Is your work preventing you from feeling joy?

There is a unique word that popped up in my news feed twice this week: The word was Joy. It appeared as a key reason that 2 high profile Americans quit their jobs. What was even more unique is that both of these Americans played a game for a living. And if anyone should be experiencing on-the-job-joy it should be people playing a game for money.

Work Takes A Toll

But Andrew Luck, the recently retired 29-year-old quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League, and 30-year-old tight end Rob ‘Gronk’ Gronkowski, who recently retired from the New England Patriots, the best football team in the history of history, both stated this week that their jobs had actually taken their joy from them.

Whoa…

If you had heard that Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble quit their jobs because it was stealing their joy you would understand. After all, those dudes worked in a rock mine, operating dinosaurs. So if they told you they didn’t want to yabba-dabba-do it any more you would get it.

Money Isn’t Everything

But we are talking about 2 guys whose jobs have brought them fortune and fame. Luck earned over $100 million dollars. Gronkowski made $53 million by the time he turned 30, while winning 3 Super Bowls.

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Andrew Luck announced his retirement at 29, saying that football has taken his joy. Then he Eskimo kissed the mic.

Yet the work robbed them of their joy. The pain, the grind, the mental and physical fatigue, the injuries, surgeries and stress that came with it all negated the benefits of the handsome compensation.

The Reminder

This is a reminder to that money and fame are no fair trade for our joy. Because without joy, a delicious cocktail of pleasure and happiness, it’s hard to find value in our work and our careers.

The Question

This raises an important question for us all.

Is your work adding joy to your life or taking it from you? 

For some people that answer is easy. A quick check of the ole joy-meter may show that your joy is at maximum levels. Others will find their work is more or less joy-neutral. Which is fine. But just fine. However, if your work is exporting your joy like Art Vandelay, you need a new job. Or a new career.

Search Yourself

A little self evaluation will tell you whether you need a new environment, new boss, new challenge, or new career. This may be the right time to focus on an old life goal that has gathered dust, moss or rust. Because by making a career change or launching a new business you may experience a flood of joy and excitement that will make you wonder why you didn’t do it earlier. That’s exactly what happened to me when I started my entrepreneurial adventure. And 3 years after starting my own company I am shocked that more people don’t do it.

Key Takeaway

If your work is depleting your personal joy you have to make a change. Life is too short not to enjoy your work and the people you work with. Money is not the most important contributor to a joyful life. So make sure you are not trading money for happiness. Make joy your number one goal. And everything else will fall into place.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

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5 Things I do to keep my work energy high.

Being an entrepreneur is as close as I will get to knowing what it was like to be Bruce Lee. Because entrepreneurs face a nonstop onslaught of challenges that come from all angles. It requires you to remain sharp and on your toes. And that is just to play defense.

Getting Offensive

But like Deion Sanders, entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury of simply playing defense. Since I first launched The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, I have been constantly on offense. It is how you create something out of nothing, and then grow it into something worth talking about. It requires vision, focus, persistence. And a whole lot of energy.

Pure Energy

I am a naturally high-energy human. But my job, like yours, will take as much energy as I have to give. I have lofty goals that will take a tremendous amount of work to achieve. That’s why I have been focused lately on keeping my energy reserves high by taking care of myself physically. Here’s what I am doing.

The 5 Things I Do To Keep My Energy Up

1. Sleep 

Sleep is the key to great energy. If you do just one thing on this list, I recommend  saturating yourself with sleep. It is how the human body recharges. Most Americans sleep far too little. Then again most American’s aren’t thinking about operating at their optimal level. #StateFairObservation

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I probably don’t look like this when I sleep. But I like to think I sleep pretty, on a log, in the woods.

I am an Early Owl, which is a cross between an Early Bird and a Night Owl. So I naturally feel great early in the morning, and energized late at night. I enjoy staying up late feeding my curiosity. Which is why I now have a curiosity curfew.

