Dave Hollis still cringes slightly when he remembers the speech he gave at the Hollis Company Christmas party in 2019.
“I audaciously, to our collective team at a Christmas party, said I was going to have my best year ever in 2020,” The New York Times bestselling author and host of the Rise Together podcast told The Christian Post.
“I'd saved it for my 45th year on the planet, it was going to be the best year ever. And what I did not appreciate in the declaration was that I would not have a say in the conditions through which my best year would show up.”
That year, Hollis weathered a highly publicized divorce from his wife, Rachel Hollis, the controversial self-help author of Girl Wash Your Face. His book tour was subsequently canceled, and he transitioned away from the company he’d spent years building with his wife.
Navigating a pandemic, grappling with the fallout from the end of a yearslong marriage and parenting four children alone, Hollis said, was anything but easy.
"2020 was the hardest year of my life, outpacing any other year by a factor of 100," he told CP. “But it was also the best. As I look back, 18 months removed from the hardest things that I've ever been through — I don't want to relive them, but I can sit here today with a wild amount of gratitude for having gone through them, because of the way that it brought me to my knees and drew me closer to God.”
Though he’s been a professing Christian his entire life, Hollis said the events of 2020 forced him to examine what he truly believed.
“Telling people that you have faith is something that is easy until you go through really, really hard things,” he said. “I realized how much stronger my faith could be because it had been tested.”
He cited James 4:8, which reads, in part: “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”
“I found myself, because of the conditions around me, closer to God than I'd ever been. And in that, I developed faith that the things that I would need in this journey would show up when I needed them. When you do that, you find God in unexpected places.”
Though shaken by the events of 2020, for Hollis, leaning into the unexpected and stepping out of his comfort zone is nothing new.
In 2018, he made headlines after announcing he was leaving his lucrative job as president of distribution for Walt Disney Studios to become CEO of his then-wife’s company and relocate his family to Texas. Over the years, the company saw staggering success, and the couple would host “Rachel and Dave” episodes of the "Rise Together" podcast.
So when the couple announced their divorce in July 2020, it sent shockwaves throughout their loyal fanbase.
Hollis admitted that over the last several years, his “primary identity” was in being a husband to Rachel Hollis — and “that loss allowed me to find myself and my ability to be resilient through pain.”
It took a season of journaling, prayer and self-discovery, Hollis said, but today’s he’s the “strongest” he’s ever been, mentally, emotionally, relationally and spiritually."
“I just have a massive amount of gratitude for everything that's happened, even though I wouldn't have wanted it to go down the way that it did,” he said.
Today, Hollis is on a mission to help others cultivate courage in the face of adversity, find their God-given purpose and understand that failure is a requirement for growth. His latest book, Built Through Courage: Face Your Fears to Live the Life You Were Meant, seeks to help readers do just that.
“There is, for every single one of us, a very intentional purpose that our Creator has placed us on this planet for, and our work in this life we have is to do everything we can, every single day, to honor the intention of that Creator,” he stressed.
“But doing that work, finding a way to step closer to our purpose or honor that intention, is something that requires courage, because it often requires leaving what we've known for what we need; transitioning from who we were to who we're becoming. That can be uncomfortable both for us and can make the people who have become accustomed to who we've been uncomfortable as we grow into who we were meant to be.”
In his book, Hollis draws on life experiences and wisdom from others to offer practical advice for leading well during a crisis and pushing past one’s comfort zone to find true freedom. He urges readers to have an “honest conversation” with themselves, showing “radical candor” about where they are — and where they want to be.
“Own where you are and where you’re starting from, cast a visit to where you want to go,” he advised. “That needs to be connected to what you believe, because that’s the greatest way of honoring the intention of your Creator. And then, get specific about what it’s going to take to get there.”
One life-changing moment that occurred in the wake of his divorce, Hollis said, was when he realized that he’d been chasing his wife’s goals and vision instead of identifying the calling God placed before him.
“I think there are times when, in the pursuit to achieve or in an attempt to be loved or affirmed, we can make the mistake of chasing things that we believe other people are interested in us achieving, or that the achievement will affirm us in some way, instead of staying connected to that voice inside of us that's attempting to guide us to where we're meant to go,” he reflected.
“There is something in your gut that is saying you should be going in this direction, but we often trust others more than we trust ourselves. It’s important to trust that voice, to separate yourself from the noise that might distract you from what it's trying to tell you and to listen to it in a way that allows you to step closer to it.”
Hollis understands that being refined through fire isn’t easy — but it’s worth it. And to those struggling to find their purpose, he offered the reminder that “God put you here for a very, very specific reason,” adding: “He's given you the tools to achieve something greater than you can even believe if you can believe it yourself.”
“Part of that is understanding that you are a limited edition, one of one, there is no one like you, with your wiring, with the way you think or feel, the way you love, the experiences that you’ve had,” he continued.
“There is an opportunity to step closer to that purpose that only you can live out on this Earth … I want to encourage people to step closer every day to that purpose and find exactly where God wants them to be.”