If you read this blog regularly, you know that I am a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan. I grew up in Pittsburgh. My dad had Steelers season tickets for many years. He gave them up only because he moved to Florida. He learned to use the Internet at age 70, so he could follow the Steelers on line. He really cares about the Steelers. I’m not that much of a fanatic, but there is no professional sports team more near and dear to my heart than the Pittsburgh Steelers.
On Sunday, February 1 2009, Steelers won the Super Bowl. On Monday, February 2 2009, Mike Tomlin, their coach, noted that because the Steelers were in the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl, he was “a month behind getting ready for the 2009 season. We’ve got to be thoughtful in how we prepare our football team.”
Some may say, “Chill, Mike, savor what you’ve just accomplished.” However, Mike Tomlin knows that outstanding performers don’t rest on their laurels. They care about what they do, and they care about their life and career success. High performers always set higher goals and look towards greater achievements. The Optimist Creed urges us to “Press on to the greater achievements of the future.”
That’s what Mike Tomlin was doing the day after he won the Super Bowl, and that’s what all outstanding performers do. They set high goals and meet them. Then they set higher goals and meet them too.
Mike Tomlin is 36 years old. He is the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl. That’s pretty impressive. But not to Tomlin. Because he cares deeply about winning he says he expected that kind of success and expects more. On the other hand, he is humble. He realizes that football is a team game. Coaches don’t win Super Bowls on their own; neither do players. They need one another…
“I’m an unrealistic dreamer sometimes. I’m blessed, extremely blessed. I’ve been around some great people – coaches, players, ownership – and I’m a product of that. That’s my story.”
And a great story it is. It shows the power of caring about what you do.
I care about helping people create the life and career success they want and deserve. I care a lot. That’s why I wrote Success Tweets and I give it away for free. That’s why I am writing this series of blog posts explaining each of the 141 tweets in more detail. I care so much about this that I’ve committed to writing 700 or 800 words every day for 28 weeks. I’ve also committed to doing a podcast on each of the tweets. I do this because I care. I care a lot about helping you achieve the kind of career success you deserve. And I know that this caring will pay off in me becoming an outstanding career success coach – somebody who gives really great career advice.
When you care you do your very best. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of one of my favorite books: To Kill a Mockingbird. There is a passage in that book that has always stuck with me. It’s in Chapter 11 and is spoken by Atticus Finch, the father, played by Gregory Peck in the film. He’s speaking to Scout, his daughter…
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”
It takes courage to care. Because when you care, you put yourself out there. You do your best. And doing your best can be a scary thing. When you care, when you consciously do your best and fail, it is heartbreaking. But at least you have the satisfaction of knowing you did your best.
I remember when I applied to graduate school at Harvard. I decided that I was going to demonstrate to myself how much I cared by writing the very best application I could. I wasn’t going to let myself off the hook if I didn’t get accepted by saying, “I could have written a better application, but I just didn’t spend the time I should have.”
When I put my application in the mailbox – we still did quaint things like that back in the old days – I was proud of what I had written. I knew it was the very best I could do. I was also frightened because I knew that my best might not be good enough. After all, both of my other degrees were from state schools. Who was I to think that those kind of credentials would get me accepted at Harvard?
I cared about the quality of my application, so I did the very best I could. The story in this case has a happy ending. I was accepted and got my degree. Even if I had not been accepted, I would have been proud of myself because I cared enough to write the best application I could, and I dared enough to admit it to myself.
The common sense career success coach point here is simple. Successful people are proud of what they do. They care. They follow the career advice in Success Tweet 100. “Care about what you do. If you care a little, you’ll be an OK performer. If you care a lot, you’ll become an outstanding performer.” Does your work show that you care? Or does it reflect an “it’s good enough” attitude? Take it from a career success coach, if you want to create the life and career success of which you are capable, make sure that how much you care shows through in every single piece of work you do.