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Reading an autobiography is the secret to dealing uncertainty and failure, according to mindfulness expert Jay Shetty

Reading an autobiography is the secret to dealing uncertainty and failure, according to mindfulness expert Jay Shetty


When Jay Shetty was a teenager, he spent much of his time reading autobiographies from Martin Luther King Jr. to Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson and David Beckham. He became enamored with their stories, mindsets, triumphs, and the challenges they faced. 

Years later, in his 20s, Shetty left the monastery in India, where he lived, and pursued a career in the United States. He wanted to share the life lessons, wisdom, and mindfulness practices he learned as a monk to a broad audience, especially amid social disconnection, burnout, stress, and rising mental health problems. He recalls on his podcast, On Purpose, that countless people told him there was a one-in-a-billion chance that he would launch a successful and accredited platform in modern media. 

Today, Shetty says his social media posts have reached over 10 billion views. He took his chances and launched a YouTube channel. He amassed a significant following and got noticed by Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, who brought his content to her platform. He later nailed speaking engagements and book deals and has interviewed some of our time’s most influential voices, from Michelle Obama to Esther Perel and Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

During Shetty’s pivot years, he read more. Learning about the people we idolize and their setbacks, unexpected turns, and utter failures has taught him the power of betting on yourself. He recalls reading Walter Isaacson’s autobiography of Steve Jobs and, later, getting to interview him on his podcast. 

“I just look at all those stories and think about all of the sacrifices that were made or the setbacks that were there,” Shetty tells Fortune. “I mean Steve Jobs being kicked out of his own company … that’s pretty mind-blowing to even assess how painful that could be right and the challenges that come with that.”

Shetty, who now resides in LA with his wife, has hosted leadership talks at major corporations such as Deloitte and PWC, become a New York Times bestseller, and began his inaugural world tour last year for his book, 8 Rules of Love

He credits his success to the lessons he’s learned from entrepreneurs, athletes, and public figures on managing uncertainty and taking chances. “I think there are a lot of great biographies out there and autobiographies out there that can be really inspiring,” Shetty says. 

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