However, I recognize that I feel much better with good sleep. So I have been trying to get to bed by 10:30 or 11pm so I am well rested when my non-negotiable alarm goes off at 6am. I have found 7.5 hours to be my prime sleep number. Although when I plugged it into a Sleep Number Bed I found 7.5 to be waaaaay too soft.

2. Eating

We all know that we get better energy by eating better food. But right now I am focusing not just on what I am eating, but when I am eating. Eating at the right times helps me keep my energy levels where I need them to perform at my best throughout each day. Bill Cosby taught me this lesson in a Public Service Announcement on TV when I was a kid. And we all know Bill Cosby had enough energy to pave his own 4 lane highway to hell.

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This is an overly romanticized view of breakfast. My actual breakfast has far more Frank’s Red Hot. I put that shiznit on everything!

I typically eat breakfast (and I always eat breakfast) at just about 8am. But I have often pushed my lunch back to 1 or 2pm, because I have been on a roll at work. But I am making a concentrated effort to create a hard stop for lunch at noon. Because it helps maintain a more consistent energy level throughout my afternoon. And it prevents me from becoming a hangry, hangry hippo. I have also tried to eat dinner between 6pm and 7pm. My family’s hectic evening schedule often tempts me to push off dinner until 8pm or 9pm. But when I wait that long I feel like a skateboarder who took too long between kicks and lost all momentum. Don’t be that skateboarder.

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Eating is like kicking while skateboarding. Do it regularly or you’ll lose your momentum.

3. Drinking  

I am working on more and better hydration. Water is my go-to drink. I have heard that you should start your day with a drink of water to wake up your machinery. So lately I have been starting my day with a tall glass of water, first thing, before I start writing in the morning. I can tell it helps get me flowing faster.

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This is a fancy pic of fancy water. I drink the generic stuff that comes out of the tap and it works the same way.

4. Exercise 

My energy is higher when I exercise regularly. Even when I am exhausted at the end of a day, making time to exercise helps me elevate my energy. As a result I enter each new day with a deeper energy reserve when I exercise regularly. #RichardSimmonsStyle

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This is kinda what I look like when I exercise, because I also work out under fluorescent lights.

5. Downtime  

You need downtime and rest to restore your energy, passion and love for what you do at work. I take weekends completely off from work whenever I can. I take vacations with my family. I try to spend a considerable amount of time when I am not working not thinking about work. I do this by becoming totally engrossed in other activities that range from reading to boogie boarding. The downtime helps me increase my enthusiasm for my day job when I come back to it.

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Boogie boarding is one of my favorite downtime activities to do with my family, including my daughter Ava.

Key Takeaway

You are your most important business machine. If you want to accomplish great things you have to keep yourself running in top condition. While money may make the world go round, it is your energy level that helps you get that bread. So take care of yourself. And make sure you have the energy to take on the kind of work your ambitions demand.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this story, please share it with them.

Why feeling comfortable should make you feel uncomfortable.

I am always looking for nuggets of wisdom. And because I am always looking, unlike Bono, I often find what I am looking for. The latest gem arrived yesterday from Robert Kiyosaki, the famed investor and author of Rich Dad. Poor Dad. Kiyosaki is an active tweeter, dropping 140-character bread crumbs of wisdom throughout each day.

Here is the tweet that has me all atwitter right now:

The biggest trap, the biggest dungeon in life isn’t laziness or bad luck, it’s comfort.  -Robert Kiyosaki 

The Human Trap

I know exactly what Kiyosaki is talking about. And he nailed the big ole human trap. If I was trying to catch me a feast of humans, I would not set out an oversized mousetrap baited with oversized cheese, or a giant ant trap baited with a giant picnic basket.

Instead, I would set up a steady 9-to-5 job in middle management, with competitive benefits, no night or weekend work, no travel, a swell group of co-workers, an easy commute and decent pay. And my trap would suck in humans like a new and improved black hole designed by James Dyson.

Dissecting The Trap

Comfort is a trap. It slowly and silently pacifies you. It lulls you into a false sense of security. Comfort takes your ambition, hands you back mediocrity, and makes you feel like you got fair value in the exchange. Comfort smothers dreams, dismantles goals and leads to the motherlode of regret that so many people unearth in their last chapters.

