stranger an incredibly personal story of my life’s conflict.

  • And he gets really quiet. He finally says,

  • Drew, this person that you are talking about. They are so far away.

  • They are so far away that it is night where they are, it is day where you are.

  • But you are letting them make it night where you are.

  • You are letting them wreck Mustafa’s Grand Adventure.

  • And they are not even here.

  • And what’s worse, you are acting like it’s their fault.”

  • I kind of got annoyed, “Well, it is their fault. I just told you the story.”

  • No, with respect, Drew. It’s your fault. Because you are letting live rent-free in your head.

  • He says, “think about it.

  • Think about a landlord.

  • A landlord will allow people to use their property

  • But they charge rent to make sure they get something valuable in return to protect their investment.

  • Your head and your heart are the most valuable pieces of property that you own.

  • If you are going to let people use them

  • You’d better make sure that you get something valuable in return.

  • All this person brings you is anger, bitterness and sadness.

  • None of those things are valuable to you.

  • But when you accept anger, bitterness and sadness in return for access to your head and your heart,

  • you are basically letting someone live there rent-free.”

  • And he saidDrew, the landlord sets the rent. Alright? You are the landlord.

  • You are not allowed to be angry when all you get paid is what you ask for.”

  • And this guy was dropping knowledge like that on me for 18 hours straight.

  • It was like going….honestly, it was like going dune-blasting with Yoda.

  • (Laughter)

  • And we talked a lot about the power of human connections that day.

  • When I think about what Mustafa said,

  • what I was reminded of, was that not everything to which we are connected, brings us value.

  • And unfortunately some of the most powerful connections that we allow ourselves to forge...

  • can actually be among our most limiting.

  • And I was a producer of a musical project once,

  • And one of the songs that was submitted have this set of lyrics that I’ve always remembered.

  • And they said, “There’s a difference between grounded, and run into the ground.

  • Some things keep you rooted, and some just weigh you down.

  • And you have to decide what you’d rather keep around…”

  • And I think that the ability to take a look at the connections in our lives,

  • And honestly ask ourselves, which of these things are keeping us rooted, and which of these things are weighing us down -

  • that’s an incredibly valuable skill to have.

  • In order to get the most out of the life, it’s gonna knock us around some times.

  • Because they are things that live rent-free in our heads.

  • And it’s not always people. It’s also failures. It’s also losses.

  • And it’s also these ideas that somewhere along the way we picked them up, and they start to limit us.

  • There’s one particular idea that has been living rent-free in way too many young people’s heads

  • that it has kind of become my passion to go after it.

  • For me,it started when I was working with a group of university students in a work shop,

  • And I asked what I thought was a completely innocuous question.

  • And I’m gonna ask some unfortunate person in the front row here as well.

  • You of one. Congratulations.

  • Are you ready?

  • You look so excited right now.

  • So let me ask you that question I asked that day:

  • Why do you matter?”

  • And that look of absolute terror is exactly what happened.

  • And I said okay.

  • Then I asked somebody else in the crowd, “Why do you matter?”

  • And I get that same look of confusion, and sort of fear.

  • And I started to ask that question.

  • And I’ve asked it to hundreds of university and college students all around the world.

  • And watching them struggle to answer has made me realize that...

  • there's this idea that’s been living rent-free in your head:

  • you are somehow training to matter right now.

  • And that one day when you get good enough marks, from good enough schools

  • and you make enough money from prestigious enough jobs,

  • then all of a sudden, then youll be ready to matter.

  • Everything that we are doing in the mean time is some sort of training session.

  • And I think we have got to evict this idea that...

  • the biggest impact you are going to have on the world is gonna come down the pipe later on.

  • We got to evict this idea that this is some sort oftraining to matter”.

  • You matter right now.

  • And weve also got to ask ourselves,

  • Can we call it an education when the best, the brightest, the smartest and the most well-educated young people in our countries freak out,

  • because no one has ever asked them –“Why do you matter?” before?

  • Because you do.

  • When I was 19 years old, my parents let me throw theEnd of High School Party”.

  • Like the one that has been on every teen comedy movie ever.

  • Half way through the party,

  • And I was leaning back against a cottage

  • And I saw two of my friends who were a couple, and they were all snuggled up, watching the sun goes down.

  • And I snapped a photograph of it.

  • And I leaned back against the cottage and got all bitter.

  • And I turned to my buddy Scott, who was sitting right next to me.

  • And I said, “Scott you know it sucks that I don’t have somebody like that.

  • You know, it really sucks. I’m so tired of always being alone.”

  • And Scotty, who’s that friend who’s the athlete and musician, the-perfect-balance-ofleft-brain-and-right brain guy.

