Because I generally have a positive outlook, I frequently have people ask me, “Greg, you’re not one of those positive thinkers looking at the world through rose colored glasses are you?” Well, yes and no.
I am a positive thinker, but I’m not someone who ignores problems and pretends everything is perfect. That’s not being positive and optimistic. That’s being stupid.
The optimist throws the curtains open and says, “Good morning, God!” The pessimist rolls over and says, “Good god, it’s morning.”
If you are having trouble paying your bills and instead of doing anything to fix the problem you simply think positive and hope your bills get paid, they will eventually come take your car and foreclose on your house.
But that doesn’t mean the only thing you can do is focus on your poor financial situation. There is always more than one reality.
Reality 2: You have a good job. You have opportunities for advancement. Maybe you can ask for some overtime work, or take on some extra responsibilities and earn a promotion. You have skills to earn extra income. You could start a side business via the Internet. You could cut back on some of your expenses that aren’t necessities, etc.
The reality you focus on will greatly affect your mood, actions and outcome.
Remember, you aren’t lying to yourself or ignoring reality. You are choosing to focus on the reality that will help you the most. And that is key:
You get to choose your reality
You get to choose your attitude
You get to choose how you react
You get to choose to be happy
“Do not allow negative thoughts to enter your mind for they are weeds that strangle confidence.” –Bruce Lee
Research shows that to get the best results you need to focus on the positives three times as much as the negatives.
Pay attention to your thoughts. When you have a negative thought, yell STOP! (If other people are around, you may want to use your inside voice. We don’t want the men in white suits coming to get you with a net.) Replace that negative thought with a realistic positive thought.
Focus on those positive thoughts and take action on them to improve your situation.
Every night write down three new things you are thankful for. They can be something big or little that happened that day, or anything in your life your are grateful for. The trick is to come up with 3 new things each day. (Research shows this simple exercise significantly improves our happiness.)
It’s something all of us can start doing today. When I do it, I move forward and feel better.
How do you feel when you get a real thank you? I’m not talking about a “thanks” for holding the door, passing the ketchup, or a perfunctory thanks for taking my phone call. Those are all fine, but how do you feel when you get a sincere, meaningful thank you? How do you feel when someone looks you in the eye, gives you a firm handshake – or even a hug – and says, “I really want to thank you for ________. It means a lot to me and I’ll never forget it.”? How do you feel when someone hand writes you a heartfelt message and a “Thank You” on personal stationery?
“A sincere ‘thank you’ can change the day – even the life – of the receiver and the giver. Who do you need to thank today?”
A sincere, “thank you” creates an emotional bond between both parties. It encourages the person you’re thanking. It lets them know they count in this world, they’re making a difference, and they touched your life. It also makes you feel better, elevates your relationships, and often leads to more business (bonus!).
So why don’t we do it more? We tell ourselves:
The other person knows we appreciate them and doesn’t care if we say “thank you” anyway
In 5th grade I decided to join the elementary school band and play the trumpet. (Why the trumpet? They let us try all the instruments, but I couldn’t keep my cheeks from puffing out when I tried the trombone. Yup, that’s the kind of thought I put into my instrument of choice.)
In the first week of practice we had auditions. Out of 36 trumpets, I was 33rd chair. (Take that chair 34, 35, and 36!) Let’s just say I was not awesome at this.
All of that changed when our band director handed out the music. We were going to play the theme from Rocky! (Gonna Fly Now) This was in 1978. The movie had only come out two years earlier and I loved that song. And, the trumpets had an amazing part.
I took the sheet music home and started playing it. But I didn’t have the melody. I was playing boring low notes the whole time. I didn’t understand why. (I’ll explain in a minute.) I really didn’t sound very good. It was painful to listen to me.
My mom saw me struggling and got me private lessons. I had a really cool teacher who said my embouchure – the way my mouth was on the trumpet – was all wrong. He showed me what to do and sent me home.
I worked my butt off and the next week my teacher was stunned. He said my embouchure was now “super good” and we could start really learning how to play.
I practiced hard.
