Do What You Hate

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I just got back from the gym. Perhaps not the earth-shattering news you’ve come to expect from this blog, but to get the full impact you have to know two things:

  1. I hate going to the gym (even though I go virtually every day); and,
  2. I really hate going to the gym in the morning!

But, because of some scheduling conflicts, it turns out that 7:30 this morning was the only time today I could go. Yes, I could have opted to simply not go at all. It would have been the easy choice. But that doesn’t make it the right choice, and herein lies our sermon for today.

A good friend of mine, Mike Rayburn, once said to me, “Most of us know exactly what we need to do…and just don’t do it.” (Incidentally, Mike is a world-class guitar virtuoso and a world-class speaker, and you should hire him for your next event. And by “him” I mean “me,” but you should hire Mike the following year.) I think what Mike said is very true. Most of us know exactly what we need to do in order to take our careers, our businesses, and our teams to the next level. We just don’t do it. Why? Here are just a few reasons:

  • not enough money
  • the timing isn’t quite right
  • the plan isn’t perfect yet
  • my numerologist advised against it
  • I’m too busy tweeting and blogging

Reasons aren’t the problem; we’ve got plenty of reasons. The real issue is fear. Fear of failure; fear of success. Doesn’t matter. The point is, we’re not doing what we need to do. We’re like the kid who’s been standing on the high dive for the past half hour, afraid to jump. Sure, it’s nice and safe up there on the diving board—but the real fun is in the pool. We’re all grown up now. It’s time to jump.

Back in my television days I had the good fortune to work with Jerry Seinfeld several times. On one of these occasions, when we were sitting together in the green room, he told me a story about a moment that changed his career.

One day, while he was a struggling young comedian in New York, Jerry decided he didn’t feel like spending the day writing jokes, It was a nice day, so he chose to take a walk instead. While on his walk, he happened to see a construction crew that was just finishing its lunch break. As the workers returned to the job, Jerry thought to himself:

“Those guys don’t want to go back to work. I’m sure they’d rather be taking a walk themselves. But instead, they’re going back to work, because that’s their job…that’s what they do.”

And with that, Jerry Seinfeld went back to his apartment and spent the day writing jokes…because that was his job. Instead of taking the day off, he did what he needed to do—and he told me that that, more than anything else, is what made the difference in his career.

In an earlier posting, I told you how the Beatles, sick with colds and sore throats, recorded their first album in one marathon 12-hour recording session—and then did two shows in two different cities the very next day! Do you think they wanted to do those two shows? I’m guessing not. I’m guessing they’d rather have stayed home and rested. But they did the shows. Jerry Seinfeld wrote the jokes. I went to the gym.

Most of us know exactly what we need to do…and just don’t do it. What is it that you need to do? Okay then, do it. It’s time to jump off the high dive and make a big splash in the pool.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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