To Change This World, You Need to Live in a Fantasy World
Jonathan Roomer applies the teachings of the fantasy series The Rhythm of War to the mission we're on at YuLife.
Jonathan Roomer - 26 January 2021
Earn your magic and change the world
As an avid fantasy fan, I often spend my evenings - sometimes a lot longer than I should - losing myself in a book.
Most recently, I’ve taken to reading the glorious,1,200-page The Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson. This isn’t just a book - it’s a workout just holding it up. It’s not the type of book you want to fall on your face whilst reading in bed!
From it, I’ve learnt a lot beyond than the world inside this series, but the world around me, and our mission at YuLife.
Before you go on, be warned, there are spoilers ahead.
Systems of magic
A common theme I’ve found in fantasy novels is that they all have a “system of magic” which varies; these systems allow the protagonist to utilise magic in order to save the world.
One common system of magic is that it is innate, one is either born with it or not. Another system is the exact opposite. Magic is there for anybody to discover or to learn. All you need to do is say words of power, conjure a spell or mix a potion.
A third way, which I find the most fascinating, is the earning of magic - for somebody to have this power, to truly become a hero or heroine, they have to earn it. This is the system of magic in the world of Roshar in the Rhythm of War.
In the book, the heroes and magic wielders are called Radiants and they need four things to earn their magic (for the Stormlight Archive fanatics, forgive me I am using poetic licence below).
- The Ideal - In The Rhythm of War, the hero has to swear to an ideal that guides them on their quest. These are things like “I will protect those who cannot protect themselves,” and “I will bring people together instead of dividing them.” The ideal guides them, it becomes the lens through which they make decisions and ultimately tests their resolve.
- The Team - No single person can perform magic on their own. They have to have a partner that can work alongside them and draw on their strengths.
- The Journey - The third thing that’s needed is to be on a journey. Brandon Sanderson, in the intro to The Rhythm of War, writes about consulting mental health experts and wanting to reflect the protagonists’ mental health and struggles without shying away from them. In fact, the main character suffers heavily from anxiety and PTSD. His mental health, and his journey to own it, is not a detraction from becoming the hero but is a fundamental requirement to earning the magic.
- The Energy - Even with an ideal, a team, and being on a journey - everything needed to wield magic - one cannot do it without Stormlight. Stormlight is the magical energy power which enables our heroes to become Radiant and save the world.
How do we apply these concepts at YuLife?
One of our values at YuLife is: Build the world you want to live in.
For me, this is the “What” - what we want to achieve. But how do we get there? I applied the “How” that comes from the world of fantasy and The Rhythm of War to this goal.
Just as the radiants needed an ideal to strive for, we have our mission: To inspire people to live their best lives every day. It is through this lens that we operate, the way we challenge each other, the way we hold ourselves accountable, and ultimately the way we make decisions.
We can’t do this alone. We don’t have a single founder or even two, we have a whole family (there are five of us). But that doesn’t go anywhere enough to make magic happen. We have grown to become a unit of over 60 talented people working together.
YuLife as a company is very much on a journey, as is each member of the team. We all joined for different reasons, and I love how open and vulnerable we can be without each other to talk about those journeys.
We need our own energy to make magic.
A great example of getting energy can be seen in the difference between introverts and extroverts. It isn’t about specific personality traits, like being shy vs. being outgoing, or loud vs. quiet, it's about where you get your energy. Extroverts get their energy from other people, whether that be at a party or through conversations, whereas introverts get their energy from being on their own.
I am a massive introvert. For me there are few things better than on a Friday night, after putting the kids to bed and waiting for my wife to fall asleep, taking out my fantasy novels and reading until I fall asleep (sometimes minutes, sometimes hours) - this gives me my energy.
Using our magic for the year ahead
However last year was for you, it no doubt consumed a lot of your energy. I urge you to recharge that energy - look after yourself, to cultivate your wellbeing, make huge strides towards your mission and, ultimately, make magic.
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