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Ask Yourself Why-

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  • January 16, 2013
  • Mark Schulman

Garrett McNamara, who holds the record for largest wave ever surfed—a 90-footer he braved in Portugal has a simple and important belief about clarifying your goal.  Make sure you’re doing things for the right reasons. “If you’re doing anything for quick satisfaction because there’s a camera on the cliff or there’s big prize money, you’re going out for the wrong reasons and you’re doing it for ego.”

When I go back to analyze what I was trying to do when I failed my audition for Bad English, I was not clear on why I was doing it.  I was trying to be a rock star, more than being a drummer!  When I made the vows later, I zeroed in on particular capabilities. My path and the skill set I needed to develop became clear.  I had not zeroed in on those capabilities before or during the audition.  If I had had a drum teacher that had me focus on those capabilities in the first place and then told me to get the ‘stars out of my eyes, boy,’ and simply show them that I can drum, that would have been the real goal and my preparation would have been different…

Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh says, “If you’re passionate about something, and you know it inside and out, then it’s way easier. Rather than memorizing a speech you’ve written, just talk about stuff that you’re passionate about and that you already know. Then, all you really need are the high-level bullet points, and it’s just like a conversation with anyone.”

For Tony, at that point it doesn’t feel like work. When you remind yourself of the reason you chose to do your presentation, performance, launch, meeting or whatever, you can immediately cultivate that passion.  Tapping into that passion when you are feeling anxious gets you focused back on the goal.

Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould may be one of the greatest in the history of the sport, but he still has to go out every Sunday and prove himself to his coach and his fans all over again. But he doesn’t have to prove himself to himself.

“You’ve got to make every kick. That’s the mentality. The mentality is you’re only as good as your last kick. My mentality is that I’m only as good as my next kick—because I can’t do anything about what happened in the past. I can only learn from that and make it better for myself and for my team going forward.”

This man is very clear about why he is doing his job…

“I want the ball at the last second field goal to win or lose the game. I want to be that guy who everyone knows they can rely on in those situations. And, you know, at the end of the day, if you don’t think that you’re gonna be the best or try to strive to be the best at that position, then your career is probably gonna be a lot shorter.

“I don’t know how many kickers are gonna make it into the Hall of Fame. But I hope I have a hall of fame-type of career. If you’re not striving to be the best in your league or the best guitarist, the best drummer, the best linebacker, the best quarterback, you’re probably going to be just another guy and you’re not going to make the biggest impact on your team or in the community. When I say I’m going to do something, I’m all in, and I’m going to dedicate everything I have to doing it, and if that’s not good enough, then at the end of the day it just wasn’t meant to be.”


Action Step:

-Recall the first time you can remember when you realized that you were passionate about the very thing you are about to do?

-If you could have foreseen the future and this point where you are now, what positive feelings would you have had?


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