Three months later my band had auditions again. This time I jumped from 33rd chair to 3rd chair. I even beat out all but two of the 6th graders who had been playing a year longer than I had. Wow! All the hard practicing was really paying off.
Then, my director asked me to hand in all my music. I didn’t know what was happening. Had I done something wrong? Was I in trouble? Nope, she just wanted to give me the 1st part for every song. I didn’t understand. What did 1st part mean?
I was so new to music that I didn’t realize there were different parts depending on how good you were. The best players played 1st part melody. I had been playing 3rd part harmony. Now I was getting the 1st part for all our songs – and that included the first part to ROCKY!
I rode my bike home as fast as I could and started playing that song, imagining I was running up the steps in Philly. I was playing the melody. I sounded like the theme song! (Well, kinda. I sounded like the simplified 5th grade version of the song, but I was playing the MELODY!)
From there I fell in love with the trumpet and ramped up my practicing. In junior high I was in two bands, practiced in the marching band after school and spent at least another hour practicing at home each day.
In 8th grade I auditioned for the all county band and made 1st chair. That meant I was the best junior high trumpet player in all of Orange County, Florida (Orlando). I thought that was pretty cool.
In fact, I got a little cocky. I let my practice schedule slip. I didn’t work as hard on new songs. I didn’t ask my private teacher to push me as hard.
The next year, as a 9th grader I auditioned for the all county band again – and only made third chair. An 8th grader was second chair! How did I let this happen?
I realized that I had become complacent with my trumpet. I wasn’t looking for new songs and new challenges. I was resting on my accomplishments. While I was doing that, other people were working hard to get better. And they passed me by.
How many of us have done that in some part of our life or work?
Sometimes it’s because we get bored or tired. Other times it’s because we aren’t paying attention to the changes in our business or life. Still other times we aren’t looking for the ways to innovate and change to reach a new level of success.
If we want to fix that, we have to keep looking for the next Rocky Theme Song that gets us excited. That’s what helps drive us to put in the hard work it takes to become the best version of ourselves we can.
Question for comment:
What’s your next Rocky? What’s gonna make you fly now?
You have a Passionate Purpose and you’re going for it, but your motivation is failing. You’re just not sure all the effort is worth it.
Or, you have a goal that you’ve started working on several times, but you just can’t seem to achieve it.
I feel ya.
Recently, I put on a “little weight” (and we all know what that means). I know it’s not good for me, I don’t feel very good when I overeat, and I don’t like how I look. I saw a picture of myself on my phone and thought, who’s the chubby dude?
So I set a goal target weight, figured out how many pounds I could lose per week, and decided when I would meet my goal. Then I planned how many calories a day I would consume.
For the first few days I was doing great! Then, the weekend came and I had a cheat day. That turned into a cheat weekend. Then, I was hit or miss on my diet. This went on for a few months.
I was so frustrated with myself. Why couldn’t I do this? I figured out that I hadn’t tied my goal to a strong enough why. When you want to eat your favorite foods, or you want to overeat, or you want to have a couple of drinks (high in empty calories) what are you going to tell yourself to stay motivated?
I have now created some strong short and long term “whys” for my weight loss goal. My daughter is graduating high school in 8 weeks. So I’m tying my goal and deadline to that.
Short term why:
To look my best for her party and all the family photos.
Long term whys: To live healthier and longer for my wife and daughters
To have more energy
To feel better after I eat (not stuffed and bloated)
To look better for my wife and myself
To be a good example for my daughters
Now every time I start to think about slipping back to my old ways of eating, I read my “whys.” That helps me focus on the short-term and long-term pleasure I will get instead of the short-term pain I’m feeling.
I still have a cheat day once a week, but I don’t turn it into an all-I-can-eat day like I used to.
You can use this with any goal or purpose you’re struggling with. Tie it to a strong why. Focus on it. Say it out loud to yourself if you need to. Meditate on it until you feel your motivation kick in again.
Why we do something is vital to the level of motivation and persistence we give to it. It also figures prominently in determining how much enjoyment we get out of it. Sometimes we put out a lot of time and effort before we realize we’ve anchored it all to a “why” that doesn’t serve us very well.
