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How did Brad Pitt land in Hollywood? In the flash of an “aha” moment

22-year old Brad Pitt experienced a pivotal "aha" moment that prompted him to move to Los Angeles.

I just bought my first copy of Esquire magazine. (It’s probably no surprise to anyone that it’s my first copy. I’m not, after all, a member of the magazine’s target demographic.) On its pages I found a new and curious world of humor, language, pictures, and scents—although I could have happily done without the men’s fragrance samples.

Why buy a copy of the June/July 2013 issue? I had received a tip last week from Google Alerts that in it would be an interview Brad Pitt in which he discussed a life-changing epiphany, one that he experienced about the time he turned 40. That’s something I can’t pass up! I’m always on the look out for stories of defining moments. Was or wasn’t it a profound “aha” moment for him? That was my question.

Well, I can’t answer that question. Not yet anyway. I was so excited to read about a different AHA! (the one took Brad to Hollywood in the first place) that I haven’t read the rest of the interview.

Brad was a senior at the University of Missouri with graduation was just a few weeks away. Write one more paper. That’s all he had to do before a journalism degree would be his. Then a flash of clarity propelled Brad out into the world, far beyond his Missouri home.

“Then it occurred to me, literally two weeks before graduation: If the opportunity isn’t there, I’ll go to it. So simple. But it had never occurred to me. I’ll just go to it,” Brad recounted his pivotal realization to Tom Junod in the Esquire interview.

After the insight, 22-year old Brad stopped what he was doing, went home to Springfield, and focused on earning money. Soon he had saved up enough to drive his Datsun 200SX 1,600 miles west to Los Angeles.

Wow. What a great story. It has all the markers of an AHA!. In a flash of clarity, Brad gained a new understanding of the way the world works, one that was so convincing that it gave him all the focus, motivation, and determination he needed to change course immediately.

And, I love that Brad said, “So simple. But it had never occurred to me.” That’s the beauty of a transforming “aha” moment. Once you’ve had one, it all seems so simple.


What’s an AHA! anyway?

An AHA! is a special kind of aha moment. Ordinary ahas are pretty common—in a sudden flash of understand we see something we hadn’t seen before, we understand something we hadn’t understood before, we make a connection we hadn’t made before. For example, I sometimes I get stuck when I’m writing, not being able to find the words that work for what I want to say. When I do I know it’s time to take a break—to take my morning shower, to throw a load of clothes in the washer, to take a walk to the mailbox. Then invariably, almost like clockwork, I will be hit with an idea and will be back to work in front of my computer.

AHA!s are all that and so much more. They are the kind of aha moments that has a personal and profound impact on the person who experienced it. I experienced my first AHA! when I was in my mid-twenties. I was very unhappy in my career but didn’t know why. Then in a flash of insight, I understood what was blocking my progress, and that made all the difference in my life. I described that experience and it’s impact in my life in a Mutual of Omaha aha moment video. Click this link to watch the clip. I also wrote about the moment in my soon-to-be-released book, The AHA! Handbook.


Andrew Zimmern shares his life-changing AHA! in Guideposts magazine

Photo by Revati Upadhya

I just love stories life-changing AHA!s. Don’t you? I just read in this month’s issue of Guideposts magazine the powerful story of how an epiphany put Andrew Zimmern’s life back on track after he had struggled for years with a drug addiction.

If you watch the Travel Channel, you’ve probably seen Andrew’s show, Bizarre Foods. He travels the world to introduce his audience to the foods that people in other cultures eat—things they consider delicacies, things we couldn’t imagine eating.

Andrew knew as a boy that that he wanted a career in the food industry. While in high school, he began working in a restaurant, and from there he steadily worked his way up to become an executive chef and then a food service consultant. Along the way Andrew also became addicted to drugs, alcohol, and prescription medication. Eventually he lost everything—his work, his apartment, his friends and family. (more…)