A Look Inside My New Book: The Rebel Code

by Joe Barnes




Date: Nov 9, 2023

A Look Inside My New Book: The Rebel Code

Below, is a excerpt from my new book, The Rebel Code: 12 Steps To Find Your Place In The World And Win.

This is just a small section from step 2. To read the whole book and get the complete picture on how to become a happy and successful rebel, look out for The Rebel Code’s release on the 4th December (you can get notified and receive a launch week discount by signing up to my newsletter – click the link below and enter your email where prompted*)


Alternatively, you can pre-order The Rebel Code on Amazon RIGHT NOW by clicking HERE

*ignore the information for the “30 Days To Escape The System” course. You are on the right page for being added to The Rebel Code launch.




On a foggy Oregon morning, sometime in 1962, Phil Knight set out on a run. It was early and as the day broke, he had a revelation.

He was 24 at the time. After 7 years away from home, gaining both a degree, and a masters, and then spending a year in the Army, he’d returned back to Portland, Oregon. What awaited him, midway through his 20s, was a major life decision regarding his future career.

With a degree in business and an MBA from Stanford University, Knight wasn’t short on options. His father was a journalist and he’d considered following in his footsteps or a career in accounting. However, alongside these professions, there was something else competing for his attention.

Knight had a Crazy Idea (his own words).

While studying for his MBA, he’d completed a paper on importing Japanese running shoes and selling them to the US market. This idea was based on a recent trend he’d noticed where Japanese designed goods, especially cameras, were competing with, and outperforming, imports from other countries. If it worked for cameras, he thought, why couldn’t it work for running shoes?

For Knight, this paper was much more than a means to achieving his MBA. It was the seed of an inspired future. He couldn’t stop thinking about his Crazy Idea yet was uncertain about the possibility of it working as a business.

  • Would he be brave enough to put it into action?
  • Where would he get the capital to start?
  • What would his parents say when he told them about his plans?

These thoughts, and more, swirled around in his head while he considered his options. 

While pondering his future career, Knight also began developing his own life philosophy. His original passion was running. He’d pursued this throughout high school and university, competing for the Oregon team. However, unlike some of the athletes on the university programme, he fell short of reaching international level.

With a career as an athlete out of the picture, he was looking for some way to capture the excitement of competition with whatever work he chose to do. As a deep thinker, he questioned conventional standards of success. Sure, he wanted to have a wife, kids and a house but beyond that, financial gain didn’t provide much motivation. Instead, it was important that he should leave his mark on the world and for his life to have meaning.  

All of these thoughts led him to an exciting conclusion. If he could no longer experience the thrill of competing in a 10,000-meter race then he wanted to make his daily work so engaging that it felt like play.

His mind kept returning to this word. There was too much pain in the world, he rationalised. Furthermore, a person could follow all of society’s rules, work hard, do as they were told and still find they were unfairly treated. Therefore, it was far better to pursue your own self-determined dream that felt like a good fit.  

Once this thought process was complete, Knight experienced his revelation (while out on his aforementioned morning run). He was going to start a running shoe company and put everything he had into making it successful. In his memoir Shoe Dog, he recalls an almost ecstatic reaction to this decision,

I was suddenly smiling. Almost laughing. Drenched in sweat, moving as gracefully and effortlessly as I ever had, I saw my Crazy Idea shining up ahead.


Internal guidance vs external guidance

Why have I chosen to highlight Phil Knight’s experience?

Primarily because, like Knight, you’re going to face many life-defining decisions on your journey to becoming a successful rebel. In these moments, who, or what, can you turn to for guidance?

Phil Knight followed his heart when choosing his future career. The sensible option would have been to become an accountant or a journalist. He’d have had a good income, been able to support a family and could have avoided the risk of starting a company from scratch. However, despite all these benefits, this path didn’t make him feel alive.

Notice how Knight felt on his morning run, after he’d made the decision to commit to his new business idea. He describes himself as, “suddenly smiling” and, “almost laughing.” The moment seems euphoric.

What could have made him feel this way?

Knight experienced an “inner knowing” about being on the right path and this is why he felt elated. It was his spirit’s way of affirming his choice and that he should proceed with what, until that point, had just been a Crazy Idea.

His life after this moment was far from smooth. He was pushed to breaking point on numerous occasions while trying to establish his running shoe company. However, the decision to follow his heart ultimately led him to become the billionaire owner of one the world’s most popular sports brands.

Such an incredible transformation can only occur when you follow your heart.

Over the course of your life, you might be faced with many important decisions;

  • Deciding whether or not you should go to university.
  • Choosing a career or deciding to start your own business.
  • Deciding whether to marry your current partner.
  • Making up your mind about whether to leave your job.

On each occasion, there’ll be two voices competing for your attention and offering you guidance. The first of these is your inner voice and the second, society’s.

It’s heart versus head.

How do you know which one to follow?

Leaders and followers, typically, make their major life decisions based on conventional wisdom and are swayed by appeals to logic or what “makes sense.” They’ll be influenced by their parents, teachers, the media, religious leaders, their boss, colleagues and social media. All of these voices will amalgamate into one which they’ll trust over their inner voice (even leaders, in this sense, will act like followers).

Leaders and followers do what’s expected of them, regardless of whether they want to, because they believe,

  1. The majority must be right.
  2. That working with society is the only way to meet their needs (security for the follower and power for the leader).

This thinking might cause them to ignore their true desires when making an important life decision. For example, when choosing a university course, they might select one they have no interest in studying so long as it leads to a clearly defined career path.

When deciding to get married, they might select someone they don’t love (rather than hold out for the real thing) if they’re getting older, facing pressure from their parents and friends to take this step and are concerned about missing their opportunity to marry and have children.

To a degree, this way of making decisions works for the leaders and followers. It helps them avoid difficult existential questions and the disapproval of others. However, the rebel must find an alternative approach.

Rather than listening to society’s voice when making major life decisions, the rebel must heed the call of their inner voice.

This is easy to define yet sometimes hard to hear. It’s your gut instinct, your conscience and what your heart is telling you to do. No matter how uncertain you may be about a decision, it will always be there. Its voice may be muted, drowned out by all the other ones competing for your attention, but if you can develop strong self-awareness, you’ll be able to hear its call.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with listening to external sources and heeding the advice of others. Sometimes it will be wise to do so. However, relying on them to the exclusion of your inner voice might cause you to overlook your life purpose.  


Divine guidance?

Phil Knight used the term “Crazy Idea” to describe his business plan to sell Japanese imported running shoes to the US market.

It didn’t make sense.

He was 24, had a degree, an MBA and had completed a spell in the army. When it came to succeeding in the job market, he was in a strong position. A host of professions and companies would have been more than happy to offer him a job and pay him handsomely for his time. However, instead of accepting the easier path, his heart was telling him to venture into uncharted waters and start a business that, many would consider, was a shot in the dark.  

You may be wondering whether your inner voice can be trusted when making major life decisions.

After all, your heart isn’t always rational. Sometimes, it will urge you to do something that appears to be a risk. It might tell you to quit your job and start a business that has no guarantee of success. Or, it could tell you to leave a marriage and put yourself in a position where you’re on your own and at an age where, typically, it’s harder to find a romantic partner. However, just because your heart appears to be placing you in immediate danger, doesn’t mean the wisdom of its guidance won’t be revealed at a later date.


What you’ve just read is a excerpt from my new book, “The Rebel Code: 12 Steps To Find Your Place In The World And Win”

To pre-order a copy, click here and you’ll be taken through to Amazon.