Surviving to Thriving – Mental Toughness (Steve Harris)
Chapter 4. Concentration
From yearn to yawn
I wonder how many people are in a job that provides them with a means to an end, rather than one driven by passion. I suspect many. The road to improved mental toughness starts with having a passion for what you do, particularly for work that results in an income. If you are in a job that is not underpinned by your passion, I suggest you discover what you are passionate about and if necessary, consider finding other work in line with your passion. Why not? On the other hand, you may have had passion initially and realised that you don’t really care so much about this job anymore. Maybe your reality had been an illusion. Again, find something you are currently passionate about.
Most people have an abundance of passion as they start their life’s journey. Tragically, some experience setbacks and wounds on the way that act as passion killers – they go from yearn to yawn. These people may be consigned to leading lives devoid of the benefits of high levels of passion. They exist on a continuum that ranges from being unaware that they lack passion, to the other extreme where they are aware that they lack it and cannot tap into this precious resource. The situation is aggravated if their lack of passion is associated with mental and emotional health or substance abuse challenges. Symptoms include reactive blaming, uncontrolled anger, hyper-anxiety, or depression.
The underpinning logic of passion lies in our primordial neurological baggage. We are hardwired with passion. Although, when passion is fuelling an intimate relationship, the word ‘logic’ is not always applicable. I recall a Blaise Pascal quote, which I am paraphrasing: “Love has its reasons about which reason knows naught.” Alternatively, one could say that where the heart leads, the mind will follow.
Martin Luther King Jr provided an enduring example of someone with great reserves of passion. He channelled passion into purpose, which was contained in his famous dream speech. His dream was a big, bold, and audacious intention for eradicating racism (King, 1963). King urged people to let their dreams shape their realities, rather than allowing their realities to dictate their dreams. He wanted us to progress beyond perceived limits imposed by past or present circumstances.
Michael Dell, the IT innovator, reputedly asked his staff to peer around corners, past clouds, and find limbs worth going out on.
Walter Isaacson writes in Steve Jobs (2011) that Jobs warned others not to fall into the trap of thinking you have something to lose. Your time is limited, so do not waste it. Almost everything falls away in the face of death – all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure. There is no reason not to follow your dream (Isaacson, 2011).
It is reasonable to assume that you will vigorously pursue and, when needed, defend a dream originating from passion. On the other hand, if you do not have a dream steeped in passion, it is unlikely to be sustainable over time.
Passion provided the motivation that paved the way to King’s purpose, expressed as a dream. But I suggest we need to interpret our passion and purpose into a personal plan. This plan includes a vision of where we want to go, how quickly you want to go there, what activities we want to undertake, and with whom you want to share the journey. These combine as a major contributor to having a sense of purpose and meaning. My question to the reader at this stage is: “How are you playing your game of life? Will you be dominated by the words – could’ve, should’ve, would’ve, didn’t?” When you are in the metaphoric departure lounge from this life, will you look back lamenting the many things you could have done, but didn’t?
eta College presents a series of interviews with industry leaders in sport and fitness.
In today’s episode we chat to Gary Rathbone (CEO of SABC Television Sport).