Throw Out Your Goals

Brad Pitt. A friend on mine told me a story about him. We were talking about how we’re surrounded by people who’ve not only chased their dreams, but have achieved them. What most people don’t see is their perseverance. Pitt had dropped out of college, moved to the city of angels, did a lot of odd jobs like wearing a chicken suit to promote El Pollo Loco for years, before he landed his first major roll in Thelma & Louise. Now he’s one of the biggest movie stars in the world.

There was a study done on a high school class. The study followed late into their adult lives. It found those who stuck to one career path had earned and attained more than their combined classmates who didn’t. This story has floated around the self-help industry for many years, and is rumored to be just a folk tale. But its prevalence tells us a truth.

I was talking to a friend, and she’d reconnected with one of her long time classmates who works for Coke. This person is about ten years younger than I, but has climbed much higher on the corporate ladder. I’d always moved from job to job. She’s worked for Coke since high school, about eight years now, and illustrates an important point about consistency.

A few years ago, I went to a Renaissance Faire. I love them. My girlfriend at the time and I were watching a turtle race. Each person would place bets on a turtle of their choice. The race started. Contestants yelled and screamed, urging their turtle to crawl faster. One turtle, slow and steady, made great headway and was literally one step away from crossing the finish line. Then it stopped with one foot stuck in the air. All it had to do was place the foot down, and, bam, it won. It just froze. Another turtle from behind took the win.

So what’s the point? Once you find your passion in life, follow through with it. Whether success is truly overnight—it does happen—or takes time, love the process. If you love to act, go into every audition and act! If you love to work on projects for your company, or love reaching sales goals, go in every day and love working.

For the process is really what we love. The goals matter little. Why? Well what happens once an actor becomes a huge movie star like Pitt? What happens to the sales executive who reaches their ultimate sales goal? They continue to act, continue to sell, continue their work. All of them display a high level of dedication (knowing what they want), focus (loving what they do), and take each step toward their dreams (doing what they love).

Love your work. The goal will come.

Celebrate Letting Go

Let go.  This is a concept I'm working on in my life.  Letting go. I wanted to win, badly.  I was bowling with a bunch of coworkers, and we were on the second game.  I stepped left of the middle arrow, aimed my ball just right of the middle pin.  My breath was filled with anxiety.  I wanted to win.  Steps were taken and I swung.  Seven pins went down.

Fine.

I can take down three.  On my second bowl, I forced the ball down the lane and missed the pin by an inch.  Three pins remained standing, mocking me.  Crap!  I sat down as my coworkers took their turns.  Suddenly, I said fuck it, and decided to just have fun.  Turn after turn, I got spares, strikes, and celebrated each small victory.  I wasn't even paying attention to my score.  As a result of letting go, I'd bowled my best game.  Keep in mind that my average score is 100.  That day I bowled 186.

One day, as  a team building activity, my coworkers came up with a scavenger hunt that took us through an open mall.  There were about a dozen things we had to collect, and I wasn't really looking forward to it.  However, I took the time to appreciate what I had--health, job, awareness, food, bank account, etc.

Once we started, I wanted to win.  So did everyone else.  My team of three left in a hurry and started to read the clues to scavenge the items needed.  We seemed to find things pretty quickly, as I'm the worst navigator.  My other team member, never having been at that mall, seemed know the mall like the back of her hand.  She stated she loved malls.  Good enough.  I hoped we were ahead, hoped the other teams were falling behind.

Then we crossed several teams, indicating they were all ahead of us.  I was bummed.  In that moment, I let go without knowing I let go.  I decided to just have fun.  To appreciate the day that my company was paying for us to run around like kids.

As we scavenged and collected, we neared the end of the list.  The very last clue urged us to go to the restaurant we were to eat lunch.  Our gait turned to a speed walk, turned to skipping, turned to a jog, then we stopped.  The restaurant came into view, and our managers were standing there waiting for us.  They were not allowed to participate, but to verify what we collected were correct.  And we were first.  How could this be when we were behind?  Several minutes passed, and the other teams dragged themselves to the final station.

I'd let go without knowing.

Throughout my life, I've noticed that when I tried to control the other team by hoping they'd do badly, I would do badly.  Only when I focused on what I was doing, caring about what I did, and, most importantly, had fun, I did well.  Not only that, but when I celebrated my minor successes, not showboating, my successes increased.

How do you let go?

Focus on what you're doing, have fun, celebrate each success, learn from the failures that are disguised as lessons.