  • Scotty looks at me and goes, “Drew, for a guy who’s got everything going for him...

  • all I ever hear from you is about what you don’t have.”

  • And I was not yet at the point in my life,

  • where I want my friends to tell me what I need to hear, as opposed to what I want to hear.

  • So I pushed back. And I said,“I don’t have everything going for me.

  • You know, all I have is pressure.

  • All I have is people telling me - make sure you keep getting those amazing marks.

  • And make sure that you live up to your potential.

  • All I feel like I have is an opportunity to disappoint everyone.

  • All I feel is like I have an opportunity to be a failure in front of everybody who believes in me.

  • And Scott looked at me for what seemed like a really long time.

  • And then he said, “Drew, youve got to give your friends more credit.”

  • He says, “we don’t care about you because the guy that you might be one day.

  • We care about you because of the guy that you are now.

  • I think you have to start to do the same thing.”

  • And that’s a piece of advice that has stuck with me for my entire life:

  • never diminish the person that you are in the name of this person that you think you are going to become one day.

  • And you know whatgive your friends more credit.

  • Because they are going to forgive you.

  • And the really true friends - I discovered as you get olderthe true friends in your life

  • they are the ones who judge you based on the person they know you are on an average Tuesday afternoon.

  • Not the person we are sometimes or were on Saturday nights.

  • But, unfortunately, only after a few weeks after Scott gave me that advice

  • He and my other friend, Tim, were actually killed in a car accident.

  • just outside of my hometown.

  • And Scotty was 18 years old.

  • And that was 16 years ago.

  • And I’m talking about what he taught me on a stage at a TED event, 16 years later.

  • Because he mattered.

  • And so do you guys.

  • After I’ve said good bye to Scott, I went off to university.

  • And I met this amazing guy.

  • Not to be stared as a typical Canadian,

  • but there is this hockey uniform.

  • His name was Jason Abraham.

  • Jason was one of the senior staff members at the bar that I ended up working at.

  • And everybody loves this guy.

  • He was one of the coolest guys on campus.

  • And I wanted to be cool, since I was old enough to know that I wasn’t - so like, four.

  • When I had to work, I said to Jason

  • How do you connect so easily to people?

  • How is it that people seem so drawn to you?”

  • And he said, “you know what,

  • I just try to keep it simple.

  • I think that you life is better the fewer times you put yourself in a position...

  • where you might feel forced to say ‘I’m sorry."

  • And if you want to pull unnecessary “I’m sorry”’ out of your life.

  • The easiest way to do it is this:

  • Every time you talk about somebody, act as if theyre standing directly behind you.

  • Your life just gets easier.”

  • Every time you talk about somebody, act as if theyre standing directly behind you

  • is may be the best life advice that I’ve ever been given, that I find a way to ignore on an almost daily basis.

  • And this how guys talked, and this is how this guy lived.

  • And unfortunately just a few weeks after he gave me that advice,

  • Jason was diagnosed with adnominal cancer.

  • Within five weeks, he was gone.

  • Jason Abraham was 23 years old.

  • And I stand on stages all over the world.

  • And I talked about what he taught me.

  • Because he mattered.

  • I’m 36 years old and I’ve been to 6 of my friendsweddings

  • And I’ve been to 15 of their funerals.

  • And I could do a full talk on what every single one of those individuals taught me, and that has made my life better.

  • Not one of them lived to see their 24th birthday.

  • But they mattered.

  • And I think we need to evict this idea from our minds that...

  • impact, and the ability to make an impact is in any way, shape or form...

  • related to how old you are, or how well you do in school, or how much money that you were going to make.

  • Because honestly, your ability to matter to someone else, and have them talk about what youve taught them...

  • is absolutely immeasurable.

  • I love talking about the lessons that my friends taught me,

  • because that’s how I let go of their loss.

  • I talk about them in a lot of different places.

  • Two years ago, I was talking about Scotty and I was talking about Jason.

  • At the end of the presentation, this young woman walked up.

  • And she said Drew I really like your presentation.

  • But I feel bad for all the pain that you had in your life.

  • And then she told me her story.

  • And it was filled with so much more courage, and so many more challenges, and so much more pain and loss than mine was.

  • I looked at her and said,

  • How in the world can you tell me that you feel bad for the pain I’ve had in my life...

  • when yours so obviously dwarfs mine?”

  • She looked me and she said...

  • Drew, I’ve discovered that there’s no universal measuring unit for pain.

  • Hurt just hurts.

  • So comparing it is pointless.

  • But I had discovered that only hurt people hurt others.

  • And so if I want to be the type of person that I want to be,