No one else can ever tell you what you truly want.
You are the only one who knows.
Stop following what’s expected.
And dare to go after the life you want.
Finding My Own Way
I never had a chance to live a normal life.
For starters, my full name is Ignatius Kutu Acheampong Blackson.
My mother’s from Japan and didn’t speak a word of anything but Japanese before marrying my father—a Ghanaian healer, who didn’t speak a word of Japanese. (He still doesn’t.) They wed as strangers, agreeing to marry before they had ever seen each other.
That’s what I call blind faith.
I was named after the former president of Ghana, where my father was the spiritual advisor to two presidents and founded more than three hundred churches before the president was murdered and we fled to London when I was three. My first memories are of seeing my father perform amazing miracles. He would literally heal the lame, deaf, and blind. I will never forget being lost in the crowd following my father and watching a crippled woman crawl on the ground, pick up the sand that my father walked on, smear it on her face, and stand up. (I know. I wouldn’t have believed it either, except I saw it with my own eyes.)
I grew up seeing proof that miracles happen.
My father founded a church in London, which grew into a collection of West African refugees, Jamaicans, and West Indians. Soon five thousand congregants would gather on Sundays to hear my father preach, to sing songs that reminded them of their homeland, and to pray for healing.
Because I was my parents’ only child and male, everyone expected that I would follow in the footsteps of my father and take over his churches one day. This was made clear when I was eight and my father called me up onstage to give a sermon. I had been snoozing in the pews. (I didn’t want to be in church, I wanted to be playing soccer with my friends!) I felt a tap on my shoulder and someone said, “Your father wants you to go up and preach.”
I sat up, confused, rubbed the sleep from my eyes, and walked up to the podium where my father stood. “Go ahead, son,” he said.
I stood in front of the darkened sanctuary, thousands of eyes focused on me, my father looking at me expectantly.
What was I supposed to say?
And then I just began. The words started flowing out of me. Afterward, I didn’t even remember what I had said, but the congregation was in tears, deeply moved by the message that had come through me. Evidently I had talked about the power of having a vision, that Jesus, when he needed to feed the crowd of five thousand, didn’t look at the meager offerings of a few fish and loaves of bread but instead turned his eyes upward, to the hills. He looked not down at his limitations but up to a higher plane.
After that day, people began calling me “Little Bishop” or “Pastor Kute.” And part of me loved it. I loved spirituality. As soon as I could read, I’d curl up in my room with any book I could find. By the time I was thirteen, I had discovered the books on my father’s bookshelves and was reading metaphysical tomes by authors like Neville Goddard and Joel Goldsmith. They fed my unquenchable thirst to try and understand life. Who are we? Where do we come from? Why do we do what we do? Reading these books helped me to answer some of these questions and to contribute to the many spiritual conversations in our household. My father’s attitude has always been “Other than God, what else is there to talk about?”
It was when I read the American self-help gurus of the nineties—Deepak Chopra, Louise Hay, Jack Canfield, and others—that my obsession really took root. These thought leaders weren’t limited by having to follow a set of dictates, but were following their own path, away from organized religion, with its churches, collars, and collection plates. They were creating new ways of being spiritual, inside conference rooms and lecture halls.
They were reaching people who had never set foot in a church and inspiring them to lead powerful, meaningful lives.
There was something in their teachings that resonated with me. For my entire life, the power had resided with the preachers and healers, with God. But these teachers believed that the power was within you and me.
And somewhere deep down I began to realize that I wanted to be a part of that kind of spirituality. While I loved my father and knew that he reached hundreds of thousands of people with his preaching and healings, the more I began to read and develop my own belief system, the less I could envision myself staying in London and leading his church. I felt like I wanted to make my own way, develop my own answers, outside of organized religion.
I started sneaking into the empty church late at night to preach to the empty pews. I’d stand there behind my father’s podium, staring at the empty chairs in front of me. I’d close my eyes and imagine them filled with people. I’d open my mouth and begin to preach.
In my mind, I wasn’t there in the dark sanctuary of my father’s church. In my mind I was in Madison Square Garden. I had often watched the World Wrestling Federation matches that took place in that immense stadium. It was the only large venue in America that I knew about.
But exactly where I was preaching wasn’t what was important.
