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Welcome back everyone to a new edition of my “5 Questions” interview series. Last week I took time off to spend time with family over the Thanksgiving holiday. I hope that your holiday was as blessed as mine! I am excited to be back at it, with some great interviews coming this month. Today I have the privilege of speaking with Bruce Van Horn, a social media superstar who is also a dad, author, coach, and motivational speaker. Did I also mention that he’s a runner? I have enjoyed following Bruce on Twitter for some time now, and was excited when he agreed to take part in the “5 Questions” interview series.
“Life is a marathon, so let’s train for it!” Bruce’s personal motto, based on his love for running, has come from many painful experiences and setbacks in his life, but also many unexpected and undeserved blessings. His passion is helping people discover their purpose and passion for life. He runs a highly successful podcast entitled “Life Is a Marathon,” which you can subscribe to via iTunes. He has written a highly acclaimed book for marathoners, “You CAN Go the Distance,” which is available on Amazon. When he is not running, writing, or podcasting, you can find him sharing motivation and inspiration with his over 300,000 followers on Twitter.
I speak with Bruce below about being a father, personal inspiration, running and social media.
5 Questions with Bruce Van Horn
On your website, it says that being a Dad is your first priority. How important do you feel it is for men, especially in today’s society, to place a high priority on being a father?
If you are a father, I think being the best father you can possibly be needs to be an extremely high priority—perhaps only 2nd to your marriage! I believe God created us to be fathers, just as He is our father. We were not created to be bankers, or lawyers, or truck drivers. Especially in today’s culture, where many men put more importance on their job or their hobbies than they do on their families, our children need strong fathers to be their role-models for how they will, one day, be fathers, too.
Your motto was inspired by a verse in the book of Hebrews. How has your faith helped you through difficult times in your life?
Hebrews 12:1b says “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us!” This is what I’ve developed into my life’s motto: “Life is a marathon, so let’s train for it!” Again, we live in a microwave, I-want-it-all-and-I-want-it-now culture. Knowing that life is a marathon, complete with ups and downs, twists and turns, good times and hard times, helps me keep my perspective on the long-range goals in life, rather than on just short-term satisfactions. My faith in God and that He is for me, rather than against me, gives me the perspective that hard times are not a form of punishment, but are part of the course that God has set before me. The “cloud of witnesses” referred to in 12:1a are all of our forefathers who are cheering for us, encouraging us to keep going at the times we want to give up
You bring inspiration to hundreds of thousands of people each day through your social media channels and website. Can you share a particular “listener/reader” story that has inspired you in return?
I am amazingly blessed to have such a large and faithful following of readers and listeners of my “Life Is A Marathon” podcast. It is a humbling privilege that I respect and cherish. One of my readers, Steven Webb, wrote a review of my “You CAN Go the Distance!” book. His review is titled: “I’m paralyzed, why read a book about marathon running?” Steven broke his neck 25 years ago and has been in a wheelchair since. He read my book, was inspired by it, and adapted the core ideas of marathon training into practical applications to his life. I was deeply moved by his story and we, since then, become friends. His determination to keep going despite his challenges, deeply inspires me!
How important do you think running is to helping people not only through difficult times but to keeping a well-balanced life in general?
I seriously attribute running to saving my life! It pulled me out of a deep depression, it changed my health, it changed my outlook on life, and completely changed my mindset from one of victim to one of victor. Running taught me that, while there are many things in life that are beyond my control, I am in completely control over my thoughts and my choices. You have to make some very hard choices in order to run marathons. Making these choices shows us that we can make hard choices over other areas of our lives, especially our health!
What advice do you have for others who are trying to build an online presence for themselves?
The #1 rule for building an audience is “be you!” Be 100% authentic and true to yourself. You can follow some of the methods that others have used to build their followers, but what is going to really make it last is being you. Write about the things that make you happy and motivate you. Write about your struggles and self-doubts and how you are trying to overcome them. There are many people out there who will be attracted to you simply because you are being you—rather than being someone you think they will be attracted to. When you are writing things that make you happy or have deep meaning for you, that authenticity will be the magnet that draws people to you.
Bonus: Through it all, what has been the most rewarding experience you have had as a result of your books, website, podcast, and social media?
Without a doubt, the most rewarding part of what I do is hearing from my readers and listeners about how what I have written or said has inspired and empowered people to make significant changes to their lives and to start living the life they’ve wanted to, but were afraid to try. I’ve had people write to say they got out of abusive, unhealthy relationships, go back to school, be a better spouse or parent, make changes their health. I even had one young man write to say one of my blog posts stopped him from committing suicide. What is so satisfying for me, however, is the knowledge that it isn’t my words that have cause people to make these changes. God is simply using me as the conduit to deliver the message He wants them to hear at that point in their lives. I know this is true because I will go back and listen to a podcast in which I said something that reached a person and I will either have no memory of consciously saying those words or, more often, I’ll think to myself “Wow, I didn’t even know I knew that!” So I know the words were not original to me.