Find Your Own Flame

Do you dream of living your life your own way? Are you looking for a guide to fitting your dreams, your goals, and your day-to-day work together into a coherent and powerful path? In The Fire Starter Sessions, Danielle LaPorte promises this and much more.

Who Is This?

Danielle LaPorte is an author, motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and blogger. Her personal history has a fascinating diversity, from being executive director of a think tank called “The Arlington Institute” to founding a lifestyle website.

What’s the Big Idea?

Technically I believe The Fire Starter Sessions is considered a book on entrepreneurship. On the other hand, I don’t have an entrepreneurial bone in my body and it still spoke to me, and LaPorte makes a point of saying that you can still live a joyful and self-directed life even if you work a 9-5 job. So I’m calling it a book on success in general.

The central argument of The Fire Starter Sessions is that you have to get very, very clear on how you want to feel (or, to use my words, what kind of person you want to be). All other goals, dreams, and strategies for getting there should flow from that core sense of yourself.

Part One, “Mojo”, makes the initial case for radically connecting with your own desires and choosing the path that feels truly right to you. The very first chapter exhorts you to “Declare Your Superpowers!”

Part Two, “Moxie”, gets into the detail of figuring out where you are and what you want. Who are you? What is your true vision? What are you afraid of? What have your failures taught you? The final chapter, “No Thank You – Yes Please” focuses on saying yes selectively, only to the things that truly light you up, without making excuses.

Part Three, “Results”, is about – well, it’s about getting results! It talks money, time management, your impact on the world, creating things that you feel good making, and surrounding yourself with like-minded souls. This part also gets a little more into the nitty-gritty of entrepreneurship. Not entirely in the weeds with balance sheets and marketing advice! Just general principles like: let your business grow organically; fundraise only as a last resort; start b by going after the easy money but make sure to allot time to go after the big money.

Each chapter has associated exercises that guide you through the process of discovering your true desires and path and letting go of what’s not working.

My Take

I love this book so much. SO much.

I credit the audio edition. I am generally not a fan of audio books; I take in information most easily by reading, not listening. However, I first encountered this book in  audio version only so I gave it a shot and I was immediately captivated. The audio book is read by Danielle LaPorte herself and you can hear the passion and warmth in every word. It’s the only audio book I’ve ever listened to multiple times.

This book is a study in glorious contradictions, being simultaneously radically woo-woo yet results-focused. It firmly promotes hard work and necessary intensity when pursuing your goals. Yet LaPorte makes a point, more than once, to distinguish between hard work towards one’s passion or true dream and the endless drudgery of slogging through because it’s what you think you should do. LaPorte’s framing is what really made it click for me that I needed to choose my goals based on a larger sense of who I was and what kind of person I wanted to be, rather than mindlessly going for what my family/friends/society tells me I ought to want. (In fact, I loved the idea of “how do you want to feel” so much, I grabbed it to use in my 31 Days of Goal-Setting posts.)

I also really appreciate LaPorte’s empathy. She’s got the traditional self-help “the sky’s the limit” rah-rah spirit, but she’s also careful to acknowledge people who work unglamorous jobs to support their art, or their further education, or their family. She rarely sniffs about the amorphous mediocre “them” whom self-help book readers are so often meant to flatteringly contrast themselves to or strive to be better than.

Oh, and the writing is delightfully engaging. LaPorte mentions that she’s a huge poetry fan, and it shows – a lot of her prose reads a little like a poem or a song. Her language is a river of torrential, passionate, yet precisely channeled words. You get the sense that some phrases were crafted with care, yet it feels like she’s speaking irrepressibly from the heart. (Again, this comes through especially in the audio edition).

Meant For

Entrepreneurs most definitely, but anyone who feels or suspects that they aren’t quite on the right path. People who feel like they’re slogging and maybe not going in the right direction. Those who like their new age spirituality with a hefty dose of practicality, or vice versa. Those looking for a hug and a good talk from a mentor in friend, in book form.

Bottom Line

I am completely unable of being impartial here. I guess if you really, really hate new-age-y writing, this might not be a book for you? But I would normally classify myself in that category, yet it didn’t dim this book’s shine for me at all. I really recommend checking it out – the audio book specifically, if possible.

The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful and Practical Guide to Creating Success on Your Own Terms by Danielle LaPorte – pages – published 2012 by Crown Publishing

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