What was important was that deep down I felt like something was calling me to America. In London, the only spiritual conversations happening were in churches. There just was nothing like the emergence of spirituality that was happening in Southern California. I had learned a lot from my father and so much from his books, but I wanted to go to America and see if I could find a way to preach, like my father, but to reach a whole different audience and share a whole different message.
I didn’t tell anyone how I was feeling. I kept that desire, that dream, buried deep. It felt silly. Crazy. How was I going to get to America? Where would I even go? I didn’t know anyone. All I knew was right here in London in this church.
One day shortly after I turned fourteen, my dad made a formal announcement to the church. “My brethren, my son, Kute, will be ordained! He will be taking over my churches!”
The congregation erupted with applause. My father and all who followed him were counting on me to pick up the mantle and lead in his style and tradition, in honor of the old-timers and the new generation alike. They expected me to graduate from high school, go to college, and then come back to my rightful place at the head of the church.
I smiled and nodded at all the applause. But inside, I felt sick to my stomach.
If I was ever going to follow my calling and go to America, I was going to have to tell my father the truth.
So did I walk right up to him after the services and say, Thanks, Father, for that announcement, but you know, we need to have a chat?
I said nothing. Why? I was afraid.
I was afraid that he would be angry at me for not doing what was expected. I was afraid to listen to the desires brewing deep in my heart.
So I waited some more—another three years, to be exact. I pretended that everything was fine, that I’d take over my father’s churches, that nothing was amiss.
What Was I Waiting For?
And then when I was seventeen, I picked up a book about the life of Jiddu Krishnamurti.
Krishnamurti was one of the great spiritual thinkers of our day. And like me, he was expected, at a very young age, to take over a particular spiritual tradition. Krishnamurti and his brother had been adopted by the president of the Theosophical Society, a spiritual organization founded in the late 1800s that moved to India a few years after its formation in New York.
Krishnamurti’s adoptive parents soon identified within him the temperament and wisdom that would make him an incredible spiritual teacher. Thus while he was still very young, his parents proclaimed Krishnamurti was the world teacher that the Theosophists had been waiting for. In order to prepare for his impact on the world, they created a new order and made Krishnamurti the head.
And for many years Krishnamurti went along with this plan.
But when he was twenty-nine, Krishnamurti shocked his parents, the Theosophists, and the world by declining this calling, dissolving the order, and returning all the money and property that had been donated to it. He began to teach on his own, unaffiliated, about the power of mankind. “In oneself lies the whole world, and if you know how to look and learn, the door is there and the key is in your hand. Nobody on earth can give you either the key or the door to open, except yourself.”
When I read about Krishnamurti’s daring choice, I felt like I heard my soul screaming at me and grabbing me by the shoulders, shaking me and shouting, “KUTE! KUTE! Wake up! Stop ignoring me! You too can go your own way. You too can make your own path. Look at Krishnamurti. What would the world be if he’d just followed the path laid out for him?”
From the moment I read those words, I KNEW. I knew.
I had to tell my father.
There was no going back.
The Scariest Moment of My Life
By this time I was about to finish high school, and most of my classmates were preparing to go to college. That’s what everyone expected me to do, too. And I could have. I could have put off the conversation for another few years, gone to college, and then faced my father. But after reading Krishnamurti, I didn’t want to wait any longer. I didn’t want to go to university for four years, learning stuff from an institution, from books, instead of out there, where life was happening. I wanted to go to America NOW, not later. There would always be time for school.
I was tired of waiting. I was ready to start to experience life.
I went to find my mother. My mother is a quiet soul, full of more faith than anyone I know. She has so much trust, in my father, in me, in life. She has always been my biggest cheerleader. My father traveled a lot, so it was often just the two of us at home. We’d developed a very close relationship. I knew I could trust her to help me gather the courage to speak to my father.
I found her in the kitchen, cooking. I walked in and sat at the kitchen table. We’d had countless conversations in this room as I’d work on homework while she was preparing dinner for the two of us. She turned to look at me and smiled.
But today I didn’t carry any books with me. My hands were shaking. I tried to press them hard to the table, to calm myself down. But it didn’t work. “Mother,” I said, “where’s Father?”
“He’s upstairs resting before evening services,” she said as she stirred.
I took a deep breath. “I think I have to tell him something,” I said quietly.
