My first job in talk radio way back in the 90s was not as a talk show host. I was working for minimum wage doing all the grunt work and overnight shifts. I even had to buy time to get a chance to be on the air. Fairly quickly they were “kind” enough to let me provide a show for the station for free, but I still wasn’t getting paid.
YES! I always wanted to work for free! Ok, maybe not. I wasn’t exactly reaching my radio dreams…yet.
Even though my wife’s job and my part time job as a mental health counselor were earning enough to support us, I felt like I was letting her down. I told her I was about to quit the radio dream and get a full time counseling job.
She convinced me to stay at it at least until the end of the year. (She’s awesome.) She said, “Hey, you’re actually pretty good at this.” (Yeah, she’s funny, too.)
About a month later I was offered a full time job as a talk show host on the number one station in town. That was the start of my 21 year career as a radio talk show host including national syndication and stints in Dallas, Kansas City, and Jacksonville. What if I’d given up one month before my big break?
I was reminded of this while I was watching The Voice with my daughter. One of the contestants is married with children. He’s a teacher and sings on the side. He’s been doing it for over a decade without much success. He told his brother he was about to give up on the idea of a singing career – and then he got a spot on The Voice.
1) Remember why you want this. Is that why still strong for you? Why are you working this hard? Why are you doing what other people aren’t willing to do? Isn’t is because then you will get to do what other people aren’t able to do?
2) Review the progress you’ve made so far. You might be surprised at what you’ve already accomplished.
3) Review your plan. What parts are working? What parts aren’t working? What could you change to get better results?
4) Imagine what your life would be like if this started turning around for you? What would change? How would that impact you, and those around you? How would it make you feel?
5) Give yourself some grace. Maybe you just need to slow down and take a bit more time on this. Maybe you’re burning yourself out and expecting too much too soon. Go for smaller successes and then build to bigger things. You’re human, and that’s ok.
When I was a kid it was really hard to get out of bed to go to school every day. I hit the snooze bar several times, fell back asleep, moaned and groaned, and finally, begrudgingly got up.
But at the age of ten I joined a bowling league. (Yes, I was one of those kids.) The league was every Saturday at 9am. I had to get up at the same time I got up for school in order to be at the bowling alley on time. And here’s the strange thing. Even though I stayed up later on Friday nights than I did on school nights, I never hit the snooze bar on Saturday mornings. Most of the time I didn’t even need my alarm. I would happily pop out of bed and get ready to go bowling.
I didn’t wake up tired, I woke up inspired.
What made the difference in my wake up attitude? I loved bowling. I looked forward to it. (Maybe my mom should have taken me to a counselor. Hey, what’s wrong with bowling?) My best friend was on my team and I didn’t want to let him down. I was excited to get up early and go bowling.
I didn’t hate school. I liked some of my classes and I enjoyed seeing my friends. But the school structure did not excite me and most of my classes bored the mess out of me. It was tough to get excited about.
As an adult, I’ve noticed the same phenomenon.
While I’m giving a presentation to a few hundred people or hosting a radio show, or playing a gig with my guitar I don’t feel tired. I feel supercharged. I’m hyped. (Even when my radio show was four hours long every week day, it didn’t wear me out. It actually took me a while to calm down once I was off the air.)
I’m passionate about those things and I love doing them.
When’s the last time this has happened to you? Isn’t it amazing that you can work harder and longer doing what you love – and still feel more energized and satisfied – than working shorter hours doing something you hate?
Yes, we all have to do things we don’t want to do. But, how often?
Is there a way you could do more of what you’re passionate about and less of what drains your energy? Wouldn’t that be awesome? Wouldn’t that help you and everyone who comes in contact with you?
Sure, Greg, and then I’ll ride a unicorn over a rainbow into a pot of gold.
I know it sounds impossible, but what if? How about this for a start?
1) Figure out what you love and what you don’t. Make a list of everything you do each day, for a week. Highlight all the activities you enjoy in green. Highlight all the activities you don’t enjoy in red.
Which type of activities are you spending most of your time on? If they aren’t the green ones, look out.
2) Now start looking for ways to minimize the red and maximize the green. Are there people who like what you dislike? Could you delegate to them? Could you group the things you dislike and do most of them once a week? Could you talk to your boss about where you do your best and see if that could be where you focus your time? Remember, it will help the company bottom line, too.
3) If none of that works, do you need to change jobs or careers to do more of what you’re passionate about?