I was reminded of this when my daughter was practicing the piano and working on a fairly difficult jazz piece. After a while she plopped down on the couch beside me, looking frustrated.
I asked her what was wrong and she said, “I want to impress people by playing this song, but it’s hard.”
Before I could stop myself, I laughed out loud. I reminded her that if it was easy, everyone would do it. But then we got to the more important point. Doing something to impress others will never truly satisfy. The feeling you get from it is hollow and won’t last. It also means you’re allowing others to determine your worth. Why would you want to do that?
We all know this, yet somehow the “impressive” trap can sneak up on us. My wife, Anne, admits how it got to her in the story of her two careers.
Her first degree is in finance. Anne had big plans to become a senior executive in the banking industry. In just her first few years out of school, she was well on her way as an assistant vice president in private banking.
But, then she started volunteering as a tutor for at risk students at an inner city elementary school. She loved helping the little girl who was assigned to her. After a while, Anne realized she enjoyed tutoring much more than she enjoyed banking. If she was going to be honest, she didn’t like her job at all.
Anne had thought about becoming a teacher earlier in her life, but she worried about what other people might say. “Anne, you’re a straight A student, why would you use that just to teach elementary school?”
She knew that people say they value teachers, but many think if you’re a teacher it’s because you can’t do anything else. Or, you just want your summers off. Anne knew that wasn’t true, but she was letting other people’s opinions decide her fate.
She finally admitted to herself that the main reason she chose to be a finance major and go into banking was to impress others. Anne wanted people to know she was smart. She wanted the prestigious job title. She didn’t want anyone patting her on the head telling her what a cute, little teacher she was.
Once she figured that out, it didn’t take long for her to rework her “why.” She wanted to help inspire and teach our children to make our future brighter. Anne went back to school and got her Masters in Education.
She has helped change the lives of countless children and just won the award for teacher of the year at her school. She gets great joy out of teaching! She found the “why” that motivates her.
The “whys” that truly motivate us for the long term, and for the best results, are intrinsic. It’s not about impressing someone, or making our parents/significant other/society happy.
It’s about creating the extraordinary life of our dreams. It’s about growing, learning, being challenged, and achieving. It’s about enjoying what we do, not just the results of what we do. It’s about being the masters of our fate and embracing that.
Most of all, it’s about transcending ourselves, making a difference, and living a life that matters.
“Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.” –Daniel Pink
Greg, that idea about finding and pursuing your Passionate Purpose sounds great, but haven’t you heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? You have to take care of the basics befor you go after self actualization. Once I’m a success, then I’ll worry about my purpose.
I’m a big believer in Maslow’s theory. If you don’t have anything to eat or a place to live, you’re probably not as concerned about going to a museum to look at a piece of art. I get it.
But, I think finding and pursuing your Passionate Purpose helps you get everything else you need to live – not just to live better.
Most people have heard of Viktor Frankl’s classic, Man’s Search for Meaning. (If you’ve never read it, start reading it today.) He gives his account of what it was like to be in a Nazi concentration camp during WWII, and then he turns to the importance of purpose.
Frankl found that if a prisoner had no purpose left in life – if he saw no hope – he was doomed. If, however, a prisoner saw a purpose in life he could cling to, his chances of survival dramatically improved.
Research in some of the poorest places in the world has supported the idea that a strong sense of purpose keeps people going in the direst of conditions. In many cases, it helps people live happy, healthy lives where we would think there would be no hope.
People living in third world countries have said their Passionate Purpose is to:
Help my family survive.
Educate the children in my village so they will have more opportunities.
Spread happiness to everyone I meet.
Get my village clean drinking water.
Be able to move my family to a better place where we will all be safe.
These purposes keep them motivated and inspired to live a life with meaning -to live a life that makes a difference.
In fact, finding and pursuing a Passionate Purpose may be more important before you become successful. It’s what gets you up when you really want to stay in bed. It’s what gives you optimism when your circumstances can’t justify it. It’s what gives you courage to face the tough situations. And, it’s what let’s you enjoy this life, when others would wallow in depression.
My belief is that finding and pursuing your Passionate Purpose is at every level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs scale. Regardless of where we live, or how much money we make, to live our best lives we need it in everything we do.
