Not too long ago, I spoke with an astronaut about what it takes to launch into space. Since I don’t work at NASA and am not a rocket scientist, we were way outside of my comfort zone. He was patient and talked me through the various parts of a successful launch.
It occurred to me, as he was sharing his extensive knowledge, how so many of the elements in a rocket launch are appropriate for launching things right here on planet Earth.
“We are more fulfilled when we are involved in something bigger than ourselves.” -John Glenn
The factor that really interested me was the energy required to launch. We talked about the amount of fuel it takes to propel a rocket into space. I learned that the Space Shuttle had over two million pounds of solid propellant in its boosters.
Two million pounds!
All of this is to fire up the engines, create liftoff, and escape the velocity of the Earth’s atmosphere. The rocket must overcome gravity drag.
What may have been a simple, elementary explanation for a non-scientist crystallized some ideas for me.
If we want to launch something big, it often requires more fuel than we imagine.
“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” -Moliere
If you want to be mediocre, this is not the book for you. But, if you’re daring, put the power of disruptive innovation to work on your own career.
Whitney recently shared with me some of the highlights from her book and research:
7 Variables to Mastery
7 Variables to Mastery
1: Take the right risks
2: Play to your distinctive strengths
3: Embrace constraints
4: Battle entitlement
5: Step back to grow
6: Give failure its due
7: Be discovery driven
You’ve identified 7 variables to move from gaining competence, confidence, and finally, mastery. Is there one that most people struggle with?
One of the hardest is entitlement, the belief that ‘I exist therefore I am entitled’. Sadly, I see it in myself all the time. It comes in many guises, like cultural entitlement. We all need to feel that we belong. A sense of belonging gives us the confidence we need to try something new. But as we begin to see the fruits of taking the right kinds of risks and playing to our strengths, it’s easy to start believing ‘this is the way things should and will always be’. The nanosecond we start believing this, we stop learning. So that right when you are feeling the most competent, and have the confidence to try something new, you begin to stagnate, potentially even backsliding. If you want to enjoy the hypergrowth of disruption, of moving forward not back, battle entitlement.
It’s easy to identify your distinctive strengths, after the fact, because they are what make you a fish out of water. It’s figuring out your strengths in the first place. So here’s a clue: What compliment do you habitually dismiss? You’ve heard it so many times that you are bored. Or you wonder why they are complimenting you because it is as natural as breathing. Malcolm Forbes said, “People tend to undervalue what they are, and overvalue what they aren’t.” Take note of that compliment. It’s likely a strength. Then find ways to apply or use that strength where others are not.
“A distinctive strength is something that you do well that others within your sphere don’t.” -Whitney Johnson
Like Jayne Juvan, a partner at a law firm in Cleveland. As a third year associate, she started blogging. There was some political flak. Law firms tend to be conservative. The partners didn’t see the opportunity. But she didn’t back off. Good thing. When the economy came crashing down in 2007, she sidestepped layoffs because she’d landed clients on social media. She also had a compelling case to make when she was up for partner. Learning the law was her pay-to-play skill, social media her distinctive strength.
“Beware the undertow of the status quo.” -Whitney Johnson
Recently, I was visiting Nashville and met Jimmy at an event to raise money for the Salvation Army.
Saved By Love
Do you know how this country music star got his first guitar? If you have participated in the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program, you will have the answer. That anonymous gift was the beginning of a musical journey. Each year children in need fill out angel tags containing gift wishes and place them on a tree. Jimmy received his first guitar through this program. You can make a dream come true by helping others through the Salvation Army’s program.
After reading his compelling story and speaking with him, I thought about 7 lessons Jimmy Wayne taught me about giving and sharing.
Jimmy taught me to:
1. Give the gift of encouragement.
As a homeless teenager, Jimmy befriended an elderly couple, who took him in. When he speaks of this couple, and the words of love and appreciation they expressed to him, you will be reminded of the power of encouragement. Contrast that to the words spoken by a prison guard; words that, to this day, still seem to haunt him.
Use every opportunity to encourage others with words of love and appreciation.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Arnold Sports Festival here in Columbus, OH. Previously named the Arnold Classic, the event is home to one of bodybuilding’s biggest competitions.
I had the privilege of talking with the very first Arnold Classic winner, Rich Gaspari. Rich has won numerous bodybuilding awards including the Classic, Mr. America, Mr. Universe, and three time runner up Mr. Olympia. He is also the CEO of a multi-million dollar supplement company, Gaspari Nutriton.
“Make sure your words are planting seeds of success and greatness in your life.” Rich Gaspari
Rich recently wrote a book, 51 Days: No Excuses. As you may expect, it is complete with a diet and exercise program designed to transform your body. But it is much more than a book about the physical body. It is full of stories about overcoming obstacles and staying motivated.
Rich’s personal story is compelling as he overcame numerous obstacles to win competitions and then overcame different obstacles to form a success business.
‘He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.’ –Ben Franklin
“I still believe one of the most important choices is how we treat others. What good does it do you to build a huge muscular, impressive body if you are small and underdeveloped on the inside? I’ve always felt that success begins on the inside and reaching our true potential gets blocked when we are small-spirited.” –Rich Gaspari
‘Don’t make excuses and don’t talk about it. Do it.’ -Melvyn Douglas
My friend Robert Goolrick is one of the most remarkable people I’ve met. He’s a first class novelist, writing two New York Times bestselling books: A Reliable Wife and Heading Out to Wonderful. These are stories that will linger with you long after you finish them. He writes the kind of novels you have to tell someone else about. He also wrote the bestselling, non-fiction book The End of the World as We Know It about his unbelievably difficult life.
A Perfect Life?
Look at his life now, and you’d think it was made-for-movie perfect. His books sell millions of copies. He lives a gentleman’s life in Virginia. He travels to exotic destinations. On his wrist, you are bound to see a timepiece to remember.
You may see the external life of dreams, but dig a little more and learn his story.
As an adult….
He was fired from his job as an advertising executive.
His manuscripts were rejected by publisher after publisher.
He was addicted to drugs and drinking.
He cut himself.
He literally lost a decade of his life in a world you wouldn’t recognize.
He was institutionalized.
As a child….
He was verbally abused.
He lived in squalor (complete with rats!).
He was raped. By his father.
He was neglected.
Most of us don’t understand that kind of life, that kind of pain. But all of us have obstacles thrown in our path.