She turned to look at me and saw the expression on my face. She put down the spoon, wiped her hands on a towel, and came to sit down next to me. She took my shaking hands into her own tiny ones.
“Yes, Kute, what is it?”
“I’m not going to do it. I can’t take over his ministry. I just . . . I want to do something else. I want to go to America and see what kind of life might be waiting for me there,” I said, thankful to have gotten it out.
“You want to go to America?” she asked.
I nodded my head.
“After college?” she asked.
I shook my head no.
“Okay,” she said quietly, nodding. “Okay. I know you are afraid, but your father will understand. Deep down, Kute, he just wants you to be happy. Do you think this will make you happy?”
“Then I’ll do everything I can to help you get to America,” she said as she squeezed my hands.
I jumped up from the chair and enveloped her in a hug. “Thank you,” I whispered into her hair. It felt so good to get the truth out to the one person I loved so deeply and to have her tell me it was okay. And that she’d help me.
I now faced the harder task.
My mother had supported me at every juncture of my life. I knew that she would support this decision as well. But my father? We had a different relationship. I knew he loved me, but I felt a deep level of expectation from him. The day that he called me onstage to preach when I was eight, he did nothing to prepare me for it; he just expected that I would handle it. And he has expected me to do the right thing ever since.
Up until this moment I had never let him down.
My mother directed me upstairs, where my father was resting in his bedroom. She waited at the foot of the stairs as I continued on. I turned around in terror.
“Go,” she whispered.
I took each step slowly. Part of me wanted to stop and turn around and run back to my room. Forget it. It can wait. Maybe you don’t really need to go to America. Give it up.
But the other part of me—the part that believed that there was something calling me to America—was stronger. That part of me forced me to keep walking up the stairs, even though I felt like each foot was a fifty-pound weight, each step heavier than the last.
I finally made it to the landing. I stood in front of his door. I knocked.
“Come in,” I heard.
I slowly opened the door. My father was lying on the bed, his eyes closed. When I entered, he opened them and sat up. “Yes, son, what is it?”
“Father,” I stammered. “I have to tell you something.”
My father turned and placed his feet on the floor. He motioned for me to sit on the bed next to him.
I shook my head no. I just needed to do it.
“I’m not going to take over your churches. I can’t . . . It’s . . . not what I want to do,” I said. I felt like blood was rushing to my head; I could hardly even hear my own voice.
My father nodded slowly. He looked me in the eye. “Are you sure?” he said, his eyes solemn.
“Yes,” I said, nodding.
“Are you sure?” he asked again.
“Okay, then,” he said. And he lay back down.
I was dismissed.
I quickly ran out of the room, down the stairs, past my mother, and out of the house.
I didn’t stop running. Tears were streaming down my face. I knew in some ways I’d broken my father’s heart. I’d crushed one of his dreams.
But I’d finally made room for my own.
As I ran, the sadness started to melt away.
Instead, I just felt . . . free.
For the first time in my life.
We all face moments in life where we feel that impulse inside to do something different. But we often stay where we are, where it is comfortable, rather than daring to dream big.
It’s not worth it.
Safety is not a recipe for success.
But you’ve got to be prepared for the free fall.
There’s a moment after you do something daring when you go, “Oh, shit! What have I done?”
The moment after you jump out of a plane or off a cliff.
The moment you first say “I love you.”
The moment you tell someone the truth you’ve been holding back.
The moment you leave the job you hate to start your own business.
It’s a free fall.
You don’t know whether to look up for something to grab on to or look down for something to cushion your fall.
In the fear, in the uncertainty, is the invitation of life.
I’ve learned more than once that the degree to which you embrace the unknown is the degree to which you are free.
That night I lay in bed. Terrified. Exhilarated. But freaking out. As I lay there unable to sleep, on the cusp of what felt like the beginning of my life, I prayed. “God! If you are real, if you are really up there, you have to help me. I want to follow you, but I do not know what I am doing. I do not know how I will ever get to America. Please, please help.”
It was probably one of the truest, most humble prayers I have ever uttered.
A few days later, I was in the library of my school, surrounded by all my classmates preparing to leave for college, and there I was, with no college acceptance, no money, and no plan. I had always excelled at school, and yet when others asked what I was doing next year, I didn’t have an answer.