The following is a rough transcript of the podcast (except for my interview):
Today we’re going to hit on the idea of finding and pursuing your passionate purpose, how that makes a difference in the world.
Then we’re going to talk about how much habits impact our lives and how to get rid of the bad ones and create new ones.
And we’ll end with an encouraging message to go for the life you’ve always dreamed of.
Ready? Let’s GO!
We’re all diff, but some things are universal. You want to matter, count, and make a difference. You want to live a life of value and significance.
God made us that way. You want to live intentionally, with purpose and passion.
How do we do that? We have to find our passionate purposes in every part of our lives. We have to take the gifts we were given and increase them and use them to help and serve others.
When we do that, everyone wins. In our relationships, family, work, finances, faith. It all gets better when we’re doing what we were brought here to do.
I love seeing this in people’s lives:
We had family movie night at the Knapp house over the weekend and we watched Eddie the Eagle. It’s a feel good comedy based on the true story of Michael Eddie Edwards.
What I loved about the film was the message on the importance of a Passionate Purpose.
Eddie had knee problems as a child and had to wear a leg brace. The doctors told him he should give up on sports. His father told him he would never be an athlete.
But, when Eddie was little he read a book about great moments in Olympic history. From that point on he was determined to become an Olympian, have his moment, and prove everyone wrong.
He had a passionate purpose and he had a strong why that supported it.
He tried a lot of different sports and none seemed promising. He had spent years trying to get on the British Olympic team in downhill skiing, but couldn’t quite make it. Most people would have given up.
His passionate purpose continued to drive him.
Eddie figured out that no one had been a ski jumper for Britain since 1929 and there were no qualifying distances to make the team. (However, the Brits decided to rewrite the rules and set up a qualifying distance.)
He convinced an old, drunk ski jumper to coach him. Using his own money, and any he could borrow, Eddie trained for a year and made the Olympic team.
Not only had his passionate purpose turned him into a decent ski jumper it also gave his coach a purpose to get sober and do something with his life.
A strong purpose can change more than just your life. What strong purpose is motivating you to great things in your life?
If you don’t have one right now, it’s time to find one.
Greg, Can I Really Get the Life You Want? Yes! If…
You’re excited about the idea of finding and pursuing your passionate purpose. You’ve visited a few websites about it, watched some videos, and maybe even read a book about how to do it. You’ve been dreaming about what your best life would look like.
But…nothing’s changed. You aren’t taking action. Five years ago you were in the same situation and a year from now?
–Amelia Earhart said, “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”
If you read my blog, social media posts and book, you know I’m a super positive, encouraging, optimistic guy. (And humble!)
But, let’s get real here, ya’ll. Tough love time. IF you really want to live an extraordinary life where you pursue your Passionate Purpose, I can’t sugar coat this.
If you have thought about it – or tried to do it – before and failed, you’ve made excuses.
Here are some that I’ve heard (and used myself from time to time).
Only the lucky few get to do that
I’m not rich enough
I’m afraid I’ll fail
I don’t have the right connections
I’m not a genius
I’m afraid I’ll lose all my money
You have to be really talented to do that
I don’t know how to do it
I’m afraid I’ll get divorced over it
I don’t want to sacrifice my wife/husband/kids/relationships to do that
I’m not educated enough
Now’s not the right time
It’s too hard
I won’t make enough money to live on if I do that
I’m not good enough
I don’t deserve it
People from my family don’t do that
It’s selfish and greedy to want to do that
I don’t have enough time to do everything I would need to do
I’ll do it someday
Those are just some of the excuses I’ve heard to make people feel better about giving up on their dreams. I’m sure you could help me come up with more. Some of these concerns are real. I don’t want to suggest that going after what you really want is easy and requires no sacrifice. That’s just dreaming.
But, if you really want to pursue your Passionate Purpose and go after that extraordinary life, you have got to cowboy up for a serious ride.
Do you really want to look back on your life and list the excuses why you never tried? Do you want to use your children, spouse and friends as human shields to protect you from your fears of going for something great? Do you really believe that ALL successful people are divorced, greedy, horrible human beings who sacrificed all their values to get where they are in life?
