What are you willing to die for? That is the question posed to the 13 or so eager students in my Ph.D. program the first week we showed up for class in January, 2002. We were shown a video of some mountain climbers who were so passionate about climbing, they were willing to die to live their dreams. And many climbers have died in pursuit of making it to the peak. To me, the answer to “What am I willing to die for?” was easy: nothing but my two boys, Shep and Warren.
Many professions demand you put your life on the line every day: being in the armed forces, being a police officer or a fire fighter, being a race car driver, or participating in extreme sports. It has remained in the back of my mind since January, 2002, that maybe I would never be a great leader because I am not willing to die for a cause. There isn’t a great deal of peril in running workshops, coaching, and consulting. Sounds silly, doesn’t?
Almost a decade later, I realized the question isn’t “What are you willing to die for?” The question is “What are you so passionate about that you will do crazy things in pursuit of the dream?” What do I mean by crazy things? My favorite is NBA basketball player Jason Terry of the Dallas Mavericks. At the beginning of the 2010-2011 NBA season, Terry got a tattoo of the Larry O’Brien Trophy on his arm – that is the trophy awarded to the NBA Champions. Yes, he was ridiculed for it. But when the Mavs won, Terry said “When you do something as crazy as I did, you gotta back it up.” And back it up he did. I love it!
There are risks involved in greatness. You have to stand for what no one else believes in. You have to take the path less traveled. You have to put a tattoo of the championship trophy on your arm. When you take such actions, you commit to the path in front of you. You don’t leave a backdoor in case it doesn’t work out. The point is you have to be all in on your dreams and most of us aren’t.
Busy being all in on my dreams and closing the backdoors,