I have gotten to the point where I don´t like to watch a lot of professional sporting events on TV. It has become very obvious to me that today`s overly paid and highly exalted sports stars in many arenas are starting to cop out on their play.
You see this the most in NFL football...you know...the quarterback runs and slides to the ground before he gets hit...often 1/2 yard short of a first down or touchdown. But you also see it in other sports such as soccer, basketball, and baseball. In soccer you see guys miss a key shot or header, then gets tapped by an opposing player who supposedly causes him to fall to the ground, writhing around like a spider in a hot frying pan...looking to draw a penalty and all too often getting the desired results from sympathetic referees. Today's replay cameras seem to have no effect on what these players do even though they know the next day the evidence of their play acting is so damning. In basketball and baseball we see more and more guys not jumping into the crowds to rescue errant balls or make a play. It is as if to say...I am paid too much for too little time to take a chance ending my career by going for that ball. For me, I miss the old guys like Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr and various other old style quarterbacks who used to do everything they could to reach a first down or touchdown. Players back then were allowed to play with half as many rules and less padding. Most of the older players never made more than a couple million dollars their whole careers but always played to win. Many of today´s players make 10-20 Million per YEAR...and still wont take a risk.
In business...and life in general...I see this phenomenon playing out too often. People are not willing to ¨go for it¨ when it comes to reaching their goals or dreams. It is much easier to take the safe road...play by all the rules and fit in to all the stereotypes of the society around us. I believe a majority of people I meet now are living lives of ¨quiet desperation¨...working in jobs or professions they hate...living in relationship to people they don't love, like or respect. Others live in total solitude because they have been hurt in previous relationships and are not willing to risk ¨getting hurt again¨. For most people it seems more important to play politics and be a ¨team player¨ in corporate settings versus standing out or standing ON principles.
While the masses tend to shun individuality...they still elevate the few characters who are willing to live on the edge, take huge risks and live through tremendous highs and lows in this life. The masses are not willing to live or replicate the actions or attitudes of these few, but they sure love to talk about them and revel in their spectator-ship of these people who are truly ¨going for it¨.
I have been reading the newest biography of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computers, who died last year. Here is a guy who while obviously intelligent was one of the most erratic, unpredictable and often despised personalities of the Computer age. Steve had all kinds of hangups and psycho baggage from being an orphan and growing up in the tumultuous late 60s and 70s of anti establishmentarianism (see...I´m not afraid to make up a new word). Yet, for all his weaknesses and lack of social graces, this guy pushed and focused on what HE wanted to do and create. He allowed his brilliant mind and strengths to overcome his perceived doubts and weaknesses. In his 57 short years he lived and tried more things...from lifestyles to religions to businesses...than a hundred other people might combined in that time-frame He was willing to ¨break the rules¨ and live originally...and he despised other people who didn't. He didn't care whether people liked or hated him...as long as HIS goals were achieved.
While I am not alluding that Steve Jobs as a person should be our role model of human behavior...I do think his devotion and passion for what he set out to accomplish SHOULD be one of the most inspiring models of our generation. He wasn't always right...but he was right more than he was wrong. He failed at a number of things, but he succeeded in two or three key goals that made him who he was and brought all the security financially he needed in this life. Yet...he was never really about the ¨money¨. He was about the hunt or pursuit of his dreams. He was about pushing boundaries further and further outside of his and others comfort zones. In these instances, it started with vision, proceeded with total devotion, and usually ended up with unprecedented success. Even in his last dying months...he continued to try and paint things his way...even for a future that he would not share.
I don´t want to be Steve Jobs, but I do want to emulate his dedication to independent pursuits of ambition and dreams. I do want to emulate his ability to bring others along behind him in his pursuit of excellence. And yes, I do want to emulate his ability to disregard institutional limitations and mass critique. I think that was central to his ability to produce as much as he did in the same amount of years I have already lived.
So...I now am GOING FOR IT in my business pursuits like never before. I am GOING FOR IT in playing new music that I have never played before and it is about what I like more than about what others like. I am GOING FOR IT in challenging others around me to think and do more than they currently are or think they can do. Most of us are operating at less than half our potentials. This should be unacceptable to us the second we recognize we are doing that.