Am I going to stop talking in questions? Yes. Right now.
The reason you aren’t taking action and going after this isn’t because you don’t have talent—nothing in the world is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. It’s not because you aren’t smart enough, don’t know the right people, or don’t have enough money to get started. It’s not because you don’t have enough time. We all have the same 24 hours in each day.
Look, all the excuses really boil down to one. Fear.
Change is scary. All those excuses we listed create fear. Your mind is screaming at you to avoid fear and risk. Subconsciously, your brain is telling you that you get more out of not changing than you think you would get out of changing.
“But, I really want to change. What? Your actions are so loud I can’t hear what you’re saying.” — Greg Knapp
IF you really want this, it’s time to convince yourself these aren’t just wants, they are needs.
Time to convince yourself that the fear and pain that always comes with change is worth it for the chance to live the extraordinary life of your dreams.
Time to convince yourself that NOT changing is risky, too. Imagine living your whole life and NEVER going for what you could have had!
If you are tired of just getting by and letting days, months, and years slip past without achieving what you know you were put on this earth by your Creator to do, then now is the time.
Get your mindset right.
Understand fear creeps in but can be handled.
Determine what you want.
Set your course.
How much longer will you wait?
Another thing that can hold us back is our habits. So much of what we do habitual. We try to change and we fall back to old habits.
We can use habits to our advantage if we can create new, good ones that keep us on course to live out our Passionate Purpose intentionally.
Charles Duhigg has written a great book about this, called, The Power of Habit- Why we do what we do in life and business, and he’s joining me now on Your Passionate Purpose. Charles, how are you?
I want to encourage you that you can find and pursue your passionate purposes in every part of your life. God gave you gifts and talents that he wants you to grow and use for His glory, to serve people and to live an abundant life.
Steven Covey said, “Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment”
The world needs what you have to offer. I’ll see you tomorrow.
It’s a lot easier to pursue your Passionate Purpose when you have someone on your side, encouragins you, helping you, and holding you accountable.
Greg, is this going to be a post about having an accountability partner? That’s an old, boring idea. Come on, man.
Hang on a second. You’re right that it’s an old idea, but here’s a question for you: Do you have an accountability partner who’s helping you achieve your most important goal right now?
Don’t feel bad, most of us don’t. We all know it’s a good idea, but most of us never follow through with it. Some of us start off with an accountability partner and then over a few weeks or months, we drift until the idea fades.
The times I have stuck with an accountability partner have paid huge dividends for me. I used one to get serious about working out and I used one to write my first book. Anytime I felt like skipping a workout, or not working on my book, I knew I would have to answer to my partner. I also knew I’d be letting him down.
That pushed me and kept me going. Better yet, the encouragement I got from my partner for all my hard work really inspired me.
I even discovered something super cool about having an accountability partner. When you help someone else achieve their goals, that helps you, too. It makes you feel great, and it gives you extra energy and incentive to keep going after what you really want.
Ok, Greg, you’ve sold me. So, how do I get – and keep – a partner? And how do we hold each other accountable in an encouraging way?
First, you need to get 100% clear on exactly what you want and why you want it.
Write that down.
When will you do “x” by?
How will you know you’ve done it?
Write that down.
Who will you choose as your accountability partner? It should be someone who shares your desire for an extraordinary life, someone who will support you in your efforts and kick you in the butt when you need it.
Be careful not to get someone who really doesn’t think you’re going to achieve your goal. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I’ve seen people set themselves up for failure that way.
Search for someone you look up to, who has a reputation for doing what he says, and for following through.
I find the best accountability partners are people who want you to hold them accountable for goals they’re working on in their life as well. When you encourage each other and hold each other accountable, great things happen.
If you can find someone who has a goal very similar to yours, that’s even better. I have found that it’s often better to find someone who isn’t a family member or a super close friend. Sometimes, when we’re that close, we don’t feel comfortable pushing each other.
Is there someone in your circle of friends at church, work, or in the neighborhood you would feel comfortable working with?
Get an accountability partner today or tomorrow. Don’t wait.
