“If I’m Going To Be Here, I’m Going To Be Great”
The entrepreneur Mark Cuban is frequently approached by people who are stuck. “They’re stuck in a job they don’t like. They’re stuck working for a boss they don’t like. They’re stuck on a team they don’t like,” he explained. “I just tell them, ‘Be great.’” “The reality of life is that you can’t just always quit your job. You can’t just always go to your boss and say, ‘Give me the promotion, or I’m out of here.’ So when you’re stuck, you’ve gotta find it within yourself to say, ‘Ok, this is where I am. And if I’m going to be here, I’m going to be great.’” The benefit is, first, “it always feels great to be great.” And, second, “if you’re great at your job, typically other people and companies find out, so it creates opportunities.” This SIX at 6 is all about people finding it within themselves to say, “Ok, this is where I am. And if I’m going to be here, I’m going to be great.”
Treat Every Rep Like It’s The Super Bowl
After his second year at Michigan, Tom Brady wanted to transfer. He wasn’t playing in games, and he was so low on the depth chart that he only got 2 reps in practice. Brady met with his coach to express his frustration, “The other quarterbacks get all the reps.” His coach replied, “Brady, I want you to stop worrying about what all the other players on our team are doing. All you do is worry about what the starter is doing, what the second guy is doing, what everyone else is doing. You don’t worry about what you’re doing.” Coach reminded him, “You came here to be the best. If you’re going to be the best, you have to beat out the best.” And then he recommended that Brady start meeting with Greg Harden, a counselor who worked in Michigan’s athletic department. Brady went to Harden’s office and whined, “I’m never going to get my chance. They’re only giving me 2 reps.” Harden simply replied, “Just go out there and focus on doing the best you can with those 2 reps. Make them as perfect as you possibly can.” “So that’s what I did,” Brady said. “They’d put me in for those 2 reps, man, I’d sprint out there like it was Super Bowl 39. ‘Let’s go boys! Here we go! What play we got?’” “And I started to do really well with those 2 reps. Because I brought enthusiasm, I brought energy.” Soon, it went from getting 2 reps to getting 4 reps. Then from 4 to 10, “and before you knew it,” Brady said, “with this new mindset that Greg instilled in me—to focus on what you can control, to focus on what you’re getting, not what anyone else is getting, to treat every rep like it’s the Super Bowl—eventually, I became the starter.”
You Should Act As Well As You Can
Just after winning the 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama (Capote), Philip Seymour Hoffman explained the approach that helped him reach the top of his profession. In reply to a question about what advice he’d give to aspiring actors, Hoffman said, “This is something a teacher told me years ago, and he’s right: even if you’re auditioning for something that you know you’re never going to get or for something you read and didn’t like—if you get a chance to act in a room that somebody else has paid rent for, then you’re given a free chance to practice your craft. And in that moment, you should act as well as you can.” “Because when you act as well as you can,” Hoffman says, echoing Cuban, “there’s no way the people who have watched you will forget it.” So it leads to opportunities, but more importantly, “at the end of the day, all that matters is the work. Everybody knows that. If I show up one day and the work I’m doing isn’t any good, then I’m just a guy who’s not acting well…So I would say it to anybody starting out: if you’re given a chance to act, take those words and bring them alive. If you do that, something good will transpire ultimately.”
Don’t Wait To Be Discovered. Discover Yourself
After graduating from high school, Mike Myers left his hometown in Canada and moved to the United Kingdom to pursue a comedy career. He got gigs here and there, but for the most part, it was hard to get jobs. He was stuck. “So I went, ‘nobody’s hiring me. I’ll hire myself.’” He formed a comedy troupe, and once while performing with that troupe in London, he was discovered by a Saturday Night Live producer named Pam Thomas. Thomas was in London on vacation and just happened to pop into the club where Myers’ troupe was performing. When Thomas got back to New York City, she recommended Myers to SNL creator Lorne Michaels. Reflecting on his career trajectory—from Canada to London, SNL to Wayne’s World and Austin Powers—Myers noticed a pattern. “Things always happened when I completely gave up the concept of being discovered.” “Don’t wait to be discovered,” he said. “Discover yourself. Don’t wait to be hired. Hire yourself.” Don’t wait for the circumstances to be great. Always be great.
Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You
“Despite a lack of natural ability,” Steve Martin writes in Born Standing Up, he would go on to put together one of the most decorated careers in the history of entertainment (five Grammy Awards, an Emmy Award, a couple of Lifetime Achievement Awards, an Honorary Oscar, and so on and so on). Someone stood up in an audience once and asked, how do you become successful? “You have to become undeniably good at something,” he said. “Nobody ever takes my advice, because it’s not the answer they wanted to hear…but I always say, ‘Be so good they can’t ignore you.’ If you are just always thinking, ‘How can I be really good?’—people will come to you.”
She Could Not But Succeed
In Little Women, Louisa May Alcott writes of the oldest March sister, Meg: “She brought so much love, energy, and cheerfulness to the work that she could not but succeed.” Brady brought so much love, energy, and cheerfulness to those 2 reps he could not but succeed. Hoffman brought so much love, energy, and cheerfulness to his acting he could not but succeed. Myers brought so much love, energy, and cheerfulness to his comedy troupe he could not but succeed. If you are just always thinking, ‘If I’m going to be here, I’m going to be great’—you can not but succeed.