We’ve discussed many different topics. Here is a great real life example of overcoming adversity, which bring many topics together. This particular episode and its example brings in many different pieces that we’ve had in the past and shows a great example of goals, ensuring the drive to succeed; hitting a plateau, striving and obtaining super success – all of the things that most of us want to do. This also is why and where we stop.
Let me get on with it by first saying and introducing a football player, Aaron Curry. He was a tremendous athlete, one of the top prospects as linebacker for a long, long time. As an example, linebackers in general are not taken early on in the draft; there’s just so many of them. I think there’s only been four times, that somebody has been drafted as a linebacker in the top 10. He was taken number four overall. Let’s look at a little bit of history. It has nothing to do with football, except for the story which is really tremendous. His goal was to get an NFL contract and take care of his family. He defined well his major life goal. (click here about setting goals)
His Start – Overcoming Adversity
Here was somebody, started out, he grew up extremely poor. In order to reach the NFL, he would need to overcome adversity. His family basically didn’t even have quite enough to feed themselves. He got his breakfast and lunch at school, he was very underweight, etc. but he trained hard and he played football very hard. But he was very underweight. What happened was East Carolina was the only school looking at him. At the last minute, Wake Forest came in, liked him. Wake Forest came in, offered him a scholarship, and he was able to go. At Wake Forest he was able to gain the weight that he never had before. Why? Because of the training and the meal programs that they had.
Finally he was able to eat like a football player in training. He was able to put on the pounds, gain the weight, etc. What drove him so hard to do all of this? That dream of being able to get an NFL contract and of supporting his family, of overcoming adversity for his entire family. He had a “why” that was extremely strong and extremely driven. If you think back to one of the earlier episodes, that’s developing that overarching “why,” but you need more than that. How do you ensure goal success (this episode explains how to build your own drive to succeed)? He knew that if he did not succeed, he and his family would end up back in that situation. That image, that motivation is what kept on driving him to get into that contract where he’d be able to absorb and bring home the money to support his family.
Reaching His Big Goal
With the goals and with that drive, he exceeded and excelled. He was well-regarded across the nation, and was drafted number four by the Seattle Seahawks. That was in 2009. By 2013, he dropped out of football, he couldn’t succeed in the NFL. What happened? He got his great, large contract. He got the contract that took care of his family. His goals were reached, so he really did change the financial position of his family. They were now in a much different situation and well-situated with a huge contract. He was also far from home. Seattle from Carolina is a huge difference.
Remember I’ve talked before about hitting a plateau? What has happened, and what really is a plateau? Did that mean when he hit the NFL he reached his limit and was beyond his ability? No, not at all. What happened was he had realized his goals, he slowed down. He satisfied his goals that had driven him so far. The biggest enemy of success is success and losing motivation. The NFL, which changes the dynamics tremendously has more demands and nobody can just step in and do well. You may be a rookie, you may be slotted to be a superstar because of potential, but you have to make improvements and go beyond your past. You have to make a breakthrough to continue within the NFL. He didn’t get that breakthrough. He turned around and hit that plateau. Self-admittedly, the first couple of years he didn’t even put in the effort off season that he had done many times before. He didn’t have that drive; he had lost it. What happened? That image, that dream, etc. of surviving and helping his family – that was no longer an issue. His goal was already complete. What he needed was a completely new goal beyond hitting the NFL contract. He needed something that would drive him to exceed and excel that particular goal. That would be a true breakthrough success. There are many players that get a big contract after their rookie contract and no longer do well. Why? For most it is probably the loss of motivation for that new big contract.
Using Lessons Learned, The Transition
Interestingly, he was able to shift his career into coaching. He has redefined it and it has a very good story in the end. He realized what he must do, he reassessed his past, got an opportunity, and moved into coaching. Interestingly, while coaching and teaching other people, including his current protégé that’s about to enter the draft, he’s emphasizing to them the amount of desire that has to be within that drive to success. He talks about that there’s some selfishness to attaining greatness.
When you think of selfishness and greatness and hear that, it sounds funny. It also comes basically in another form. If you saw and remember the Rocky movie, Rocky III where the wife is out there on the beach and she goes up to Rocky because he just has given up, and she said: “You have to want it. What are you afraid of?” He was afraid of, what? Losing? There was nothing to lose, but he was afraid of hurting his family or losing other things. He didn’t have that drive. She turned around and talked to him about that same idea of that selfishness that you have to have. She said: “It’s not important for you to want it for your wife, or your kids, or anybody else. You have to want it for yourself.” You have to develop that desire and that drive to attain greatness yourself.
I believe that that’s what Curry was referring to when he said: “The selfishness to attain greatness.” He also then said: “You have to be willing to be alone to be at the top.”
The Comfort Zone of Others
What is this, again? To be at the top, what happens? You’re separating yourself from others – outside the comfort zone, both yours and theirs. Again, each place you’re going outside the comfort zone (click here for deeper explanation) and have to realize that if you’re going to attain true greatness, there’s not going to be a collection of people that you’re working with. You have to have that selfishness to do it on your own, to be out there on your own, and putting in that extra effort to attain that level of success.
Today Aaron Curry is passing on that same kind of desire, drive, and to help other people become the best that they can be and better adjusted in society today. Interesting story. What do I admire particularly about Aaron Curry? He is the exception to so many superstar athletes that go and get these big contracts. They lose it all, and end up broke and they have nothing. He turned around and took lessons he learned. He helped himself, his family, and is carrying that help to others with an entirely new career, coaching. What an ideal situation for him to be doing to help other athletes learn better.
While I normally don’t bother to talk about something that I read and something I went into detail and studied a little about somebody. This particular example of Aaron Curry's life of overcoming adversity is just so good that it explains things in at least five other episodes that I’ve tried to explain. I believe all are really crucial to anybody’s success. Good luck. Weave into some of those other episodes if you’ve lost or forgotten some of that material. I think you’ll really like it.