Superbowl 50 ended a few hours ago. Yay Broncos!
Even if you’re not a Broncos fan or a football geek, you notice, perhaps by going to Home Depot, that the American machine screeches to a stop to pay homage to the sport, the athletes who play the sport, and dare I say it? pride in our crazy, mixed-up country. Cynicism aside for a moment, the Superbowl breathes life into US.
You also know if you log on to any web browser that the Denver Broncos won today 24 to 10. The Carolina Panthers go home without the trophy, without the rings, without the Nike hats, shirts, without the sports drink endorsement deals, and $50,000 less per player in pay. Each Bronco earns $102,000. Peyton Manning earns an additional $2M.
Each year the entertainment value of the Superbowl increases. This year Lady Gaga sang the national anthem, the Blue Angels flying over as she let out from her gut “…of the brave” with such emotion, she brought tears to my eyes. Beyonce, Bruno Mars, and Cold Play performed at halftime; and a daschund ran through a commercial in a hotdog bun. For some of us, the Superbowl allows us to dream the possible dream.
Truly. The Superbowl is one of the few opportunities we have to watch the best of the best compete. In this case, the players and teams fight for athletic recognition and sponsor endorsement$$$. And the winners take all.
I watch the Superbowl, the NFL playoffs, the World Series, and the Women’s World Cup, or certain parts of them because the human beings who play in them are AMAZING athletes. The best of the best; genetically, through practice, and with timing, luck, and circumstance.
The athletes’ play is their work; their work is their play. Their sport is their life. They focus their attention on the goal of being as good as they can be. They love what they do. At least we imagine they do. Otherwise, why would they do it and why would we watch the Superbowl?
Most people dislike the work they do, and I am guessing that watching the Superbowl gives them a break from that reality. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon in February.
But I wonder…what does it mean to love what you do? Can you even imagine loving what you do? This may be simpler than you think.
First you have to know what you love. At the risk of sounding evangelical or redundant, bear with me as I switch to the concepts we learn in meditation.
You first need awareness. What is your passion, your love, your desire?
This is different from what do you do for a living. The answer will be unique for you. Maybe you love dancing, making art, playing music, writing songs, writing poetry, making deals, writing books, playing basketball, surfing, hiking, running, helping others, collecting Japanese manga, gardening, public speaking, teaching, advocating for a cause or a group of people or animals or the environment.
Awareness…what makes your juices flow? Not what did your parents want you to be when you grow up and not what is the quickest way to earn a living that leads to the home and cars and other stuff of your choice.
Awareness…what do other people need? If there is no need, there is no market and you will love what you do but you won’t survive financially, probably, I’m not sure about that one. This is the reason or excuse you will hear from yourself and others when you say, “I love hiking and meditation and writing and that’s what I’m going to be the best I can be at.”
“Hiking, meditating, and writing?” you’ll hear yourself say. “You can’t earn a living doing that.”
You might have heard you, or someone you know, say something like “When I was young, I loved making art. First my parents and then I, convinced me that I would not earn enough money to survive if I focused my attention on making art. So, instead of focusing my attention on mastering my skills as an artist, I fumbled around looking for a career that would pay my bills.” Sad, but true stories.
That’s exactly the type of thinking that prevents any of us from spending time and energy practicing the skills and honing the passion that drives us to master whatever it is we’re drawn to. Remember the 10,000 Hour Rule that Malcolm Gladwell wrote about in Outliers? It takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. If you tell yourself you can’t or shouldn’t do whatever it is, you won’t feel confident enough to devote time to mastering the skills necessary to find out if you can survive doing it. And that thing called love?…gone.
Self-criticism and self-doubt will quash the love you have for what you love doing.
Imagine following your dreams…doing what you love instead of doing what you think you should do or what will earn you the most money. How scary is that? You won’t find a formula for that path. No college degree X = career and income Y.
In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell noticed that a group of successful people were all born within nine years of each other in the early 1800’s. Names you would recognize: Rockefeller, Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, all Caucasian men, all financial wizards, who made their fortunes in the late 1800’s when the American economy went through a transformation possibly similar to the one we experienced in 2008. These men had to have loved making deals. They were willing to take risks, and had timing and luck on their side.
They had no roadmap, no safe plan to follow. In a sense, they had the confidence, insanity, or both to jump off a cliff into uncharted territory.
Leap and your wings will grow.
Equanimity means inner peace. It means standing still in the midst of chaos and it means having the wherewithal to be able to think clearly, to observe calmly, to take in what is…not what you want to see. Jumping into the unknown takes a lot of this stuff we call equanimity. You need courage and confidence to continue when there is no support for what you want to, even need to, do.
In a 2013 Forbes magazine article Marc Bodnick (Why Do So Many People Hate Their Jobs?) writes:
…people hate their jobs because, now more than ever, there is the possibility to love their jobs … and they don’t.
We watch amazing athletes compete against each other and imagine them loving what they do. We watch amazing performers sing and dance and imagine them loving what they do. We watch amazing creativity played out in half-time commercials and imagine the artists and writers loving what they do. And then, through a sort of osmosis, we imagine ourselves following whatever dreams we left in childhood and loving what we do.
We live in a time and place where we have the luxury to imagine loving what we do. You owe it to yourself and to the rest of us to at least go that far. Put your toes on the edge and look over. Imagine your wings growing. And then imagine jumping off the cliff. Take the road you haven’t yet traveled.
Go Broncos! Go you!