Schedule a time once a week for an accountability phone call and half way through the week exchange an accountability email.
The content of the call and the email is simple. Ask each other:
What did you say you would do this week?
What work have you done on that?
What adjustments do you need to make to improve your progress?
What can I do to help you?
Encourage each other
Celebrate mini successes
Remind each other how far you’ve come
Support each other on the “why” behind your goals.
That struck a chord with me. When my dad and I were getting along well and had a good father/son relationship, I hung on his every word. I wanted to be like him. When our relationship was strained, I turned to my friends for guidance on how to live and what to do.
The speaker told us how he had a very tough time in school. At 13, he was tall and sickly thin – so thin he couldn’t even play sports. He also had horrible acne with pimples as big as nickels.
Kids can be mean and every day at school was misery. But more mornings than not, his mother would stop him at the door, as he was about to leave, look him in the eye and say, “I know it’s hard for you right now. But I want you to know that I believe in you. I love you. God loves you, and he has big things planned for you.”
Because he had a great relationship with his mother, her words had great influence on him. They carried him through the tough days. Later in life those words rang in his ears as he started to write the first of 24 books. They encouraged him as he preached to 8,000 people on the steps of our nation’s capital.
Her relationship with her son gave her great power and influence with him.
I think it’s the same for every part of our lives. Our power is derived from the relationships we have with people, not from our title or perceived power.
We’ve all seen the boss who has very little influence with his employees because he has a horrible relationship with them. He can fire them, but he can’t get them to do their best for him.
How about the politician who becomes known for corruption and lying? Who wants to continue to volunteer to help her win re-election?
But, when your family, friends, coworkers, and followers know you care about them – when you have invested in deep relationships with them – they are willing to run through brick walls for you.
You matter to them. And they matter to you.
True, caring, deep relationships give you great power and influence.
How can you grow your most important relationships to have more power for good than you’ve ever imagined?
Greg, this “Passionate Purpose” stuff sounds a little new-agey, touchy-feely to me. I’ve read some articles and books that are saying the idea of following your passion doesn’t work. I’ve even read stuff that says setting goals means you just end up failing and feeling bad about yourself. Is that true?
No, and yes, or yes and no. I’m not trying to avoid answering the question, but that’s really the answer. (Those are the answers?) Another great quote from Henry Ford explains it: “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
Yes, figuring out why you’re here, discovering your Passionate Purpose, setting goals and not reaching them can be frustrating, and sometimes depressing. But, you know what can be even more depressing? Never figuring out your purpose, never setting any goals, and never achieving any goals.
You know what’s a lot better than not setting goals so you won’t feel bad if you don’t succeed? Setting goals and actually achieving them. You are not going for a passionless existence. You are living an impassioned life!
When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind. –Seneca, Roman philosopher
It’s all about your mindset, how you set your goals, the plan you create to achieve them, and the execution of your plan.
But ask yourself this: What gives you a better chance of living out your dreams, figuring out what they are and pursuing them or just floating through life whichever way the wind blows?
But, Greg, doesn’t success at your job create passion? That works for some people, for a while. But how many people earning a good income do you know who hate their jobs?
Doctors, dentists, and lawyers all make it into the top 20 of highest suicide rates by profession and those are some of our higher-paying jobs. It’s not all about the cheddar, is it? Golden handcuffs still chafe and hurt just as much as the cheap ones do.
You have to decide these answers for yourself. For me, I want to live out the “why” of my existence. I want to pursue what I’m passionate about and use that to make me rich in every sense of the word.
You might be surprised to find that you will eventually make more money following your passion than you do right now trying to slog through the day. Then again, you might not. But at a certain point, money isn’t the number one priority, is it?
My goals definitely include creating a good income for my family and me, but a goal like earning $1 million per year is not my primary motivator. It’s not my top “why” for my Passionate Purpose.
My “whys” include inspiring people, creating more freedom for myself, helping people live their dreams, a flexible schedule, doing what I love, and taking more vacations with my family. If you took all those away and simply paid me more for doing a soul-sucking job 50 hours a week, I’d say no thanks.
What about you?