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Dealing with an Existential Crisis: The Story of Rich Roll

Rich Roll is an individual I greatly admire not only because he is a top podcaster, YouTube star, published author, named one of the “Top 25 Fittest Men in the World”, plant-based diet evangelist, but also because he has been open and honest about his experience dealing with an existential crisis. An existential crisis is a profound period of questioning about who we are and the life we are meant to live. An existential crisis arises when there is a misalignment in who we are at our deepest core and who we think we should be. As a result, we may feel an ongoing low-grade depression, apathy, or a feeling of hopelessness that leads to questions such as, “Is this all there is to life?” and “Why don’t I feel happy despite having outward success?”


In Rich Roll’s case, he was living the proverbial “good life” yet he felt deeply unhappy due to what he said was, “denying who I was at my core.” With an undergraduate degree from Stanford and a law degree from Cornell, he found himself practicing law in LA. He had the fancy sports car, the beautiful home, a supportive family, and yet he still felt unhappy.


After once being a fit Stanford swimmer, Rich found himself 50 pounds overweight by the age of 40. He reconnected to his inner athlete and started running, biking, and swimming. This lead to a passion (or maybe an obsession?) competing in ultra endurance races. Rich’s physical transformation and spiritual journey were chronicled in his first book “Finding Ultra.” This book gained notoriety and resulted in Rich being named one of the “Top 25 fittest men in the world” by Men’s Magazine.


With much encouragement from his wife Julie Piatt, Rich ended up quitting law and ultimately letting go of a steady income and a lucrative career. He switched gears and found his voice as a podcaster. Despite it taking 2 full years to earn a profit, Rich kept at it because he said, “It felt right.” Ultimately Rich created a brand around himself as a super fit long-distance athlete fueled by plants who is driven by the question, “How can I be of service?” With a huge following, now complete with regular vlogs besides his podcast and some of the best interviews on YouTube, Rich’s life is figuratively RICH, meaningful, and fueled with passion.


Rich Roll’s story is a powerful illustration of what happens when we do our inner work and discover who we are and the life we are meant to live. Instead of ignoring his low-grade depression and apathy for life, Rich answered the call of his soul. He honored his creative gifts, his depth, and his desire to fully express all of who he is as an athlete, writer, vlogger, podcaster, and servant leader

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