In Chelsea’s words…
Who inspires me: People who are living examples that your external circumstances do not equate to your happiness, like Nelson Mandela or Viktor Frankl. These people are proof that happiness lies within, no matter what is going on around you. I am also inspired by the everyday people out there on a mission to live their legend, to not accept mediocrity and make the choice to live their life with intention.
Best advice: You always, always have the choice to focus on what you do have or what you don’t. And you can make the choice to appreciate what you do have in any given moment.
Chelsea and Scott Dinsmore were in their early 20s strolling down the beach together in Santa Barbara, California, hand in hand, dreaming of their future together. As the sun set, the young lovers tossed up visions of their ideal futures. What does success mean to us, they pondered? What do we want from our lives? They realised the traditional definition of success – the corporate job, the white picket fence and kids – didn’t excite them. They dared to dream of a life of adventure, of travel, of contribution. They wanted to make a difference in the world, to grasp life with both hands and experience all of its crazy, wild and glorious riches.
Despite their dreams, it was another seven years before they made such a life a reality. The result is the online platform Live Your Legend which inspires thousands of people across the globe to change the world by doing the work they love. The launch of Live Your Legend and its consequent rise to success set Chelsea and Scott on a whirlwind adventure across the globe. They couldn’t believe they were actually living the life they’d once dreamed of – travelling to visit Live Your Legend local groups from Panama to Bulgaria, France to Kenya.
However, 18-months ago, just over halfway into their 12-month globe-trotting adventure, Scott was killed as the duo climbed Mount Kilimanjaro together. A shattered Chelsea returned home to America where she found solace in continuing Scott’s dream of inspiring people to live their calling through Live Your Legend. As she’s battled with the grief of losing her husband, Chelsea herself has turned to Live Your Legend’s ideals to map out her vision for a future without Scott, a new future based on discovering and leading her true calling.
They dared to dream of a life of adventure, of travel, of contribution.
Dreams of escaping rat-race
Rewind to not long after that walk along the Santa Barbara beach, and Scott and Chelsea had returned to their corporate jobs, continued their long-distance relationship and wondered what they were doing climbing up their respective corporate ladders to positions that didn’t excite them.
It wasn’t until after they moved in together in 2009 and married a year after that Scott met people who were making a living online doing what they loved, and helping others. Scott met Leo Babauta of the website Zen Habits and Corbett Barr of Fizzle. Here were people living the life Scott had dreamed of. Hell yes, Scott thought, this was the life for him. He got serious. He rebranded a website he’d started as a sideline to Live Your Legend. And he announced to Chelsea that we was going to quit his job to work on Live Your Legend fulltime.
A crazy venture
“I thought he was totally crazy,” Chelsea says. “I remember we’d just got married and were living together for the first time and he was going to bed at 2am and waking up at 5am working on this thing that was making no money. I was like, what did I get myself into here? There was a period of time I was not buying into it – I didn’t get how websites make money. Then when Scott said he was going to quit his job to go fulltime on Live Your Legend, we needed to have one of those conversations!”
But Scott could be passionate and oh-so-convincing. And when Chelsea started to see the difference Scott was making to people’s lives, she too was hooked. “I could see the pureness of it,” she says. “It was impossible not to be on board when you could see that. It was a pure, genuine message he was using and adding value to, to turn it into a business.”
Chelsea says the Live your Legend ideal is not just about quitting a job you hate to take up something you love. She cites the case of a woman who approached her in Toronto to say she’d been suicidal before attending a Live Your Legend local meetup. “She said it was the first time she’d ever felt like she’d belonged,” Chelsea recalls. “That was so moving and so powerful. There are so many stories of people who have come across our stuff and it’s made them make really tough decisions but ultimately led to the quality of their life becoming better. And when your life becomes better, everyone’s life around you becomes better. You become a better person, a better parent, a better sister.”
“When your life becomes better, everyone’s life around you becomes better. You become a better person, a better parent, a better sister.”
Spreading the message
As Live Your Legend grew, Scott was invited to give a TEDx Talk about what he was trying to achieve through the website. This talk captured the hearts of listeners. “Scott was definitely a force of nature, larger than life,” Chelsea says “That talk became popular because people really connected to him and felt an authenticity. But it didn’t go viral – he worked really hard to get the talk spread out.” Some 3.5 million people had watched Scott’s TED talk by the time Scott died. Today more than 8 million people have watched it to hear Scott’s message.
Dream becomes reality
As life charged on Chelsea left her corporate career and started doing what she loved – teaching yoga with Jill Dailey at The Dailey Method, where she also started social media marketing for the business. As they both worked on their careers, Scott and Chelsea would return to the vision they’d dreamed up on the beach all those years ago. They knew they wanted to travel and live abroad. Scott was now working online with Live Your Legend and Chelsea arranged to do the same with The Dailey Method. After a decade of dreaming, they were ready to make their dream a reality. They sold their possessions, threw a big party and gave away the rest of their stuff. They then boarded a plane with a one-way ticket to South America.
“We had no routine, didn’t know where we were going to sleep, we were running businesses but the internet was super inconsistent, and everything takes longer when you’re on the road so it took a little while to get into it,” Chelsea recalls. “It also took us a little while to get on the same page. Scott had this life-is-short attitude whereas I’m more la ze faire saying like let’s spend a month in this little remote village in Argentina and he was like but then there’s Chile and Ecuador and Patagonia and.… So we had to get on the same page. But then we got in our groove and it was great.”
