I like Kevin Costner. I know this doesn’t make me a popular man sometimes but he happens to have made a couple of my favorite movies, including 2/3 of my favorite sports movies of all time. But my “love affair” with Costner began with Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. I grew up as a big Bryan Adams fan (ps if you put together all of the references in my posts you can calculate my age TO THE MINUTE) and so I LOVED the soundtrack and the score because, come on, it’s Michael Kamen. It is a story I’ve always loved, one of the morality tales about good, evil and the very thin line in between. But there’s something I think about all the time (aside from Alan Rickman threatening to eat someone’s heart out with a spoon) and that is Kevin Costner blowing in my ear as I do something important.
Now before you start sending me screenshots to tell me that he isn’t actually the one who does that, just like Vader never says, “Luke, I am your father,” I KNOW. But I like to combine the two scenes together. You see, for me it’s not about whether or not you can do something, it’s whether or not you can do something when it matters. Everyone can do GREAT work. For example, I once wrote a novel in 6 months. But those were circumstances that aligned perfectly to allow me to accomplish that. I think a lot of us think we’ve succeeded because we’ve done something great but fail to realize that we could have never accomplished that with Kevin Costner blowing in our ear.
Last week was not my best work. My wife was violently ill for three days, my son for two. My daughter was a two year old for the entire week and the NHL playoffs were on with my second favorite team playing. I accomplished, in that week, NOTHING of value. SURE, I finished a couple of courses (that I listened to on double speed while I watched hockey) and a couple other small things got done but I didn’t really DO them…they just GOT DONE. Do you know the difference?
Sometimes things just get done. You’ll even remark to people that you’re not sure how it happened, it just happened. That’s great. Sometimes you need that but real work is when it doesn’t just fall into place. You have to hustle and work harder than ever. And sometimes you have to do that while your two year old is yelling at you to make pasta and your four year old is apologizing for almost murdering that little one that keeps yelling for pasta. THAT is Kevin Costner blowing in your ear. Can you get it done when all that is happening? If you can’t, that’s ok. It happens. Sometimes things are not going to fall into place. But we need to start patting ourselves on the back for the work we do in a bubble. The world is not a bubble. In the real world, Kevin Costner isn’t blowing in your ear, clients are yelling at you and your boss is furious.
Practice working in environments that aren’t perfection. Take your earphones out for a bit and work with noise and with distraction because there will be times when you will HAVE to get work done even when the walls are coming down around you. That’s the real test.