By Ismail Abdur-Rahman, CEO iVIBES
My favorite uncle had a heart attack and died Friday night.
I cried for 3 days. I got angry when I saw people laughing and joking and enjoying a burger. It was the same when my mother died. And when my father died. And when both of my grandmothers died. And my aunt. And my cousin.
The world didn't stop.
Do you know what I realized? There are roughly 7 billion people who really don't give a damn. The world is cruel that way. The people who knew my uncle loved him and admired him. He made an impact in the communities in which he lived. He touched lives with his wisdom and kindness. And he taught me that the real meaning of life is in motivating and inspiring others to be the best versions of themselves.
But....there are still about 7 billion people who don't know and don't care.
What's Your Legacy?
Most of us drift through life pretty aimlessly until we find inspiration or are forced into survival mode. The upshot of this is that we tend to give a rather uninspired effort when we do what we do, until we are forced to do better. You know what I mean: you play snooze tag for a half hour before you drag yourself out of bed; you need that cup-o'-Joe just to function well enough to make the morning commute to work, and you have a few more cups to get you through the day; you complain about your job or your boss or your salary to anyone who will listen.
Let's put the odds of that at one in 7 million.....
Do you remember Kimo von Oelhoffen? Think hard....now? No. Even the most die-hard NFL fans might not remember Kimo. He played with 4 teams over the course of a 13-year NFL career. He was even a starter on the Pittsburgh Steelers' 2005 Super Bowl winning team. Kimo was a hard worker, but he was an average player. Not a superstar. Not a household name. Just a guy. Average. You don't remember him because he didn't leave his mark.
On the other hand, JJ Watt, even if he never plays another down of football, has made an indelible mark on not only the NFL, but also the city of Houston because of his work in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey - raising $37 million in funds to help rebuild the city. Watt and von Oelhoffen are roughly the same size and possess similar athletic traits. But the thing that separates them and has made Watt a sure-fire NFL Hall of Fame player and a hero in Houston is his passion. He didn't receive a scholarship to play football at the University of Wisconsin, so he paid his own way as a walk on and played with such passion that he worked himself into a first-round draft pick. He followed that up by playing with an even bigger chip on his shoulder in the NFL, and that passion made him a 3-time Defensive Player of the Year and earned him a 6-year contract extension worth $100 million after only his third NFL season. He made it his business to make sure that he would never again be an afterthought like he was when he was a lightly-regarded prospect coming out of high school. Mission accomplished.
I don't know anyone who has accomplished anything significant by just going through the motions. Think of all the game changers you have heard of - Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, Tom Brady. What do they all have in common?
Yes. All of the above endured failures before reaching icon status. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, the company he co-founded. Tom Brady struggled to beat out Brian Griese and Drew Henson for the starting quarterback job at the University of Michigan, and he followed that up by struggling to run the 40 yard dash at the NFL combine - posting a glacial 5.22.
The reason you know these people is that they channeled their passion to overcome adversity and become true game changers in their respective fields. There are countless people who have faced the same challenges, framed by similar circumstances, but you've never heard of them because they simply faded away into the abyss of mediocrity.
Michael Jordan was driven by his passion to overcome being cut from the basketball team to become the best basketball player in the world. Steve Jobs used his passion for innovation to rebound after being fired from Apple to found two companies that were tremendous successes and ultimately reclaim his spot at Apple and transform it into the tech giant that we know today. Tom Brady's passion to succeed is legendary, the driving force behind his 5 Super Bowl victories.
What are you willing to sacrifice to make your dreams come true? What can you do today to achieve your goals? Try breaking your major goals down into smaller parts in order to understand the processes that will facilitate your success. Organize your day into 10 minute increments and look at how much time you actually waste in a day, and then figure out how to stop wasting your time and start working harder on your grind.
Unless....unless you're OK with being average.
But in that case, you'll never leave your mark on the world. And there will also be 7 billion people whose lives you will not have impacted.