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The Importance of Leaving It All on the Field

In his concession speech Tuesday night Mitt Romney said that he and Paul Ryan “left everything on the field” during the recent presidential campaign.

And from what I can tell, they did.  They even broke tradition by campaigning on election day.

While I voted for President Obama, I was impressed by Governor Romney’s leaving it on the field comment.  It reminded me of the career advice in Tweet 100 in my book Success Tweets: 140 Bits of Common Sense Career Success Advice, All in 140 Characters or Less.  “Care about what you do.  If you care a little, you’ll be an OK performer.  If you care a lot, you’ll become an outstanding performer.”

Here’s a story about caring about what you do…

On Sunday, February 1 2009, the Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl.  On Monday, February 2 2009, Mike Tomlin, their coach, noted that because the Steelers were in the Super Bowl, he was “a month behind getting ready for the 2009 season.”

Some may say, “Chill, Mike, savor what you’ve just accomplished.”  However, Mike Tomlin knows that outstanding performers don’t rest on their laurels.  They care about what they do, and they care about their life and career success.  High performers always set higher goals and look towards greater achievements.  The Optimist Creed urges us to “Press on to the greater achievements of the future.”

That’s what Mike Tomlin was doing the day after he won the Super Bowl in 2009, and that’s what all outstanding performers do.

They set high goals and meet them.  Then they set higher goals and meet them too.

When you care you do your very best.  To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books.  It’s a story about doing the best you can – even against incredible odds.  There is a passage in chapter 11 that has always stuck with me.  It’s spoken by Atticus Finch, played by Gregory Peck in the film.  He’s speaking to Scout, his daughter…

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand.  It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.  You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”

It takes courage to care. Because when you care, you put yourself out there.  You do your best.  And doing your best can be a scary thing.  When you care, when you consciously do your best and fail, it is heartbreaking.  One of Mitt Romney’s aides described him as being “shellschocked” after the elenection.

But at least he had the satisfaction of knowing he did his very best.

I remember when I applied to graduate school at Harvard.  I decided that I was going to demonstrate to myself how much I cared by writing the very best application I could.  I wasn’t going to let myself off the hook if I didn’t get accepted by saying, “I could have written a better application, but I just didn’t spend the time I should have.”

When I put my application in the mailbox – we still did quaint things like that back in the old days – I was proud of what I had written.  I knew it was the very best I could do.  I was also frightened because I knew that my best might not be good enough.  After all, both of my other degrees were from state schools.  Who was I to think that those kind of credentials would get me accepted at Harvard? I cared about the quality of my application, so I did the very best I could.

The story in this case has a happy ending.  I was accepted and got my degree.  Even if I had not been accepted, I would have been proud of myself because I cared enough to write the best application I could, and I dared enough to admit it to myself.

The common sense career success point here is simple.  Successful people are proud of what they do.  They care.  As Mitt Romney says, they leave it on the field.  They follow the career advice in Success Tweet 100.  “Care about what you do.  If you care a little, you’ll be an OK performer.  If you care a lot, you’ll become an outstanding performer.”

Does your work show that you care?  Or does it reflect an “it’s good enough” attitude?  Take it from a career success coach, if you want to create the life and career success of which you are capable, make sure that how much you care shows through in every single piece of work you do.

If you liked this little bit of life and career success advice, you might want to check out a webinar I did recently.  You can listen to the replay for free by going here.


Bud Bilanich is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.