The couple travelled through South America for three months, visiting Live Your Legend local groups in Argentina, Chile and Panama.
They journeyed through Europe, visited Morocco and ventured into Eastern Europe during five months’ of travel – a glorious whirlwind of ancient cities, fired up people and fascinating encounters.
Chelsea remembers visiting a Live Your Legend group in Bulgaria and being struck by the similarities between people the world over. “It’s really unbelievable that you go to these places in the world that, for a lot of people in the States, seem 10 million light years away and people literally believe in the same thing,” Chelsea says. “This belief, this vision that Scott was wise enough to come up with in his youth, it’s something that transcends all religions and backgrounds and cultural upbringings. The reality of it is that it taps into part of the human spirit. We all know that when we get out of our own way, and get out of our own heads, that we have a purpose in life. That’s what Live Your Legend is all about – finding and living your purpose.”
Fired up by their travels and the difference they were making, the duo arrived in Africa, excited about a hike to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. They rose at 3.30am on the day of the summit attempt, and climbed for three hours through the darkness. Stopping as the sun rose, they removed their head lamps before making the final assault on the summit. Not long afterwards, they heard a shout from above and looked up to see boulders thundering down the mountain.
Chelsea dove to the right from their single-file line and looked back to where Scott had been standing behind her. He was no longer there – his form laying prone further down the mountain.
“I remember the moment of looking back down at him, I think it was the last moment I didn’t realise the severity of the situation,” Chelsea says. She flew to his crumpled body. He was breathing at first. But as his breath faded Chelsea started giving him CPR. Her frantic efforts brought him back for a moment. “I see that moment as a gift,” Chelsea says. “Because I had the chance to say I love you.” Then, near the top of a mountain in Africa, Scott was gone.
Power to go on
Chelsea was forced to endure a five-hour return trek down the mountain. Porters carried Scott’s body. As tears streamed down her cheeks a voice in her head whispered: “You can do this Chelsea, you can do it.” Next came a blur of police, hospital, questioning and a 36-hour flight home to America.
“Human spirit is a crazy resilient thing,” Chelsea says. “I tell this story and I know I lived it and breathed it and experienced it but it wasn’t me, it was a part of me that is so much deeper than the shell of me. I think we don’t tap into that place until we have to. It’s amazing when you realise the power of it.”
Finding the strength
Chelsea returned to America to no house, no possessions, no husband. “If someone had said ahead of time that this would happen to me I never would have said I could overcome it,” Chelsea says. “I fundamentally at a core level became a new person in the moment that event happened. A core part of you changes and it’s that part of you that have to tap into because that’s the part that knows the power and strength that you have.”
Chelsea says there were several reasons that motivated her to claw her way back from grief. “Firstly, I know at a level that most don’t how short life is,” she says. “It’s not some cliché phrase to try to motivate me to do shit. My physical body knows every moment of life is precious. Secondly, I really aligned myself with this idea that the best way to honour Scott and continue to love him in this new dimension was to be me, because he loved me. He loved this Chelsea – the smiley, the radiant and goofy Chelsea.
“And thirdly, I had been close to depression and suicide growing up and I made a decision at very young age that that was a path I’d never go down. I was never going to be a victim of life. I was going to take whatever life handed me and turn those lemons into lemonade. I was a little too close to seeing how you could let external circumstances lead you down that road. Now I see that as such a gift.
“Because I was not in a good place when I got home. Suicide wasn’t an option but I wanted to die. I would wake up and wish that cars would run over me, I’d wish that the tree would fall on me – I did not want to live on this planet. And I couldn’t live in that place for long. I got there, I felt the depths of it and I said I cannot live here. It wasn’t a ‘should’, or I’m going to figure it out, it was a freaking must.”
“I fundamentally at a core level became a new person in the moment that event happened.”
Outpouring of love
Chelsea also gained solace in the support of the Live your Legend community. “The amount of love and support and grace from walks of life I could never freaken imagine was coming at me,” she says. “I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe the kindness of humans.”
She wanted to give back to these people who’d supported her and decided to write a blog post of her own to the Live Your Legend community explaining, in her own words, what had happened in Africa. The responses made her realise her writing could actually help people. By sharing her pain and her journey she was helping others. So she continued to do so. Chelsea took on Live Your Legend herself, not just out of love for Scott, but also for a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
Finding her purpose
Recently, Chelsea has felt ready to resist the urge to hide behind Live Your Legend and instead take its core advice – to determine her own life calling and gift the world by living her purpose. She has brought partners on board to help run Live Your Legend while she figures out her future. While she always plans to stay involved with Live Your Legend, she is also up for new callings life may have in store for her. “The best thing I could do for the business is to live out its philosophy,” she says. “I feel like I’m at stage one for Live Your Legend. Maybe I’ll start a little B and B, cook and teach yoga and offer some kind of sanctuary. I’m about the simple life. Scott was the big dreamer of changing millions of people’s lives, I’m good one on one. I’d love to help people who come into my space – that’s where I shine and can make the biggest difference.”
You could imagine that Scott would approve. Speaking to his Live Your Legend audience online, he said, “Imagine a world where 80 percent of people love what they do – what would that look like? What is the work you can’t not do? Discover that, live it, because that is the work that changes the world.” That is living your legend.
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