In the movie Hurt Locker, which just won 6 Academy Awards, the main character Staff Sergeant William James says to his little son, who is playing with a Jack-in-a-box:
You love playing with that. You love playing with all your stuffed animals. You love your Mommy, your Daddy. You love your pajamas. You love everything, don’t ya? Yea. But you know what, buddy? As you get older… some of the things you love might not seem so special anymore. Like your Jack-in-a-Box. Maybe you’ll realize it’s just a piece of tin and a stuffed animal. And then you forget the few things you really love. And by the time you get to my age, maybe it’s only one or two things. With me, I think it’s one.
I loved the movie but I loved that quote even more.
What do you really love?
It’s a scary thought, especially, when you take away all of the people in your life that you love.
Sergeant William James is an adrenaline junkie who is the leader of a U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal. He will do anything for the thrill of defusing a bomb that could vaporize him instantly. So much so that he left his family to do the one and only thing he really loves over and over again.
I wonder if this is the key to achieving remarkable success. To love what you do so much that you’re willing to forgo everything else in your life.
If you look at almost every insanely successful person, they’ve put their hours in. Malcolm Gladwell says it’s 10,000 hours. He argues that whether you’re Bill Gates or the Beatles you’ve put in 10,000 hours of practice to become extraordinary successful.
But if you have a life, that’s very hard to do. However, if your entire life is what you love, you have a huge advantage.
So the question then becomes what do you love? Because no matter how much you try to convince yourself that you enjoy the process of mastery, it’s going to be very hard to put in those hours, unless you love the subject you’re trying to master.
“How much do you love what you’re doing?” is a great question to gauge potential success. In fact, that’s how Warren Buffet chooses who he’s going to invest in. “I have to look them in the eye and decide whether they love the business or they love the money. It’s fine if they love the money, but they have to love the business more.” he says.
Whenever I meet a fellow entrepreneur, I’m always curious to know what drives them. What ultimately gets them out of bed every morning? What keeps them up at night? I always follow up with, “Would you sit on a beach for $1,000,000 per year from nine to five?” And I’ll keep raising it if they don’t budge, until they eventually do, because everyone has a price.
Jim Collins who wrote one of the bestselling business books of all time, Good to Great, has a great way to look at it. In the introduction he writes:
As I was finishing this manuscript, I went for a run and an odd question popped into my mind: How much would someone have to pay me not to publish Good to Great?
It was an interesting thought experiment, given that I’d just spent the previous five years working on the research project and writing this book. Not there isn’t some number that might entice me to bury it, but by the time I crossed the hundred-million-dollar threshold, it was time to head back down the trail. Even that much couldn’t convince me to abandon the project.
Don’t get me wrong. 1 million bucks per year is a ridiculous amount of money. You could do a lot of things with that. But if your number isn’t all that high, and you’d consider a cool million per year, I don’t think you’re in love with your business all that much (job, career) and there’s nothing wrong with that!
And if you don’t love what you do, you can at least love the life your work provides. I just think it’s very hard to achieve remarkable success.
What do you love?
[Check out the comments over at Brazen Careerist.com!]
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