Trevor Lawrence has the “Slight Edge” Mindset
I was stunned to see the recent uproar on social media regarding comments made by the number one NFL draft pick, Trevor Lawrence, who is now headed to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Lawrence is quoted saying, "I don't need football to make me feel worthy." He went on to say, "It's not like I need this for my life to be OK. I want to do it because I want to be the best I can be."
Is it possible to be the best you can be while loving your job? Seems like a silly question. So why was there such an uproar? Isn't that the mindset most workers wish they had about their jobs as it relates to living a fulfilling career and life? I have worked with hundreds of thousands of people and many organizations for over twenty years. After every speech someone inevitably tells me, "TJ, I'm not happy. My job drains me," and then, "One day I'll do what I love."
Is Lawrence expected to hate his job and grind through to feel accomplished as if there were innate virtue in that? Effective leaders and coaches don't expect you to have disdain for your job as though that indicates your utmost commitment to the company. That would be foolish. Great leaders should spend most of their time encouraging each employee; participant; or in this case, athlete, to love their job.
People who maximize the slight edge aren't chasing the dollar or the fame as much as they are chasing the thing that gives them satisfaction and meaning. This involves knowing your talents, aptitudes, and values and aligning your daily activities and focus to draw upon them.
Unfortunately, some believe you have to have a chip on your shoulder to perform at a high level. Although there is a place for that kind of motivation, it is often short-lived. The motivation derived from a place of "have to" usually dissipates over time and often creates reluctant compliance. On the other hand, the attitude of "want to" provides better results and unending drive, much like the Energizer Bunny, because your heart is involved. At twenty-one years old, Lawrence has the optimal philosophy that will lead to a long, happy, and successful career, from what I can tell.
Just because someone loves their career doesn't mean they have lost their competitive edge. Lawrence's follow-up message in response to the uproar indicated his level of self-confidence and self-assurance. He wrote on Twitter, "I have a lot of confidence in my work ethic, I love to grind and to chase my goals. You can ask anyone who has been in my life. That being said, I am secure in who I am and what I believe. I don't need football to make me feel worthy as a person. I purely love the game and everything that comes with it. The work, the team, the ups and downs. I am a firm believer in the fact that there is a plan for my life, and I'm called to be the best I can be at whatever I am doing."
Here's something to consider when it comes to happiness and confidence. Bob Moawad and I wrote in our book, The Secret of the Slight Edge, "If you are what you do, then when you don't you aren't." Think about that. If your performance level or career is the sole determinant of your happiness, you may experience life as an emotional roller coaster. Maxwell Maltz, author of the book Psycho-Cybernetics, often taught, "If you fail, that doesn't make YOU a failure. If you make a mistake, that does not make YOU a mistake," referencing the whole of you, or totality of your existence. In other words, separate what you do from who you are innately. Keep failures and mistakes specific and localized rather than allowing the mistake to bleed into every area of life.
Here's the best thing you can do if you want to live your dream life, which Lawrence expressed recently when he spoke at a Greenville County school: "One thing I've learned is not to chase money or success or whatever, but do what you love. A lot of people will try to convince you that success is making a lot of money." Trevor went on to say, "It might line up with your dream and work out great, but some of the happiest people I know aren't the richest people I know. So I think just chasing happiness is the biggest thing."
Lawrence is bound to make a lot of money in the coming years. I submit to you without even knowing Lawrence personally that the "10,000 hours" (talked about in Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outlier) devoted to years of practice and a love for the game has brought Lawrence to THIS point in his football career. The same is true for you. If you align with the job that draws upon your talents, aptitudes, and values, you are bound to be successful and find more happiness in your career. Besides, George Burns once stated, "I'd rather fail at what I love than succeed at what I hate."
Keep this in mind. Stephen Covey, author of the classic performance book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, once said, "Your life is a mission, not a career." GO, TREVOR LAWRENCE! We will be cheering you on wherever you go! When you're ready to come on the Unleash Your Greatness Within podcast, let me know.