Staying Uncomfortable

Most people are looking  to make a comfortable living. But that is my greatest career fear. Because it would mean that my career would be good, but never great. It wouldn’t be memorable or laudable or history making. It wouldn’t create a legacy or generational wealth. But most importantly it wouldn’t allow me to accomplish my personal mission and live into my personal legend. #TheAlchemist

A Quick Recap

I spent the first 19 years of my career working as an employee. I earned fancy titles that included words like Executive, Chief and President. Those roles generated internal clout and an enviable salary that most would be thrilled to have. And most people would never give it up.

The Grand Illusion

My past jobs offered a great deal of perceived comfort. But that type of comfort is an illusion. It tricks more people than David Copperfield (Vegas not Dickens). Jobs are not steady or guaranteed. They only appear steady because people want to believe they are.

Entrepreneurship felt like the path to the endgame comfort I was looking for. Because the comfort I want comes from having control over my time, which is our only un-renewable resource. So in 2016 I launched my own advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry.

Even More Dangerous

However, entrepreneurship does not make you deaf to the siren song of comfort. Worse, a sense of comfort is far more dangerous to entrepreneurs than it is to employees. Entrepreneurship requires you to always feel unsatisfied, incomplete and scrambling to generate the next phase of growth that keeps your machine humming.

I stay uncomfortable by committing to goals that are very hard to achieve. Those unattained goals provide a constant feeling of discomfort. Of failure. And of motivation that drives me forward. I try to keep that discomfort front and center. Because it prevents me from falling into the big trap that Robert Kiyosaki warned the Twitterverse about yesterday.

Key Takeaway

Comfort is the enemy of high achievement. It makes you feel as if good enough is good enough. Comfort forces you to pawn your hopes and dreams. It makes you lay down your ambition and stop fighting. But don’t. Don’t give into comfort. Keep your eyes fixed on your original dream. And make it come true. Because that is the only way to guarantee you will feel comfortable with the way your story ends.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

Why you should dedicate more time to self education.

When we were kids in school we took standardized tests to see how we stacked up against other kids our age. I remember taking some sort of Iowa basics test and some type of California standard test. Despite the fact that I never lived in either of those states. Then there were the PSATs, SATs, ACTs. I remember filling in all those little circles. And I remember thinking that number 2 pencils sounded like poop pencils.

Flash Forward

I have not had my knowledge tested against others in my age group since high school. But I would love to be tested now. Because I do more than most of my contemporaries to gain knowledge and increase my intelligence every day.

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Some of the books I am reading now.

Example

Yesterday was a fairly typical day of self education.

  • I read chapters in multiple physical books. #letsgetphyscial
  • I listened to 1 hour of an audiobook while driving. (Indianapolis)
  • I listened to 2 podcasts totaling almost 2 hours while mowing the lawn and doing cardio work. (How I Built This and Bigger Pockets)
  • I read several articles in a magazine while waiting for a football scrimmage to start. (Fast Company)
  • I read a blog post on leadership.

I am constantly seeking new knowledge, insights and philosophies. As a result I add significant knowledge to my collection daily.

Test Me Bro

That’s why I would love to be tested again. I want to see how my knowledge stacks up against other men and women in their mid-forties. Because I think I would do very well compared to my peers. Many of whom stopped studying when their formal education ended.

Slowdown and Ramp Up

I admit that my deliberate education experienced a slowdown during my rip-roaring 20s, after I graduated from the University of Wisconsin. But I ramped up my self education in my early 30s. Today, I consider self education one of my core interests and hobbies.

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I’m always trying to become a smarter business owner.

Learn Something New Every Day

Without continuing adult education it’s a bad situation. #HallAndOates  But if you are reading this post you are probably into self education too. If so, you are in the minority. We’ve all heard the saying, “You learn something new everyday.’ But the average adult learns by accident, or because of their lack of baseline knowledge. Not through deliberate self education.

