African-American woman holding laptop and leaning against glass wall in office

In her new book No Reserve: Take Ownership and Live YOUR Life without Limitations, celebrity “auctiontainer” Letitia Frye presents an extended metaphor comparing life to an auction. Many of us, she explains, establish conditions that are necessary for us to act on our dreams. Or in auctionspeak, we set a “reserve” — or a minimum bid — on our life. We wait to start living our legacies because we think we aren’t or don’t have enough: enough resources, enough connections, enough time, etc. As she writes, “Life is like an auction: you get your best returns if you don’t set a reserve on it. Anyone who wants to live a meaningful, fulfilling, invigorating life that makes an impression on the world must learn to live their life with no reserve.”

What does it mean to live with “no reserve”? According to Frye, it means that we must go “all in” on our life and our dreams. It means that we have to take risks. It means that we have to give before we receive — without the expectation of a return — and that we have to build our network with an attempt to enrich our lives with multiple perspectives rather than align ourselves only with experts. In essence, it means that we have to discover for ourselves that we are our own greatest mentors and source of strength; we are, as Jason Hewlett’s The Promise to The One reminds us, The One whose Signature Moves can creative massive change — if we commit to sharing our gifts with the world.

Are you sitting in the back seat of your own life, missing valuable opportunities for growth and progress because you doubt your capabilities or fear the consequences of fully committing to your dreams? Below are three principles that will help you take the reserve off your life so that you can experience unlimited potential for success and enrichment.

1. Eliminate Project Noise

Sometimes we assume that our busyness is an indicator that we are working diligently to achieve our primary goal, but it can be quite the opposite: we might be undercutting ourselves by wasting time on activities that are not directly supporting our success. If we are “all in” on our lives, we have identified our definite chief aim and are ensuring that all our efforts are directed toward that one goal. To determine whether you are unknowingly holding yourself back in this way, write a list of all your responsibilities and activities — anything that requires your time, focus, or energy. Then arrange these responsibilities into three categories: (1) aligns with your primary goal; (2) might support your primary goal tangentially, whether through personal enrichment, financial provision, or another indirect connection; and (3) does not relate to or support your progress toward your primary goal in any way. Strike out all the commitments that fit into the third category. Scrutinize the activities in the second category, determining which ones are worth investing your attention into at the moment. The goal is to eliminate all “project noise” — time- and energy-draining activities that seem like opportunities on the surface but that ultimately keep you from making meaningful progress toward your goal because you’re expending your resources on activities that are peripheral to your chief aim.

2. Put Passion Before Paycheck

According to Frye, “Waiting for someone else’s acknowledgment of your value is a set-up for failure. It prevents you from taking ownership of your life and gifts until you get that external validation.” That validation might be words of affirmation, or it might be the financial acknowledgment of the value that your expertise brings. Regardless of what form it takes, external validation should not dictate whether you pursue your dreams. Oftentimes a significant output of time and energy are required to see a financial return on your efforts, but there is no shortcut to success: you have to learn the ropes and invest time into your growth so that you can receive the maximum value for your contributions. That does not mean you can ignore financial responsibilities, but it does mean that you cannot wait to act on your dreams until the return is there.

3. Become a Mentor

Rather than trying to find a mentor; become one. Build your network by reaching out to people who would benefit from the talents, skills, and gifts you have and determining how you can add value to their life. Through mentorship, you can magnify your impact while building a diverse network that will support your success journey by forcing you to take an active role in it. Stop pursuing the “experts” in your field and start pouring into others whose lives you can make an impression on. You will be amazed to discover what insights and gifts they can share, even if they are outside of your industry. Remember, you are the greatest mentor in your own life: if you’re “all in,” you can add value to others while expanding your own capabilities.

So many of us are missing crucial opportunities that could alter the course of our lives because we are consciously and unconsciously setting minimum requirements for our engagement — we have that reserve on our life that is limiting our reach. Stop waiting for your resources or the circumstances to be “enough” to merit your commitment; your dreams are worth the investment right now.


  • Jennifer Janechek, PhD

    Director of Content Strategy

    Sound Wisdom

    Jennifer Janechek is the director of content strategy for Sound Wisdom, a publisher of personal growth and business improvement books. Having worked remotely for over a decade, she founded Work-Home-Life, an online magazine and community for “non-traditional” workers: the freelancers, the remote workers, the hybrid employees, the entrepreneurs, and the digital nomads. Her work has appeared in Entrepreneur, The Good Men Project, the Sound Wisdom Blog, as well as numerous academic journals.