And then a man I had never seen before came up and gave me a copy of The Economist. He didn’t say anything. He just walked up, put the magazine on the table in front of me, and walked away.
Um, thanks, man!
I’d never read The Economist before. I looked at the cover. Curious, I started flipping through it until I got to the section in the back where they include a number of advertisements.
And got chills as I read one of them.
The American Government is giving away 55,000 green cards in the green card lottery. Apply now!
I kid you not.
As I said, I got chills.
And I knew.
That was my message from the universe. You have support. This will happen.
I practically ran home that afternoon and showed the ad to my mother. We called the American law firm that was handling the submissions and had them send us the proper forms in the mail. We filled them out carefully and mailed them back. The law firm would then submit them to the government. The winners would be announced by September 18. If you hadn’t heard anything by September 18, you hadn’t won a visa.
That was the longest summer of my life.
You can imagine how many days I ran out to the mailbox, praying that this would be the day my dream came true.
Day after day, nothing came.
Finally September 18 arrived.
And there was no visa waiting for me in the mailbox.
Well, I’m not going to lie. I was a bit pissed at the universe.
I picked at my dinner that night. My mother tried to assure me that there would be another way. But I was ready to give up. That ad had been an answer to my prayer! How could it not have come through?
Still angry, I went to bed and spent several hours tossing and turning. But then at midnight, BBBRRRRRING!
My mother rushed into my room. “Kute, a lawyer is on the phone for you!”
I bounded out of bed and into my parents’ bedroom, where the receiver was sitting on my mother’s side of the bed.
I picked up the receiver.
“Is this Mr. Blackson?” an American voice asked.
“Yes, it is,” I responded, my palms slick and clammy.
“This is the law firm that applied for your green card on your behalf. I’m calling to tell you we’ve just received your notification today. You have won a green card!”
“No,” I said in shock. Then “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” I was jumping up and down, my mother watching with amusement.
The lawyer explained that I would be receiving the visa in the mail in a matter of weeks.
I hung up, shaking from head to toe. This time not out of fear, but out of joy.
It was all worth it. The years I kept the dream buried. The terrifying moment when I told my father what I wanted to do. The many questions I received from my peers when I told them I wasn’t going to college.
I was going to America.
Throughout my life, every time I have taken a chance that has seemed crazy at the time, life has come through for me. I believe that your dreams were given to you for a reason. And that encoded in your dreams are the seeds for its fulfillment. But you have to learn to trust life. You have to learn to let go of safety and not to surrender to fear.
You have to dare to dream.
Are you living the life of YOUR dreams? Don’t snuff out those feelings of dissatisfaction that you carry inside. Those feelings are there for a reason. They are beckoning you to something bigger. They are asking you to dare to live the life of YOUR choosing.
So when you find yourself saying, “Well, I’m happy enough. This is good enough,” let me tell you something: Life is not about compromise.
Do not compromise whatever dream may be bubbling in your heart.
That impulse to dream, to dare, to discover . . . comes from your soul.
We’ve been taught to live small. We’ve been taught to seek a nice, comfy life with a big house and a family and a job that pays the bills. That’s what we are supposed to want. That is supposed to be good enough. That’s what “normal” people want.
But it doesn’t always fill you up, does it?
Here’s what I have to say.
To hell with normal.
It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
Is normal staying in a relationship with someone you don’t love because that’s what your family expects of you?
Is normal to have a job you hate just to pay the bills and to keep up with those around you?
Is normal abusing your body with all sorts of artificial drugs and medical procedures to fit what the media deems as beautiful?
Is normal postponing happiness until you retire?
Trying to be normal is a recipe for mediocrity.
You were not made for a normal life.
Because normal denies you the chance to be yourself.
It ignores the unique, beautiful mark you can leave on the world. As unique as your fingerprint. As stunning as the most magical sunset.
To be normal you’ve got to try and fit in.
While the world is starved for your unique ray of light.
So shed the layer. You are not normal.
Stop pretending you’re a lightbulb when you are really the sun.
Nothing great was done by fitting in and being normal and walking the path that everyone walks.
Gandhi. Picasso. Bob Marley. John Lennon. Maya Angelou. Richard Branson. Martin Luther King, Jr. J. K. Rowling. Nelson Mandela. Elvis Presley. Muhammad Ali. Elon Musk. Bruce Lee. Oprah. Malala Yousafzai.