Putting Education To Work

I study, absorb, read and learn like I did back in college. None if it is required. All of it is self directed. Because I want to know all I can. It gives me an advantage in life. I put my knowledge to good use for my business and my family. In fact, I am certain that I won’t experience sustained success as an entrepreneur if I don’t continuously educate myself.

Key Takeaway

You grow through education. It is how you become a smarter, stronger, more capable resource. It is how you make more money and make more of a difference in your community. Unless you are willing to accept continual mental decay you can’t coast the rest of the way to the grave. So once your educational requirements are met, make sure to stay ahead of the curve through your own elective learning.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this post, please share it with them.

See also:

A quick review of the 15 books I am reading right now.

9 killer books that will motivate you to be an entrepreneur.

What this entrepreneur is suddenly afraid of.

 

17 inspirational quotes on the power of your imagination.

In a normal year my family and I would be heading to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina this week. Unfortunately, our family’s August vacation tradition looks like it has come to an end. Because our kids’ sports obligations have locked us at home for the month of August for the next 9 years. Boo.

Exploring Our Backyard

But when life gives you lemons you have to squeeze them for all they’re worth. That’s why we have been using our weekends to explore interesting attractions closer to home. In the past couple of weeks we have been to the Milwaukee Air and Water Show, The Milwaukee Zoo, The Wisconsin State Fair, The Chazen Art Museum and more state parks than you can shake a state park pass at.

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Devil’s Lake
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Doing what they are posed to do.
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Somewhere between the cream puffs and the fried olives at the Wisconsin State Fair.

The House On The Rock

This weekend we hit one of the most mysterious of midwestern attractions. The House On The Rock. I had heard about this place since I was a small child but really didn’t know what it was, other than the obvious information I gleaned from the name itself. Because I am smart like that.

Imagination At Work

The House On The Rock turned out to be extremely interesting, fun and weird. As the name implies, there is a house built on a rock. But there is a whole lot of interesting stuff housed adjacent to the rock that is hard to wrap your head around, or put into words. So I won’t attempt it here. Suffice it to say The House On The Rock is the product of an active imagination.

Meeting My Quota of Quotes

One of my favorite spaces at THOTR was a room full of inspirational quotes focused mostly on the power of imagination. As an advertising creative I have spent my entire career mining my own imagination. As an entrepreneur I have seen how an entire business can spring from the blueprints of our imagination. So I am sharing some of the quotes I found here. I hope there is something that resonates with you.

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I love the way a good quote can sum up important, yet complex thoughts in a simple, memorable way.
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This is me in a nutshell. Only without the nutshell.
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Less about imagination. More about acting. Or is it smallness? Or getting wasted?
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Call the patent office, because I just invented the future!
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I see what you did there Grant!
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How the ninja turtle saved an angel from a rock.
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This is why so many Moms choose to be Jif.
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More windshield. Less rear view mirror.
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This quote came from someone in a long line of anonymous people.
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He said but.
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This is why Fletch put the bill on the Underhill’s account. #FletchLines
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I think this means Shakespeare wishes that you buy your dish soap at Costco.
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Imagine all the people.
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Satchel thought like Hugh Hefner.
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Apparently I made up my mind to crop this photo too tight.
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Isn’t it ironic how much of Unknown’s work is totally known?
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This was said right before Lewis & Clark stuffed Marcel in a locker.

Key Takeaway

Your imagination is your most valuable asset. It can help you create wealth, happiness and comfort. It can get you into the places you want to be in. And out of the places you want out of. Use it. Protect it. Value it. Build your life on it. Like a house on a rock.

*If you know someone who could use some inspirational quotes (#everyone) please share it with them.

How to make the most of a 7-hour commute.

Last Friday evening the commute from my office to my home was 7 hours-long. Not 7 minutes. 7 hours. While that may not be surprising in cities like Atlanta and Los Angeles, it is outside the normal range most other places.

I left the office at 5pm and didn’t pull into my driveway until just after 11pm. You math wizards are probable thinking, ‘Bro, that is 6 hours!’ (Actually, I hope all of you are thinking that.) But it was 7 hours. Because I crossed a time zone in the middle of the drive.

