Skip to Main Content

On Fire

The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life

LIST PRICE ₹599.00


About The Book

In the bestselling tradition of Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly and Nick Vujicic’s Life Without Limits comes a rousing 7-step plan for living a life on fire, filled with hope and possibility—from an inspirational speaker who survived a near-fatal fire at the age of nine and now runs a successful business inspiring people all around the world.

When John O’Leary was nine years old, he was almost killed in a devastating house fire. With burns on one hundred percent of his body, O’Leary mustered an almost unimaginable amount of inner strength just to survive the ordeal. The insights he gained through this experience and the heroes who stepped into his life to help him through the journey—his family, the medical staff, and total strangers—changed his life. Now he is committed to living life to the fullest and inspiring others to do the same.

An incredible and emotionally honest account of triumph over tragedy, On Fire contains O’Leary’s reflections on being that little boy, the life-giving choices made then, and the resulting lessons he learned. O’Leary very clearly shares that without the right people providing the right guidance, at the right time, he never would have made it through those five months in the hospital, let alone the years that followed as he struggled to regain mobility, embrace his story, and ignite clarity of his life’s purpose.

On Fire encourages us to seize the power to choose our path and transform our lives from mundane to extraordinary. Once we stop thinking solely on the big moments in our lives, we can begin to focus on those smaller opportunities that tend to pass us by. These are the events—the inflection points in our lives—that can determine how we feel about life now, where we are headed in the future, and how many lives we can impact along the way. We can’t always choose the path we walk, but we can choose how we walk it. Empowering, inspiring, remarkably honest, and heartfelt, O’Leary’s strength and incredible spirit shine through on every page.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for On Fire includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


When John O’Leary was nine years old, he was severely burned on one hundred percent of his body in a devastating fire that also nearly destroyed his family’s home. Nobody expected him to survive the first night. Against overwhelming odds, though, John did survive, and endured months in a hospital, dozens of surgeries, and losing his fingers to amputation. But John’s real fight truly began when he left the hospital and had to adjust to his new reality, to strive every day for small milestones, and to live a life with purpose and positivity.

The insights and inner strength John gained through this experience and the heroes who stepped into his world to help him through the journey—his family, the medical staff, and total strangers—changed his life. Now he is committed to living life to the fullest and inspiring others to do the same.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. John says at the beginning of the book that, if given the choice, he would choose to do it all over again—to be burned, to go through the surgeries and the rehab. Why do you think he feels that way? What has he gained from this traumatic experience?

2. Consider the choice John’s mother offers him in the emergency room: “Do you want to die? It’s your choice.” While most of us may not face such a dramatic choice, we do all experience what John calls “inflection points,” or moments that can change everything. What are some of the choices that have changed the course of your own life?

3. John’s tone throughout On Fire is frank, honest, and even humorous at times. Why do you think John is able to reflect, years later, on his painful experiences with this kind of wit and good spirit? Can you think of a time in your life when humor made a difficult situation more bearable/relatable?

4. How did John’s parents, particularly his mother, affect the course of his rehab? What lessons did she teach him through tough love? Did John as a child appreciate her method? Does he appreciate her method today?

5. Consider the epigraph from Henri J.M. Nouwen for Chapter 2: “In our own woundedness, we can become sources of life for others” (page 25). How does John become a source of life, and inspiration, for others? Are there other people—either in your own life, or in the larger world—who also serve as examples of this concept?

6. John decides upon leaving the hospital that he will pretend that everything is normal. He does not share his story with his closest friends, and then in college he uses alcohol as a “mask.” What does it take for John to accept himself, “dimples, pimples, scars and all”? (page 39). How does this relate to your life?

7. How did John’s parents’ book, Overwhelming Odds, and the process of writing and promoting it, change John’s own outlook? How did it become a turning point for John in his own life?

8. John says that many of us see and value ourselves through others’ eyes. How does John’s family—his wife, his children—help him to see the gift in his scars? How does his value in others’ eyes change over time?

9. Before his accident, John wasn’t sure if his brother Jim even liked him; but after the accident, John knew: Jim didn’t just like him, he loved him. How can a traumatic event like this one bring families together, or show the true nature of our relationships?

10. Dr. Ayvazian includes Lavelle, the janitor, on rounds each morning to show him that his work matters, that his work has a purpose: by keeping John’s room clean, Lavelle was protecting John from life-threatening infections. Why is it important for every individual to feel purpose and motivation in their daily work?

11. John shares that he recently chose to express his love and gratitude to his dad, who has Parkinson’s disease. What has John learned about his own purpose from his father’s attitude toward his disease, and what does this teach us about the choices we can make in our own lives?

