Why Going 100% Never Works...

hard work pressing self awareness Sep 12, 2023


Why Going 100% Never Works...

When I met Amin, he was the human equivalent of an old-school pressure cooker. You knew either the job was going to get done—or he was going to explode.

He started as a video intern with the Phoenix Suns, but had aspirations of becoming an NBA GM. Working your way to the top of the NBA is often celebrated—but very, very rarely actually happens. The dream attracts the fiercest competition, the hardest workers, and the biggest schemers. Out of all of them, I'd have bet on Amin to pull out the win through sheer willpower. He put everything he had into it—and then some. He had the hunger to be influential, to be recognized for his talents and observations in the sport. This dude pressed.

And then . . . everyone on staff was let go. All Amin's time, effort, energy, momentum—gone.

He didn’t even finish brushing himself off before he started searching for the next job, the next team, the next opportunity to start working his way up once again. The only “break” he took from his singular focus was a favor for a friend, who’d asked him to write a sample piece for ESPN.com.

That throwaway article was so well-received that Amin was offered a ten-article freelance gig; those ten articles were so well-received that, in 2013, ESPN hired him on full time. He quickly shot up the ranks to become one of the most loved, hated, and undeniably magnetic voices at the most important sports network in the world.

Today, Amin Elhassan is one of the most well-known faces on television. When we go out for lunch, he wears hats and sunglasses and uses a (very comic book-ish) alias to stay under the radar—a far cry from the video intern who was always on a full court press.

He’s made it to the top of a field with stiffer competition than any NBA GM position. In Amin’s own words, “If you look at the media landscape, almost all the analysts who have come from the league side are former players or other very big-name people. Rarely, if ever, do you see the nuts-and-bolts worker bees that populate most NBA front offices.”

Amin has made it—not as a GM, but as someone even more influential and recognized in the NBA.

Pressing. Every high-achiever does it, and it drives us nuts. Yeah, determination gets us farther than most people ever dare to dream—but pressing never gets us that full 100%.

I was determined to be great every time I stepped on the basketball court; I would do anything to make it happen. But when something went off course (which happens in every game—just like any other aspect of life), I’d get flustered and press harder and harder, just to watch the ‘great’ game slip away.

Think about it—the person you tried to woo by waiting on their every need, answering the phone on the first ring. The boss for whom you completely restructured your workflow. The audience you tried to impress by radically changing your style. The toy you needed to have. The battle you had to win. Even the times you emerged victorious, when you’ve slipped from determined to pressed, there’s something hollow in the triumph, right? Those Pyrrhic victories, when you’ve sacrificed so much to win, you ultimately still lose.

When we’re pressed, we’ve inevitably lost sight of what we actually need. We’ve tunneled in too far on the bigger picture and confused it with a highly specific result. With those blinders on, everything short of that result is failure. We can no longer see that what we need is to make a difference in our field—we’re too pressed on getting that job. We can no longer see that we need healthy, loving relationships—we’re too pressed on that person. Fear of failing to achieve that specific result blinds us to different, better results within our grasp.

Recognize that when you've put all your determination and strength pressing something that just won’t budge, all that power is going somewhere. You're still inevitably creating movement in the area. If you just turn your head slightly, an even more incredible result is likely staring you straight in the face.

Take off the blinders and see the bigger victory that’s already yours.


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