Michelle Rohr started Secret OWL Society after realizing that she had just lived the same year twice, and it was a mediocre year. Michelle set out to change her own life, but ended up inspiring and offering practical assistance to others who wanted to change theirs via her site, Secret OWL Society.
The Secret OWL Society was born after a string of Saturday nights poring over coffee and personal development books – nights where I would take my journal and go sit in a coffee shop and spend hours by myself just thinking and planning out my life, my goals, my time. I had reached a turning point in which I realized that I had just lived the same year twice and that it was a mediocre year. So I started to get very intentional about my personal development and facing my fears.
I also felt intensely passionate about exposing other young people to the world of personal development. I saw so many people my age desperately looking for a box that they could fit themselves into – a degree they could choose, a job they could shoot for, a company that would hire them. I wanted people to know they could make their own box, that they could choose themselves, that they could create their own career. As Earl Nightingale said, “Don’t compete. Create!”
What if the thing you’re meant to learn isn’t taught in any college…and you have to design your own education?
What if the career you are meant to have doesn’t exist…until you create it for yourself?
What if the company that you’re waiting on to hire you is the one you’re meant to start?
What if you’re waiting on someone else for something else and all the while you’re meant to just START already and help all the someone else’s waiting on YOU?
Your motto is that you are taking 100% responsibility for your life. This sounds simple but is very uncommon these days. How did you come to realise that you were maybe not taking 100% responsibility before?
The concept of taking 100% responsibility and what that really means hit me like a ton of bricks all in one moment one day. It dawned on me that while many things in my life are out of my control, I ALWAYS have 100% control over taking 100% responsibility for MY life. Furthermore, I could see that this was the key to designing my life into the way I wanted it to be.
You cannot begin change your life without take 100% responsibility for where you are now and where you want to go. Even by letting go of just a fraction of that responsibility, you let go of your power to design your life. I realized that I had been giving away my power up to that point by letting myself feel pushed and pulled by outside forces.
Jim Rohn said that when life pushes you, you have to push back! I think when you don’t take 100% responsibility for your life, you’re allowing life to push you over and push you down. I didn’t want to be a push-over! I didn’t want “life” to happen to me. I wanted to happen to my life!
What is your background and what inspires you to keep on keeping on?
I was born into an entrepreneurial, homeschool family and spent much of my childhood and teenage years helping run many different family businesses. I always knew that I wouldn’t be happy working for anyone else, so when I decided to go to college, it was strictly to have the experience of being a student in a college of my choice and not for the purpose of getting a degree that would help me get “a good job.” So after one semester, I completed my experience and was ready to leave college and move onto the next experience.
The time I spent in college ended up being a part of my motivation for the Secret OWL Society because I got to see up-close just how much schools are failing people who literally sell their lives away for an empty promise. I believe in education with all my heart, but I believe in self-education, street smarts, and life-long learning even more than the whole idea of marching to a classroom day after day for a piece of paper that would only limit your potential because of the pressures that come with feeling an overwhelming need to “do something with your degree.”
I had so many moments where I just felt boxed in or in a bubble during that time in college…
– cramming in facts from my textbook into my mind and thinking, “I could be reading Think and Grow Rich right now or The Magic of Thinking Big right now instead of memorizing this like I’m supposed to be some kind of encyclopedia!
– walking to the same classes day after day with dozens of other students and thinking, “Why are we all doing exactly the same thing at the same time right now? It’s we’re a herd of sheep or something!”
– having lunch with my fellow students and listening to them talk about how much money they’d owe by the end of their 4 years – up to $100,000 and feeling the tragedy of how normal and ok it seemed to them.
– sitting in classes and feeling like the teachers were wasting my time and my money; knowing I’d be better off teaching myself the material.
– sitting in a class with a particularly brilliant teacher and thinking what a shame it was that everything he was saying could be shared with the world on youtube or something for the benefit of anyone, anywhere, at any time…but it wasn’t.
– wondering why all of us students were putting our hearts and souls into writing the most insightful papers we possibly could only so that it could be read by ONE person, given a grade, and then tucked away and forgotten in a mountain of dusty notebooks.
I was a good student, but I never bothered to look at what my overall grades were when I left college after those few months. I placed zero value on my grades. Somehow I knew that REAL value came down to what happened outside of the classroom and I was not going to wait 4 years to start creating that value, whatever it was.
So, when I came home I was ready to get down to business, but I had a lot of internal and external resistance to work through. Looking back, I can see that all that resistance was growing out of the hole I had in myself – a hole created by not taking 100% responsibility. None of us are born understanding what that means. We all have to go through a turning point in out lives when we learn what that looks even like.
I felt like I was taking a lot of responsibility, but it wasn’t 100%. I can’t stress this enough. Even if you let go of just 1% of your responsibility, you have opened a door for resistance and weakness to fester and slowly take over the 99% that you have left.
I came home and took over running the coffee shop my parents owned, but because I wasn’t taking 100% responsibility for the reality that I was creating, I was just drifting. Now, I was working like crazy, but it wasn’t from the foundation of MY values in the pursuit of MY vision, and so I was getting nowhere personally. It’s possible to drift and work like a beast at the same time. Zig Ziglar said that you can’t hit a target you can’t see. On the other side of the coin, it’s just as bad – if not worse – to throw all your effort into hitting a target and then come to realize that it was never a target you set for yourself in the first place.
At 21 years old, being in a situation where I had come face to face with what I didn’t want, forced me to become crystal clear on what I really did want. I had to figure out in a short period of time who I really was, what I really wanted, and what my values are.
How did this happen? After 2 years of just spinning my wheels and getting nowhere, I had what Jim Rohn calls, my “day of disgust.” I decided to change my life as quickly as possible no matter what it took. It started by taking every Saturday night out – no matter how tired I was – to go sit in a coffee shop with my journal and my personal development materials and spend hours working on myself and my mindset.
I started listening to success audio books every day. I’d have Tony Robbins or Jack Canfield in one ear speaking to me while I served up caramel macchiatos, baked chocolate chip cookies, and wiped down tables in the coffee shop day after day.
From that foundation, my life started to change little by little because I would take that success-thinking input and act upon it immediately. Today, 3 years later, my life is COMPLETELY different. Every dream and goal I set for myself comes true no matter how big it is. And every day, I continue to work a little bit more on taking 100% responsibility for my life and teaching other people how to do the same on my Secret OWL Society blog.
What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?
My idea of a perfect Sunday is sitting on couch with my laptop or a book, feeling the breeze blowing through the house, and having my family around me enjoying themselves. Oh, and sipping a cup of really good coffee. I don’t work in a coffee shop anymore, but I still drink the stuff every day!