Stop Settling

In this book, Rick Hale identifies sources of inspiration to live a life that really matters and he provides tools to help people narrow their sights to focus on the priorities that make their lives awesome.

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About The Book

Purpose. Meaning. Fulfillment.

Who wants to live in a way that doesn’t make a dent? No one. But how do we find and follow the right direction? Some of us live defensively, trying to avoid big mistakes, but our caution may cause us to miss some wonderful opportunities. Others insist they’re spontaneous, seat-of-the-pants people who “go with the flow.” They assume good things will somehow just happen for them. And others are meticulous planners who have goals and a schedule for every day, every week, every year, and every decade of their lives. Each of these kinds of people has at least part of the picture, but there’s another—a better—way.

“You’d be crazy or stupid not to read it, learn from it and put his efforts to improve your life to work for yourself as soon as possible. “

Shaun Rawls
Author, founder and CEO of Rawls Consulting

“You will be engaged, you will be moved emotionally, and you will be inspired to become ‘your best’ You!”

Kay Evans
Co-owner, Southeast Region Keller Williams Realty

“A wealth of wisdom distilled into bite-size morsels.”

Hal Elrod
International keynote speaker and best-selling author of The Miracle Morning and The Miracle Equation

“Visionary and practical… make a difference in the lives of others!”

David Osborn
NYT Best-Selling Author

“A blueprint for life that’s clarifying and easy to follow… it’s an inspiring recipe for exposing your ultimate best.”

Rami F. Odeh
Author of Quiet The Noise: A Trail Runners’ Path To Hearing God

“Be renewed in a vision to bring your best self to every occasion.”

Dr. Randy Ross
CEO of Remarkable! & Best-Selling Author

chapter titles


Your Past Does Not Determine Your Future


A Life with Purpose


Look Farther, Think Bigger


Your First Two Questions


The Path to Your Five-Year-Future Self


Beyond a Doubt


First Things First


Make the Most of Every Day


Making Better Connections


Wealth Building


Success Hacks



“Son, you have a distinct lack of failure in your life.”

      I could tell my stepfather’s comment wasn’t intended as a compliment, and I was confused. Wasn’t a lack of failure supposed to be a good thing? I couldn’t believe he could say that to me. I immediately became defensive and began to list reasons in my mind why he was wrong.

      How could he insinuate that I was unsuccessful? At age twenty-six, I had already checked off many of my lifetime goals:

  • Business degree from Georgia State University;
  • Decent job with several years’ experience so far;
  • Nice salary;
  • 401(k) plan in place;
  • Home ownership;
  • Ample proof of coolness (Jeep, sports car, motorcycle, etc.); and
  • Making original rock n’ roll music in a band on the side.

      I wasn’t just successful at work; I could boast a lot of factors I felt were somewhat cool and that many of my peers still dreamed of. But the more I thought about it, I realized my stepfather wasn’t discounting those accomplishments. He simply had observed that I wasn’t fulfilling my potential—that my lack of risk-taking was holding me back.

      I reluctantly took a closer look at my life and saw that he was right. My work allowed me to live comfortably, but it was not remotely inspiring or exciting. As my twenties came to an end, I knew I couldn’t do it anymore. I had to confess that I didn’t want my boss’s job . . . or his boss’s job . . . or, frankly, any job in the company.

      I felt the need to breathe, grow, and do something big. My stepfather was right. I wasn’t growing because I wasn’t taking any real chances. I certainly don’t remember saying, “Life is short; I think I’ll shoot for a 6 or 7 out of 10 and call it a day,” yet that’s essentially what I was doing, even if my idea of a 7 was someone else’s 8 or 9. What matters is owning your true potential and how you see yourself, not looking at yourself through the lens of someone else.

      Bottom line: I wasn’t fully alive. And isn’t that the goal of a life well lived and worth living? I was traveling in slow motion, miles from my potential as a child of God, a God I believed to be all-powerful. I still think God wants us to deep dive and explore our true potential, not merely skim the surface. I was skimming along better than most, but still wading in the shallow end of life.

      Fast-forward a couple of decades to my family’s annual snowboarding trip out west, at the peak of Whistler Mountain in British Columbia, Canada. I found a place where the snow was soft and fresh, far away from the chaos of the ski lift and typical ski traffic. I detached my boots from my snowboard and just laid back in the snow, looking at the magnificent panoramic vistas and feeling the warm sunshine and soft, cool breeze on my face.

      Immersed in the sights and sounds of nature, I was keenly aware of how big the planet is, how big God is, and what a small player I am in the big picture. Here, on the mountain, I had no meetings to attend, no cellphone in my pocket, no to-do list hijacking my sacred thoughts. I thought, This is why I made the trip! Among my other thoughts that day, I recalled my stepfather’s words and felt immense gratitude that he had cared enough to challenge me about my “distinct lack of failure.” I had almost settled for a safe and predictable life of comfort and success—but my definition of success was far different then from what it has since become. Then, it had been having enough to coast through life. Now it is the ability to feel fully alive, whether I’m snowboarding on a majestic mountain or going through a routine workday. Success is no longer simply a life of financial freedom; now it includes mental clarity, a sense of purpose, and a persistent feeling of contentment with my family, my work, and myself.

