4 Inspiring Life Lessons from Sol Orwell




This essay forms part of a series I’ve titled: Inspiring Life Lessons.

In it, I document Inspiring Life Lessons I’ve picked up from Inspiring Folk who have Inspired Me.

Today’s essay focuses on the awe-inspiring. Sol Orwell

To learn about the rest, and who else features, open this page ⇒ 

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It was hot… really goddam hot!

I walked into my son’s room to get some peace and quiet. The downfall of this is, it’s the hottest room in the house. Still, I bubbled with excitement as I was about to hop on a call with a guy I had come to admire.

It was during the World Cup. We were set to miss one of the games. A big deal, as I knew how much he loved the World Cup. Despite being Canadian, and therefore, surely, had no right to even know what the World Cup was, let alone watch it.

I suppose this was the first inspiring life lesson Sol Orwell taught me… 

Canadians can like Football (sorry, soccer).

We got to chatting, the usual small talk.

Before long, we got into the ‘real stuff’.

I recall telling him about my book idea before it was even a real idea. I had visions of including him in it from the beginning. He was happy enough to oblige. It was no big deal for him. It was a big deal for me.

I’m not even sure why, as the two of us don’t agree on so many things.

  • He hates raisins. I love them.
  • He doesn’t like cannolis. I do.
  • He’s clearly insane. I am not…

Still, I felt like he had to be part of my book. Ever since I first came across him, he would inspire me through his simple words. Words without action, the mere notion of guidance. Ideas that didn’t obey trends or what other people may think is correct.

He spoke his mind, but with kindness.

For me, he shows that you can be “real” while remaining a real, good-hearted human being.

He’s offered me many inspiring life lessons.

Here are four of them I took from our call…

1: Minimize Responsibility

In a world of more, Sol Orwell edges toward less.

Not in a preachy, minimalistic “look at me” kind of way. 

Merely in a… “I’m okay, thanks” sort of manner.

If you don’t know about Sol, he’s found infamy in recent years for running “Cookie Events”.

That’s right… events that focus around cookies. No real point to them. But that’s the point.

He likes to have fun with things (which we’ll focus on soon). And part of this is to remove as much responsibility as possible. We talked about success, you see; what it means.

For Sol, success is about doing what he wants, when he wants.

A common definition that I’ve found many people share.

Yet he commits to it more than most people ever will.

How? By removing as much as he can.

The more responsibility he has, the less he can say yes to.

  • When he wants.
  • How he wants.
  • With who he wants.

Responsibility is a great thing. It allows you to take action and live life on your terms. As we grow older, we inevitably gain more of it. But we can always choose to say no to some of it. It’s a choice.

We can add more because we feel like we have to.

Or we can remain true to our success and say… “No. I’m good. Thanks, though.”

2: Minimize Expectation

During our call, he said that if you minimize responsibility and expectation, good things happen.

Take his now-infamous #COOKIEOFF events…

To begin with, they were just him and a few buddies partaking in cookie workshops or the like.

It started from there and slowly evolved. He had no vision for it; no plan to monetize it.

He even said that once you monetize something, you invite expectations onto you (more responsibility). This is fine if you need the money and there’s a gap in the market. But to do so for the sake of it… why?

Yet how often do you place an expectation on a “thing”, when there was no need to?

Instead of forcing it down a specific path, why not let it evolve as it needs to.

This is true in business and in life, surely… when you remove expectation, fun is had.

  • Less pressure.
  • Less intensity.
  • Less stress!

This leads us to the next inspiring life lesson…

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3: Have Fun and Enjoy The Journey

“Why so serious?” the Joker asks.

It’s a good question, too.

Why are we so serious… All of the time?

I struggle with this. I get so obsessed with an outcome or goal that I forget about right now… this moment… the journey taking place this very second.

Sol’s cookie events are the perfect example of what happens when you have fun with it.

Just let it play out and see what comes of it. Have fun. Commit hard. Be driven, sure!

Yet have fun and keep it fun. Look around and take in the sights, smells and sounds.

Sometimes we get so inundated with the path before us, we forget what surrounds us.

There are mountains to see. Forests. Beautiful settings fit for a painting. Sunrises. Sunsets.

There’s life… your life.

It’s there, all around you.

Enjoy it. Have fun.

4: Remember Where You Came From

This final inspiring life lesson is possibly the most impactful one Sol shared.

He talked about how so many entrepreneurs become narcissistic, not because they’re greedy or selfish, but rather they got lost in a warped bubble that warps their reality.

Sol knows a lot of people. Many of them have the means to do what they like, when they like. Just like Sol does. He told me about going on a midweek Rally Racing adventure once. 

He loved it. Amazing. Lots of fun.

  • Yet it cost a lot of money (at least, a lot of money for many people).
  • It was on a Wednesday.
  • He had to catch a flight to get there.

The reality is, this is NOT most people’s reality.

Sol continues to hold friendships with those he grew up with. Many of them have jobs. A 9-5. A budget. A family life that requires them to be careful about what they spend, and how they spend it.

This grounds Sol.

Reminds him of the world around.

… that his reality is different to most.

This is fine.

This is great.

But it’s also humbling to remember where you’ve come from.

What matters most.

What REALLY matters.

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Inspiring Life Lessons from Sol Orwell

I learned nothing about business as I spoke to Sol.

Yet I learned a lot about life, and how to live with eyes wide open.

We get to choose what we value.

We get to choose who we value.

We get to choose the path we lay before our feet.

There is no right or wrong, so long as it’s right for you.

Yet that is the point. Oftentimes, we live on autopilot.

  • Scaling.
  • Growing.
  • Pursuing more.
  • Creating more.
  • Becoming more!

Nothing wrong with any of that, so long as there’s a reason to do so.

Whereas if there is no reason, well… maybe you need to question if it’s worth it.

The extra responsibility.

The added expectation.

The seriousness of it all.

The warped sense of reality…

Inspiring life lessons indeed. From a Canadian who likes soccer and dislikes raisins… Go figure.

** Sol appears in my latest book, a parable about what it means to escape the hustle, learn to love yourself and build a life that truly means something. If you want to learn more about it and dive into Ishita’s Inspiring Life Lessons, click here ==> 

** and if you would like to read more about ‘Inspiring Life Lessons’ from Inspiring Folk who have Inspired ME, check out this page that documents this ongoing series.

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