4) Is there a way you can reframe the work you have to do that doesn’t energize you? Can you see the purpose of your work and how it helps others? For example, if you’re an insurance salesman instead of seeing your job as “selling insurance,” could you see it as helping people find the best way to keep themselves and their families healthy and financially protected?
5) Do this exercise with your personal life as well.
Life is too short to spend most of your week doing things that suck the life force out of you.
It has become trendy to say that following your passion will just lead to disappointment and the poor house. You’ll never be able to achieve your dream. You’ll put in a ton of work, spending a lot of money, and end a failure. Then, you come crawling back to your old, boring, frustrating job with your tail between your legs.
Sound familiar? Gee, I can’t figure out why fear holds some people back from creating the extraordinary life of their dreams!
Well, it can go like that if your passion is playing rap music on the accordion and singing after inhaling helium. (Hey, wait a second…that sounds kind of cool!)
But you know what’s even worse than finding your passion, going for it, and failing? Never even trying to figure out what you want in life, never even trying to go for it, and living a boring, frustrating, unhappy existence. Ready for me to sign you up for that?!
I don’t think some people understand what finding and pursuing your Passionate Purpose actually means.
It doesn’t mean wandering around for decades waiting for something to make your heart leap and then sliding down a rainbow into a pot of gold where you never have to do any hard work again.
It doesn’t even mean you were born with only one passion that will ever make you happy.
It doesn’t mean you can’t have multiple passionate purposes, or that they can’t change over time.
It doesn’t mean you immediately quit your current job and go broke trying to make your new thing work.
It doesn’t mean the first “passion” you try becomes your new career.
What it does mean is you were born for a purpose. You have a “why” in this world. When you find that, you find more meaning in your life. Your purpose can usually be pursued with talents and gifts you already have. How do you find them?
There are things you have done and experienced that you really liked and showed ability for. You already have some desires, beliefs, and values that could become something to build a life around.
Why not start pursuing one of those and see if it truly resonates with you? If it does, keep going and build on it. If it’s a vocational passion, see if you can start doing it on the side, without quitting your day job. If that goes well, keep expanding it and eventually see if you can replace your current job with it.
If it turns out you really aren’t that passionate about it after all…try another one of your passions! It’s ok to try new things. There is no ONE PERFECT PASSION FOR MY ENTIRE LIFE! (Well that’s not how it works for most of us.)
Most of us will have multiple passions that we want to include in our lives and they will change throughout the course of our lives. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Some of us will find a career we love and stick with it for 40 years. That’s great, too. Others of us will find ways to tweak what we do throughout our career to keep it fresh and exciting. And still others of us will decide to totally change our careers one or multiple times
There is no “right” way to go about this. But, I beg you to do it.
Some people claim you should just work hard at something and once you get better at it, you will become passionate about it. Well, I was really good at math in school. I worked hard at it – but I hated it. Should I have become an accountant or an engineer and tried to force myself to like it?
Doesn’t it make sense to try out things you really like (maybe even feel passionately about)? When something starts to click for you, that’s when you should develop your skills and become world class at it. That will grow your passion and your success.
But that isn’t the ending point. You will still need to research ways to monetize it. You will still need to create goals and action plans to get there. In other words, it still takes work.
But why wouldn’t you want to work at something you’re passionate about instead of something just to “earn a living?”
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.
You figured out your Passionate Purpose. You have a powerful “what,” that you really want. You have a compelling “why” that drives you. You have goals and action plans that support all of that.
Now, what can really supercharge your success?
I love what Steve Martin has to say about it. He was on the Charlie Rose show and was asked his advice for aspiring actors and comedians. Martin’s answer was not what Rose expected.
“Nobody ever takes note of (my advice), because it’s not the answer they wanted to hear. What they want to hear is ‘Here’s how you get an agent, here’s how you write a script,’ . . . but I always say, ‘Be so good they can’t ignore you.’ If somebody’s thinking, ‘How can I be really good?’ people are going to come to you.”
“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” –Steve Martin
That’s fantastic advice. Yes, a business plan is important. A marketing plan is important. A million things are important. But the best thing you can do to reach a level of success you’ve only dreamed of is to become so good they can’t ignore you.
What are you doing to become world class at your Passionate Purpose? If that’s not one of your goals, it needs to be.