      My purpose for writing this book is to inspire others, just as others have inspired me along this journey called life, to embrace a life filled with ups and downs, setbacks and crises, even rejection and failure— to stay positive and move forward even when life and people let you down. When quitting seems the simplest (and most logical) option, you simply don’t quit.

      I don’t mind making mistakes; that’s how we learn and grow. But I don’t want to have any regrets when the last bell rings and my last breath leaves my lungs. I don’t think you do, either. At twenty-six, I had been playing it safe. If that had continued, it would have been my life’s biggest regret. It has been far better to embrace the many mistakes and lessons learned as I’ve worked to create a more fulfilling, more exciting, more abundant life.

      Success begins with hard work, of course. Through persistence, risk, and (yes) occasional failure, I have accumulated an interest in twenty- plus privately held companies, each that create a return for me and allow me to work because I want to, not because I have to. I love my work, but I work because it creates margin for the other things I love. Even when I’m in the trenches working full tilt, I try to make time to road and mountain bike, ride motocross, wake-surf and wakeboard, snowboard, fish, scuba dive off of topical islands, and even skydive on occasion. In my forties I discovered the joy of painting, and now I paint for personal enjoyment and to donate my art to charity and friends. I collect guitars and play almost daily, often performing with other musicians.

      I am also committed to help at-risk teens find a better path, one that is healthy and empowering. The goal is to reach them before they make decisions that aren’t reversible—to plant positive seeds now that lead to a fulfilling life later. I’m able to support numerous organizations that impact youth, thanks to my hard work and good fortune, and because I created a plan to support that goal personally.

      It’s not my intent to boast of my accomplishments or lifestyle. I’m certain my story pales in comparison to what others have overcome and achieved. Yet I’ve been inspired by so many other people’s stories (many of whom I will be quoting throughout this book), and I hope my own story will inspire you. I want my four boys, their children to be born someday, and everyone else who is willing to work at it, to stop settling and learn to live a regret-free life.

      Throughout this book, I will be encouraging you to make some bold choices, and to make them at points in your life when they matter most. Choice equals real freedom, and freedom is the pinnacle jumping-off point for joy.

      How would it feel to have a life where you were swimming with the current and not against it each day? What if others weren’t in control of your potential and your pursuit of the things that make your heart sing? What if you could regularly enjoy travel, art, mission work, philanthropy, and all your other favorite activities without waiting until retirement? What if you could maintain such a lifestyle and still leave a financially sound, self-sustaining legacy for your family members and favorite charities? These are choices I will be asking you to consider, and I’ll help you see how to get from where you are now to where you want to be.

      Successful author and coach (and good friend of mine), Eric Saperston, once told me that he had discovered a key difference between those who succeed at a high level and those who don’t: a willingness to ask for help. Those who ask for help find ways to rise above all the obstacles and hiccups they face. Those who don’t are limited to their own natural abilities (as strong as they might be) and miss the benefit of others’ experience, role modeling, and wise counsel. A question unasked is a question unanswered . . . and a question unanswered could the one that keeps you from your fullest potential.

      Eric has credibility in asking penetrating questions. He is the director and lead actor in the movie, The Journey, which is a remake of his own remarkable path. After college, he bought a Volkswagen bus and followed the tour of the Grateful Dead with his dog Jack. At his father’s suggestion, as he traveled the country, he invited some very famous and influential people to have a cup of coffee with him. Before long, three others joined him on the trek from Atlanta to Seattle, asking life’s most challenging questions and discovering some amazing answers. His experience is summed up in his statement: “Sometimes you take a trip. Sometimes the trip takes you!” He asks, “Are you on a journey leading you somewhere you choose to go, and are you armed with high level questions along the way that elevate your experience?” I love another question he asks: “Do you wake up excited and go to bed fulfilled?” Let me ask, if not, why not? What would it look like to achieve that goal? Remember, you get one run at it. It’s not a dress rehearsal.

      The advent of the United States Global Positioning System (GPS) virtually eliminated the need for physical maps. Based on what I see and read, users have almost unanimously made it clear that GPS is not just a source, but the source for determining how to arrive where they’re intending to go. It even calculates trends in traffic flow and identifies accidents in real time—and it redirects us within seconds to find a better route. Amazing!