The Reason

This reason the commute took 7 hours was not because of construction, an accident, weather or car problems. It was because I drove home from my office in Columbus, Ohio to my home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The Home Office Strategy

When I launched my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, I adopted a home office strategy. Which meant that I wanted to have an office every place I’ve had a home. The strategy allows me to regularly travel to the places I feel most at home. It means I can continue to spend time with the close friends I’ve accumulated across the country. It also means that I can hire former teammates again. And become a great local resources for my former clients. (That is if I am not adding them to my team too…) #foreshadowing

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Spending time with my friend Troy Allen, Founder of Rise Brands, is a great benefit of having a Columbus office. And look at that nuclear-strength light bulb over my head! #bigideas

The Weaponry C-Bus

The Weaponry has had an office in Columbus since March of 2019. We have a full-time creative team in that office. We are planning on adding more team members in Columbus by the end of the year as we continue to expand our presence in the Buckeye State.

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Ohio Weapons in The Weaponry Ohio

Making Magic

Last week in Columbus I met with people I am recruiting. I met with potential collaborators and potential clients. I introduced a couple of exciting brand-building side projects to my team, in which The Weaponry itself could be developing its own brands. We also edited 7 new videos and commercials for one of our best clients.

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Last Friday the Weapons ate at Johnnies Tavern, home of the Super Burgers. But I had my first fried baloney sandwich. Which tastes a lot like a hot dog sandwich.

Unusual Things

As I wrapped up my work day on Friday and prepared to head home to Milwaukee I did 2 things I don’t usually do. First, at 4:30pm ET I called the local Donatos Pizza in Grandview, and ordered 2 large pepperoni pizzas. If you haven’t had a Donatos thin crust pepperoni pizza, with at least 100 slices of pepperoni on each large pizza, you are missing out. It is in an elite class with In-N-Out Burgers and Chick Fil-A nuggets as an elevated version of a classic American staple.

However, the pizzas were not for me. They were for my wife and kids in Milwaukee who needed a Donatos fix. (They also asked for bread from the Beehive Bakery in Powell, and the store-made tortilla chips from the Whole Foods in Dublin, which we have not found at a Whole Foods anywhere else in the country.)

Calling All Callers

The second unusual thing I did was share a message on Instagram requesting people to call me. The message looked somewhat exactly like this:

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@adamalbrecht

Commute-I-Cating

When I drive alone I love to catch up with people on the phone. This trip turned into a catch-up fest. On my drive I caught up with friends and family in:

  • New York City
  • Vermont
  • New Hampshire
  • Chicago
  • Atlanta
  • Houston
  • Minneapolis
  • Indiana
  • Pittsburgh
  • Milwaukee
  • Stevens Point
  • Madison
  • Appleton
  • St. Paul
  • North Carolina
  • Columbus
  • Milwaukee

Strengthen Your Bonds Like Barry

Keeping in contact with your people is really important. It’s how you invest in your relationships and continue to grow them. Unfortunately, most people spend very little time calling, texting or meeting up with people they haven’t seen in a long time. Those are exactly the people I love to reach out to most. Because the more recent your social interactions, the stronger your social bonds. (Bonds. Social Bonds.)

top view photography of roads
Those connected road ways are great places to connect with your connections.

The Last Leg of The Journey

As I neared the end of my commute I drove through Milwaukee. It was 11pm CT on a  beautiful summer night as I rolled through Brew City. If you’ve never been to Milwaukee, it is as a nice of a place to be during the summer as anywhere in America. I had my window down, my sunroof open (despite the lack of sun) and my music up as I hit my last 15 miles.

It was then that I was greeted by 2 fun surprises in downtown Milwaukee. I saw 2 billboards The Weaponry created for the UW Credit Union. They stood tall and clear and bright against the Milwaukee night. They were created to promote the expansion of the UW Credit Union footprint in Milwaukee.

