To Step Aside or Step Up

A few weeks ago I came to a crossroad in my life. I haven’t mentioned it anywhere online before, nor have I discussed it with more than a handful of individuals that I have been close with for many years.

That crossroad was a simple, yet extremity difficult decision to make: do I step aside, or step up?

Do I rise above and meet a challenge head on with everything I have, and more? Or do I fall below and succumb to self doubt, fear, and the individual weight of the world that is resting on my shoulders.

I struggled for days with the challenge and difficult decision that lay before me. There really was no easy answer. Each side of the coin had it’s own pro and cons, benefits and consequences, so on and so forth.

And then something snapped. I’m not sure at what point it happened, but somewhere along the decision making process, I realized I was going about making my choice entirely wrong.

This wasn’t a logical see-saw of pros and cons, risks and benefits, and whatever other jargon belongs here – what needed to be decided was what am I made of?

That was the real, soul purging question at hand, in all it’s forms.

  • What am I made of?
  • What do I stand for?
  • Am I a man of principle?
  • Is my word my bond?
  • Will I stand up for what I believe is right?
  • Am I willing to do what is necessary to realize my dreams?
  • Do I have what it takes to continue sparking change in an entire generation?
  • Am I naive fool?
  • Am I willing to let myself down, as well as those who have invested their time and effort into what I have dedicated my life to?

Am I going to step aside, or step up, and rise to the challenge?

My decision: step up.

Nothing else is even possible. It’s simply a part of who I am, and what resonates at my core. It always has, and I’ve decided, it always will, because if there is one mark and legacy I want to leave with the world, it’s that there are people who are willing to stand up for what they believe in – whatever the odds may be.

As my chief editor and video director Michael Gottino has said, The 21 Convention has far surpassed me, and I am simply playing catch up with something that has a potential and power I can hardly begin to grasp.

That said … I believe what I’ve done, and proven with The 21 Convention is that the little guy can stand up, rise to the occasion, and make great things happen – with little more than the sweat of his brow, a keen eye for opportunity, and the guts to seize that opportunity (that we all possess, but are often times afraid to embrace).

I’ve decided it’s once again time to fight for what I believe in, and what I believe in, and will sacrifice anything and everything for, is The 21 Convention – and everything it represents.

It is the expression – and perhaps to some degree source – of virtually every ounce of passion and purpose in my life since it’s founding in July of 2007. Every breath, every blink, every heart beat, every ounce of effort … it’s all been in one way or another leading to The 21 Convention and related endeavors (such as this blog).

And I’m not about to abandon it now. The convention has served us all well, and I owe it, along with everyone involved – myself included – 100% of my drive, determination, intellect, and everything synonymous.

What the hell is going on you ask?

Well, I’m not about to die from some medical complication if that’s what you were thinking. Nor will I be getting mauled by bears anytime soon in the wilderness (hopefully).

What is going on however – the cause of this critical decision in my life – is that the pressure is on like never before to make or break an entire event.

The 21 Convention 2010 of Orlando Florida is fine of course – more than fine actually. Four years of consistent and constant hard work is finally paying off. Ticket sales have consistently remained at 2.5-3x what 2009 event sales were, year round.

We actually had over a dozen people sign up for July 2010, in July of 2009. That alone was enough to take my breath away.

And in addition to that ‘organic’ growth, I have killer ideas to be implemented in the coming weeks and months for the Orlando convention. Both to pack the event out with over 250 people as the speakers deserve, and to make the 4 day event something attendees will never forget. Something to go down in our minds for decades to come, something that changes lives, and something that turns a phenomenon into a revolution.

High hopes? Maybe. But I’m done kidding around. Play time’s over, the big guns are coming out, and skyrocketing in popularity is only more reason to push harder than ever before.

The 21 Convention 2010 of Stockholm Sweden is a different story however. People have signed up, yes, but simply not enough considering the proximity of the event (June 11th-13th).

It may be obvious at this point, but this hit me like a bookshelf size brick across the face just a few weeks ago, causing me to seriously analyze what I had going on inside, where I wanted this event to go, and what it’s impact would be on the world.

Where do I want it to go?

Well, more importantly (and this will lead into the where question), what do I want it’s impact on the world to be?

That’s simple at this point, very simple, and clear as anything ever could be – I want it to help change the course of a generation.