We should be constantly learning and growing. Now, that doesn’t mean we read a book every night, listen to a podcast everyday and watch a Ted talk every afternoon at lunch. (Remember the problem with information overload we discussed earlier on day 14 Learn Less, More – Know Can Do. )
It means that every day you should be working on your craft, idea, book, business, etc. You should be learning and studying the best ways to be so good they can’t ignore you.
Part of that learning is repetition, repetition, repetition.
Learn the most important things about your Passionate Purpose so well that you don’t even have to think about them anymore. Make them automatic for you.
That allows you to add even more to what you know and do. That allows you to be creative and innovative. It allows you to come up with ideas in your field that no one else has ever done before. Or, it allows you to do them at such a high level that most people can’t keep up with you.
I played basketball in high school. The first year I made the team, I didn’t play my best. I was learning the playbook and there was a lot to learn. I was the point guard, so I needed to know where everyone was supposed to go for each play we ran.
We had a 40 series, a 20 series, plays for zone coverage, plays for man to man coverage, plays for full court press, etc. I was so worried about running the plays correctly, that I couldn’t really “play basketball.”
But, after a year and a summer in the system, I had the plays down cold for my second season. I no longer had to think about the plays. They were automatic. So, I was able to focus on the game. The plays were just the background to the opportunities I saw to pass, set picks, and shoot.
That’s when I became a creative basketball player again. That’s when I became so good coach couldn’t ignore me. That’s when I got some playing time.
How can you do that with your Passionate Purpose?
1) Research through Google, books, podcasts, blogs, videos, and seminars that can help you get the knowledge to improve your skills.
2) Use the Know Can Do method to really master the best techniques, instead of superficially learn a bunch of ideas. Learn Less, More. (See previous post for more.)
3) Use spaced repetition, repetition, repetition to learn it so well it becomes automatic.
4) Use the new techniques in your daily work. Integrate them into your life.
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?
Motivation is a tricky thing. It waxes and wanes like the moon. Some people claim motivation doesn’t work because it wears off.
Hold on, I eat three (or five) times a day. I guess I should just stop eating. It wears off.
I work out three times a week. I guess I should just stop exercising. It wears off.
I shower every day. I guess I should just stop showering. It wears off.
Sounds kind of ridiculous, doesn’t it? EVERYTHING wears off.
The question is, how do you stay motivated to pursue your Passionate Purpose? A big helper in that is finding an accountability partner. The word “partner,” is important here. This is going to be a mutually beneficial relationship. You are going to motivate each other.
So, find someone you like and trust who is also looking for an 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.
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. Once you find one:
Tell each other exactly what you want and why you want it
Set a date for when will complete “x”
Determine how will you know you’ve done it
Schedule a weekly phone call to review the past week’s activities towards your goals
If necessary, exchange an accountability email half way through the week
Encourage and challenge each other to keep going
To be clear, the content of the call and the email is simple:
1) What did you say you would do this week?
2) What work have you done on that?
3) What went right?
4) What didn’t go so well?
5) What’s holding you back?
6) What adjustments do you need to make to improve your progress?
7) What can you do to help your partner?
As you work on your Passionate Purpose, you will hit plateaus. Expect it and be ready to do the work necessary to break through them.
I was a guest on the Hello Techpros podcast this week. The topic was “How to get and stay motivated.” Please share it with anyone you think it will help. We’ve all had times when we feel motivated, but then get depressed when it doesn’t last. I hope this helps.
Your motivation will go up and down. No one stays super motivated all the time. You’re not happy all the time, or sad all the time.
People who say getting motivated and working on improving yourself are a waste of time because it wears off need to really think that through. Doesn’t everything wear off if you don’t keep up with it?
I play the guitar and I used to play the trumpet. When I play in a band I make sure I tune my instrument before we begin. Guess what? The instruments don’t stay in tune. I re-tune them every other song or so.
I take a shower every day. I eat three times a day. I lift weights three times a week. I practice my guitar every day.
Why do I have to do these things every day? If I do them once, shouldn’t that be enough?
That sounds crazy doesn’t it?
Everything wears off if we don’t work to improve our skills. What we need to do is build in ways to boost our motivation when it starts to lag.
Here are some ideas on how to get re-motivated when you’re starting to feel down:
Call your accountability partner.
Go on YouTube and listen to a motivational message.
Attend a motivational seminar.
Refresh your memory on why you’re working on these goals.
Reward yourself for the progress you’ve made so far.
I always come back to the “why.” Why are you working this hard? Why are you doing what other people aren’t willing to do? Because then you will get to do what other people aren’t able to do.