These people are great because they dared to question the status quo.
The moment you leave status quo in the dust is the point at which you can see your life unfold bigger and better than ever before.
When I won my green card, I decided I’d move to Los Angeles. The epicenter of the American spirituality movement was in Southern California, and I knew I wouldn’t be the only crazy one in LA, arriving with just a suitcase and a dream. LA was the place for dreamers. I’d fit right in.
I didn’t know anyone there. I didn’t know where I was going to stay. But I had bought a map of Los Angeles and had studied it every night. All the roads, the neighborhoods. Street by street, I committed it to memory.
My mother helped me buy a plane ticket to LA and then gave me $1,200. Now, we did not have much as a family. Everything was shared with the church. We didn’t even own the house we lived in; it was owned by the church. I have no idea how my mother managed to accumulate this kind of cash. But she knew I needed something to get me started. I’d need a place to live, money for food. She wasn’t going to be there to take care of me. I’d be on my own.
It was an amazing gift she gave me.
The morning of my flight, I woke up calm. Something about this felt destined, as if it was bigger than me. I ate one last breakfast with my parents and then grabbed my two suitcases. One was filled with clothes, the other with my beloved books. As I said goodbye to my mother, she kissed me on the cheek and said, “I love you. Call me when you get there.”
And then she sent me on my way.
My father and I got in the car. We drove the hour and a half to the airport in silence. He parked the car and helped me check my two bags. When we got to the security lines, it was time to say goodbye.
I turned toward him. He smiled and laid his hand on my forehead. He gave me a blessing. “My son, you have a mission in your life. I bless your soul. I bless your journey. I bless you. I love you.”
I hugged him and then turned toward security. I wove through the lines and then looked back at my father. He raised his hand in goodbye. And then turned away and walked toward the exit.
I couldn’t see him anymore.
I was on my own. And I was exactly where I was meant to be.
I often say that the day I told my father I would not be taking over his churches was the day I became a man.
It was the day I took responsibility for my life. It was the day when I finally acknowledged how I was feeling, finally listened to the cry of my soul.
What if I hadn’t allowed that voice to emerge?
I’d probably be preaching in my father’s church today.
Is that a bad thing?
But was it what I really wanted to do?
I might have looked successful on the outside.
But I know, I know, that inside, my soul would be dying.
Don’t be afraid of your dreams.
Your dreams have chosen you for a reason. Because you are the perfect person to fulfill them.
You just have to say yes. And then the universe will respond.
If you dare to look inside and discover what you truly want, like really deeply want—more than money, more than sex, more than the Cubs winning the World Series—find it, and dare to make it happen? The universe will find a way.
I am living proof.
Playing small serves no one. When you shine your light, it reminds those around you of the very same light inside themselves. You being yourself fully is the greatest gift you can give the world.
A Bold Adventure in Finding Purpose, Discovering the Real You, and Loving Fully
You Are The One
A Bold Adventure in Finding Purpose, Discovering the Real You, and Loving Fully
Kute Blackson comes from a long line of spiritual leaders and works with people from all walks of life, offering his own uniquely powerful process to transform lives from the inside out. His inspirational and life-changing YouTube videos, seminars, and conferences are known throughout the world, but it’s his trademark transformation experiences that sets him apart. The intensive one-on-one and one-of-a-kind transformational mother of all trips is a 14-day, 24/7 journey into such remote places as the bowels of India where the client—armed with nothing but a backpack, a change of clothes, and a journal—works with Blackson until he discovers what he hasn’t yet found. Whether it’s about forgiveness, confronting inner demons, letting go of self-hatred or the scars of the past, those hard-earned, sweat-proof lessons Blackson instills in his clients are right here, in this book, You Are The One. No need to pack your bags or renew your passport.
So what are you waiting for?
For someone to save you? If so, you’re not alone. But it’s not going to happen. Your parents won’t rescue you. Your friends won’t carry you. No one’s coming. Know why? Everything you are seeking is within you already. Because you’re already here. You. Are. The. ONE.
You Are The One is a reflection of Blackson’s unique and distinctive thoughts, teachings, stories, and poetic inspirations to help you access your true power and live boldly and fully in the world—with no regrets.