That phrase, “change the course of a generation” has been on my mind since the early Fall of 2009, and while it may not be the catchiest sub title for the event (or perhaps it is?), I believe it encompasses what The 21 Convention has stood for from the very beginning – yes even in 2007.

It was the start of something new, and something great – like minded young men coming together to freely exchange ideas. Men who were fed up or outright disgusted with various areas of their lives, with a desire for change – sick of false hopes and quick fixes fed to us from birth from virtually every outlet imaginable.

That my friends, is how changes starts. People coming together, and openly sharing ideas that otherwise remain in the back of our minds, underdeveloped, unrefined, and avoiding challenge.

In 2010, all roads lead to Stockholm and Orlando.

On hindsight, and in regards to Europe, I probably should have picked London over Stockholm due to having even more popularity there than in Sweden (not to mention a higher population), but that is neither here nor there. Stockholm will be the birth place of The 21 Convention in Europe – perhaps London it’s first birthday.

Wait, let’s back up a second, why Europe in the first place?

Well, it’s been my dream for some time to make this an international event. I mean really, host it all over the world, not just fly people in to the United States from around the world. That is so 2007 (kidding).

But seriously, there is a demand for The 21 Convention in Europe. People have sent me e-mails for years requesting a convention on this level, and of this degree, in Europe. Never before has something exactly like it happened, and it’s now or never.

But I can’t do it alone. I have never been able to, and neither can anyone else as far as I know.

I can provide the spark, but the tinder, the fuel for something great has to come from a consensus among those who are most passionate about their lives, and whatever chosen areas they have dedicated themselves to. That’s how this event started, and that’s a huge part of how it has become such a wild success online, and in the United States – and now perhaps Europe as well – along with my consistent, and sometimes radical passion for running the convention from day one.

In any case, running The 21 Convention in Europe will be a dream come true. In Stockholm, London, or anywhere else for that matter. It’s simply part of the path I see for The 21 Convention, as well as myself personally.

And you know what? When I came to that step aside or step up crossroad – the do or die move for the whole convention there, and Europe forever for all I know – that vision was fading in and out. One minute I was sure we could pull it off … the next it seemed vague, foreign, almost alien in nature.

But since I made the call, every day that’s gone by, that image, that vision has become just a little bit clearer, a little bit brighter, and a little bit more vibrant. Day by day, minute by minute, second by second, move by move …

This convention belongs in Europe every bit as much as it does in the states.

Had my birth place been there instead of Florida, and the tables were turned, the same would be true – so why not give it my all and make it happen?

The more I think about it, the more I realize just how ridiculous the idea is that I can’t host this convention in Stockholm – that I can’t bring something as awesome, with beacon like consistency to Europe, where other conferences and conventions come, go, and fade with the simple passing of time or change of interests.

My dream is for every guy in high school or college to be aware of the event footage at, around the world. How awesome would that be? To find such a wealth of information, a search for truth, and a growing sense of right and wrong – at no direct cost – at such a young age!

People have commented on this blog for months, and elsewhere for years, about how fortunate I am to have found the information that I have and learned from it, at such an age.

I ask: why can’t everyone with access to the internet, find that information? Whether or not an individual learns from it (and has the wisdom to value something lacking an arbitrary cost) is entirely up to them, but providing it is the first step – the most crucial step towards changing the course of a generation.

A lost generation

A generation that didn’t trade guiding principals for the highest of ideals – but never had any instilled to begin with. A hypersensitive generation, utterly lost in ambiguity and hypocrisy, too busy chasing material wants that are “of dust” to stand up and fight for what they believe in – if that is even so defined.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – we are the greatest generation, and most often, the least aware of it. The challenges we face are so deep they are difficult to measure, but that doesn’t make them not so. They do exist, are catching up with us fast, and we are suffering as a result – with everything from our health, to relationships, and even the way we carry ourselves as men on a day to day basis.

Something needs to be done … and while I don’t have all the answers, this is what I’m doing, The 21 Convention.

It’s everywhere – on the web, TV, in Orlando Florida, and now Stockholm Sweden – if I and everyone who decides to help can make it happen.

Again, I can’t do it alone. I need help, and plenty of it. I always have … like we all do at times. And right now, our first convention in Europe needs the most support – and we’ve got less than 6 weeks.

Here’s how you can help.