12. Think of all the people along the way who inspired John during his recovery: his parents, his siblings, Dr. Ayvazian, Glenn Cunningham, Nurse Roy, the physical therapists Brenda and Maureen, and of course, Jack Buck. Who do you think made the biggest impact on John’s life? Why?

13. How can you take the 7 choices and apply them in your life? What might get in your way? What’s your next step toward leading a radically inspired life?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. John was greatly influenced and affected by Man’s Search for Meaning by Dr. Viktor E. Frankl. Read and discuss this book for an upcoming book club meeting. How does Frankl’s view of experiencing and living life after tragedy compare to John’s?

2. Like Jack Buck, Glenn Cunningham, and John O’Leary himself, ask yourself the question What more can I do? Discuss with your book club: What can you do together as a group to give back to the community? From volunteering to writing letters to collecting and donating items to a charity, discuss the options and take the first step together!

3. Learn more about John O’Leary and his inspirational speaking, read John’s blog, or sign up for a weeklong inspirational email program to kickstart your own transformation: 


About The Author


John O’Leary shares his expertise on overcoming adversity and how to live inspired with more than 50,000 people at more than 120 live events each year around the world. In 2006, he was inducted into the Energizer “Keep Going” Hall of Fame. He was selected as Saint Louis University young alumni of the year in 2008, was voted “Speaker of the Year” for Vistage International, and was recently chosen as one of the Top Ten “Most Interesting People” in Saint Louis, Missouri. He is also a lifestyle contributor for He considers his greatest success to be his marriage to Beth, their four young children, and his relationships with friends and family.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Gallery Books (March 16, 2016)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501117725

Raves and Reviews

My company gets the chance to hear from some of the country’s best speakers, and my friend John O’Leary is one of the best we’ve ever had. His incredible story of persistence, passion, and intense focus left a mark on my team that we we're still talking about more than a year later. Don’t miss John’s message—he will change your life!

– Dave Ramsey, New York Times best-selling author and nationally syndicated radio show host

On Fire, by John O’Leary, celebrates the beauty of LIFE! Through courageously sharing his own pain and devastating loss, O’Leary reveals how crucial it is for us to keep moving forward after a setback or trial—still hope, still dream, still see the possibilities before us. Eventually we must all make the choice to truly live or just exist. A magnificent and inspiring read!

– Sean Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens and The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make

I can count on one hand the number of books I’ve read that created an urgency to push away my fears and past mistakes to step fully into life. Drawn in by John’s incredible story and conversational writing style, On Fire helped me see life’s trials as steppingstones to an enhanced version of me. John’s powerful truths enabled me to stop seeing what I can’t do and see the opportunities still available. On Fire offers a redemptive invitation to all, leading us to believe that no matter how many times we’ve fall down, no matter how dismal the current situation, the best is yet to come.

– Rachel Macy Stafford, New York Times bestselling author of Hands Free Life

John O’Leary is truly one of the most amazing humans on theplanet. His story will not only inspire you but give you practical ideas forhow to enjoy your life more, appreciate all that you have, and push you toachieve all that you are capable of doing.

– Rory Vaden, Cofounder of Southwestern Consulting and New York Times bestselling author of Take the Stairs

There a rare handful of people in the world whose life story will change you forever. John O'Leary is one of these people. The powerful life lessons in this book will forever inspire you to live, lead and love differently.

– Tommy Spaudling, New York Times bestselling author of The Heart-Led Leader and It’s Not Just Who You Know

John is the embodiment of someone who made a powerful choice to not be defined by his challenges. This book is a reminder to us all that no matter what happens in life, we deserve and are capable of discovering our passion, pursuing our dreams and making a meaningful impact on the world.

– Christine Hassler, author of Expectation Hangover

Fast-paced, emotional and surprisingly funny, On Fire is an amazing reminder that we might not be able to choose the path we walk in life, but we can always choose the manner in which we walk it.

– Joe Buck, Fox Sports

This is a book about coming alive -- about practicing courage and fully showing up at home, work, and with the people we love. John is a storyteller, change-maker, and cage-rattler. Reading this book is like having a good friend look you square in the eye and say, 'The time to be brave is now.'

– Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers Daring Greatly and Rising Strong

If you haven’t heard John O’Leary speak from the platform of a sold out arena, you’re missing out on an incredible message. But you’re in luck! John has put his inspirational and life-changing message into this brilliant book. His story and words of wisdom will not only encourage you, they will ignite a passion to live your life to the fullest.

– Les Parrott, Ph.D. #1 New York Times best-selling author of You're Stronger Than You Think

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images