      Planning—in any area, but especially when we’re charting our best future—is like using the GPS on the phone or the dash of our cars. We enter the data of where we are and where we want to go, and the satellites and terabytes go to work to give us the best route to get there. The program steers us around traffic delays, wrecks, and road construction so we get to our destination as quickly and smoothly as possible. It’s an awesome tool! In our life planning, however, the satellites are different; we tap into the wisdom of mentors, authors, and friends who give us plenty of input and feedback—similar to the kind of input and feedback Waze or Google Maps gets from other cars on the streets and highways. With this information, we chart our course, pick the best route, and avoid most (but not all) of the roadblocks along the way. That’s how we find and follow our path to our best life, and that’s what this book is all about.

      There’s no rule that says it takes a lifetime, or even years, to begin to realize your improved life. It’s up to the goals you set, the effort you put into it, and the persistence you show when luck doesn’t seem to be going your way.

      Let me also give you a spoiler alert up front: the real benefit of financial freedom is in the relationships you build and add value to. If my primary focus ever appears to be on financial gain, it’s not. I’ve met many immensely wealthy people who were some of the most miserable people I’ve ever seen! I think most of us want to be around others who love us not for our wealth and resources, but because of shared interests and genuine concern for one another.

      Okay. It’s almost time to get started. I’m going to begin with a little of my personal background to demonstrate that success is definitely not determined (or limited) by someone’s upbringing. Then we’ll move on to a lot of practical lessons and applications. But first, I want to point to a scene in a movie that’s both funny and fundamental.

      I like a scene from the movie We’re the Millers, a comedy about a family on the road. At one stop, the teenage girl arranges a date with a rough-looking street punk. When he comes to pick her up, a bold tattoo is clearly visible across his upper chest, right below his necklace. It reads, “NO RAGRETS.” The girl’s dad asks him about it, and the kid explains, “That’s my credo: No regrets.”

      The dad replies, “You have no regrets? Not even a single letter?”

      Even though we may come to “ragret” some of our mistakes, let’s never confuse mistakes with regrets. Regrets are lifelong disappointments most of us see as irrevocable, but mistakes are a natural part of everyone’s journey toward success. If we overcome our fear and reluctance, we discover our mistakes result in helping us become better people.


Knowledge without implementation of what has been learned has no value. That is why Rick strategized this book in a way where you will have hands-on exercises to explore how your life can be regret-free and truly fulfilling.

Many people feel there is something missing from their life. Learning how to live a purpose-driven life leads to knowing your meaning which causes true fulfillment.

Rick is one of the most caring people I have ever met and his road from struggle to significance an inspiration to us all. If you want to learn about turning adversity into success in all areas of life this is the book for you. It’s both compelling and practical. Rick is one of the few folks I have ever known who has built wealth and then used it to really help others.

Bob Kilinski
Southeast Regional Owner, Keller Williams Realty

Like a great coach or mentor, Rick weaves timeless truths into his personal story and draws from the inspiration of others. The result is that you will be challenged to lay aside your excuses and be renewed in a vision to bring your best self to every occasion.

Dr. Randy Ross
CEO of Remarkable!, best-selling author and craftsman of Culture & Hope

I appreciate authors who can distill a wealth of wisdom into bite-size morsels. In Stop Settling, Rick Hale paints a broad picture of purpose and motivation, and then he brings it down into daily decisions that gradually fulfill our highest goals. Read this book. It’ll make a difference.

Hal Elrod
International keynote speaker and best-selling author of The Miracle Morning and The Miracle Equation

Rick Hale has given the world a powerful personal message about rejection, recovery, and forgiveness, leading to his ultimate and amazing success. You will be engaged, you will be moved emotionally, and you will be inspired to become “your best” You!

Kay Evans
Co-owner, Southeast Region Keller Williams Realty

Within one week of meeting Rick Hale over 20 years ago and hearing of his journey, I began encouraging him to write his book: “People NEED to hear your story.” Rick’s story has and will change many lives. Buried in it is a blueprint for life that’s clarifying and easy to follow. Simply put, it’s an inspiring recipe for exposing your ultimate best.

Rami F. Odeh
Author of Quiet The Noise: A Trail Runners’ Path To Hearing God

About the author.

In 1996, Rick Hale left behind his dream of making it big in the music business and launched a career in real estate. He has never looked back. As a top-producing agent and then launching and operating Keller Williams Realty offices, he continued to expand his reach and deepen his impact, including leading eight offices as the operating partner. His team of realtors was recently honored as one the top-performing teams in the country. And in a single year, his group of agencies sold approximately 12,000 homes exceeding $3.4 billion in value . . . while still performing and recording rock music with friends.
Rick is involved in organizations to assist at-risk children and adolescents, including Camp Grace, which provides summer camp adventures for disadvantaged kids. His goal for these young people is the same as it is for the agents in his business and all those he trains: to inspire them to dream bigger dreams and reach their full potential.

Rick and his wife Pauline have four adult sons: Cory, Alex, Tyler, and Luke.

Rick Hale