  • A. Share this post with as many people as possible, that you think should see it, as I won’t be aggregating it in any way.
  • B. Visit The 21 Convention Phenomenon and find out more specific and actionable ways to get involved.
  • C. Sign up early for The 21 Convention 2010 of Orlando Florida if you were waiting to buy your ticket. You save a good chunk of change, and it allows for a little more wiggle room on my end with advertising and other costs for Stockholm.

To kick start everything, and demonstrate how serious I am about making T21C Stockholm a reality, I sold my car on Monday for extra revenue. Nope, not a joke. The car is gone, I’m back to the bike. – which I may even sell in favor of walking everywhere, simply for more advertising funds.

This post is about to be wrapped up, but I will state one more thing: while I am going 110% forward with Stockholm, I am not about to hinder or undermine T21C Orlando for it.

In that sense, there has to be a cut off date with an actionable goal. If we hit it, we’re more or less “in the clear”. If we don’t … then I have to immediately consider calling the whole event off, and refunding all tickets – while trying not to vomit in the process. The very idea of doing that, and missing an opportunity as great as hosting this convention in Stockholm, would definitely make for one of the saddest days of my life.

The most tragic thing of all not being the minor reputation hit, financial loss, or any of that BS – but knowing that I was capable of making this happen, and that I didn’t live up to my potential this time around. That, and there a great number of individuals already signed up for this event, and excited to attend – just not enough right now.

Whatever happens, there will definitely be a day in my life I never forget within the next few weeks. While there’s no guarantee, I damn sure hope it’s in Stockholm on June 11th.

The actionable goal will be 30 new seats moved by May 15th. That’s really not that many. Hell, we moved 14 in a day last year for a group buy. But never the less, that’s the amount I come up with after crunching a few numbers. Is it doable? Certainly. And if we do, we’ll be past the necessary threshold. If not, then other options will have to be considered.

In the closing of this post, I’d like to thank everyone for their time, effort, encouragement, praise, criticism, humor, feedback, advice, love, support … and anything else given to me personally, or this convention over the years (my fingers would fall off before that list is completed).

I appreciate it in a way I can hardly begin to express, regardless of what happens.

-Anthony ‘Dream’ Johnson

Director, Founder, President & CEO of The 21 Convention

About Anthony Dream Johnson

CEO, founder, and architect of The 21 Convention, Anthony Dream Johnson is the leading force behind the world's first and only "panorama event for life on earth". He has been featured on WGN Chicago, and in the NY Times #1 best seller The Four Hour Work Week.    His stated purpose for the work he does is "the actualization of the ideal man", a purpose that has led him to found and host The 21 Convention across 3 continents and for 6 years in a row. Anthony blogs vigorously at and

8 Responses to To Step Aside or Step Up

  1. James Steele May 1, 2010 at 10:54 am #

    Inspiring post Anthony. Reading this has reaffirmed for me what decision I have to make with my life now. Having just finished my BSc with my final hand in last week, I found myself suddenly a little lost and unfocused. I suddenly had all this free time. Yea I have stack of books i’m reading and other things I’m doing, but there was suddenly no immediate goal to work towards.

    I’m beginning my PhD research in September (fingers crossed). After reading this post and thinking, I’ve realised I shouldn’t be wasting any time. I should be making the most of this free time I do have now in order to further myself towards this goal. So I can’t begin actual data collection until September time, big deal. For the time being though I can be further reading and researching the background of the area in even more detail than I already have done. Maybe I was letting a little laxity slip in but now I feel more focus. One goal achieved, move onto the next. Stepping up.

    I also decided to finally begin my own blog, even if only to just have a medium to record my thoughts for myself to come back to. Here’s the link for anyone interested I’ve a few posts I’m writing up, the first covering Doug’s recent videos on low back training over at BBS. It will hopefully be up in the next couple of days.

    When you dont believe in limits then there can be no such thing as perfection, only progression.


  2. Halffull May 6, 2010 at 1:48 pm #

    Hey Anthony,

    I think you should treat the stockholm convention like you treated the 2007 Orlando Convention, lower the prices massively and do everything on the cheap. You’ll get a lot more guys who just say “what the hell”… and once they see the quality of the event, you can begin next year to build up to something bigger.

    Don’t run before you can walk, eventually the Stockholm event will catch up, but don’t expect it to be there the first year.



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