Billboard Thing #1

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Billboard Thing #2

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Having these new billboards greet me after 6.5 hours of driving was a treat. Seeing your work in place, grabbing attention and offering a smile is always fun. But at that hour of night, at that point in my drive, they felt like a couple of juicy red cherries on top of a juicy red day.

Key Takeaway

We only get one shot at life. So be greedy. Design a life that lets you combine all of your favorite things. Find work you enjoy. Spend time with the people you enjoy. Live in and frequently visit the places you enjoy most. Keep your relationships active. And live like you are on one epic roadtrip. Because you are.

How badly do you really want what you want?

Seth Rogen is a funny guy. He is so funny that he recently appeared on an episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. You know you are funny when Seinfeld wants to drink and drive with you. And, of course, ask you about comedy.

89th Annual Academy Awards -  Press Room

Back In The Day, Eh.

On CICGC Rogen told the story of how he started performing standup comedy when he was 15-years old in Vancouver. I’m not sure how old that is in American years, but I think that is still pretty young. He performed stand-up regularly, like several-times-a-week regularly, until he was 18-years old.

One particular joke from one particular comedian from that time period still stands out to Rogen today. He shared the joke with Jerry Seinfeld, and with me as I eavesdropped on their conversation from home. Here it is:

I wanted to be a boxer, until I met someone who reeaally wanted to be a boxer.’ -Mr. Former-Boxer-Turned-Candian-Stand-Up-Comedian

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Ali reeaally wanted to be a boxer. A soldier, not so much.

The Set Up

Rogen shared that line, not just because it was funny and interesting, but to provide insight into his next chapter. After high school he moved to Los Angeles where he planned to further pursue his stand-up comedy career. But upon being introduced to the highly competitive L.A. stand-up scene he concluded:

‘I wanted to be a stand-up comedian until I met people who reeeeeallly wanted to be stand-up comedians.’ -Seth Rogen

Ain’t That The Truth!

I love this story. There are things we think we want, until we see how competitive it really is. Or how hard it really is. Or how good other people already are at it. Or how hard people will punch you in the face if you stand in front of them.

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This dude reaaaally wants it. I am not sure what it is. But he wants it.

To determine if you reeaally want to take on your next challenge ask yourself these 5 questions:

  1. Do you reeaally want to do this thing?
  2. How committed are you, reeaally?
  3. Are you prepared to compete with others who reeaally want what you say you want?
  4. Are you prepared to sacrifice what reeaally needs to be sacrificed?
  5. Are you willing to trade the pain required to achieve your goal for the pain of having not achieved it?

I Reeaally Want To Be An Entrepreneur.

When I first started planning to launch The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, I had to ask myself these 5 questions. And the answer to all of them was a loud and resounding YES! (Is there really such a thing as a quiet and resounding yes? Maybe if Clint Eastwood says it.)

I was committed to succeed. I was committed to the pain. I was committed to the sacrifice. I was committed to fight and compete. In fact, my commitment was well illustrated in a story I shared in A real entrepreneur’s reaction to my desire to start my own business. And I am just as committed today as I was on day one.

KNocked Up

It’s Okay To Not Really Want It.

To be clear, it’s okay if the answer to any of the questions above is no. That means the thing you think you want is not the thing you reeaally want. That’s good. It frees you up to discover the thing you reeaally want. Just like Seth Rogen. Who went on to write the hit movie Superbad, act in Knocked Up and 40-Year Old Virgin, and direct This Is The End. 

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Seth Rogen telling Steve Carell he has to reeaally want to have sex in 40-Year Old Virgin

Key Takeaway

You will always be most successful at the things you want the most. Be honest with yourself. Don’t waste time with things you wish you could do, or that you are sorta into. Find a career, an adventure or a cause that you can go all-in on. That you can double down on. Or go any-other-gambling-term on. Going all-in is the most rewarding way to go. It’s most likely to lead you to your greatest potential for success. So find your thing and fully commit. It’s the best way to reeaallly enjoy what you do every day.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them. And if this post reeaally resonated with you, please consider subscribing to this blog.