What if I told you that the key to living a successful life was just to be good?
Well that is exactly the advice that John Herdman, the former coach to Canada’s Olympic women’s soccer team, gave a room full of my colleagues at our annual employee conference at the beginning of February. It was from this advice that Herdman was able to revive the Canadian women’s soccer team from dead last at the 2011 World Cup in Germany to two back to back bronze medals.
“Just be good and the universe gives you stuff”, Herdman said.
So if it’s that simple, why don’t more people achieve greatness?
Who are you when no one is looking?
“How good are you?”, Herdman asked the room. “Are you a good mum, a good dad, a good sister or brother?”. The reason “being good” isn’t so simple is that we choose specific times to be good and turn it on an off like a light switch when we don’t feel like it serves us. What is the use in “being good” at work and then turning it off when you go home so you’re a checked out mom, dad or partner?
“If you want to reach greatness”, Herdman challenged, “you have to commit to living a life of consistent goodness” in all realms of your life, every day, and yes, even when nobody is looking.
So how do you do that?
Find your “OH SHIT” moments
People who achieve greatness don’t get there by playing it safe. The “OH SHIT” moments are about choosing risk and challenges that scare you. They are about choosing opportunities where there is a risk of failure – because that, Herdman argues, “is where the magic happens”.
You need to learn to push yourself into these “OH SHIT” moments because your survival instincts will always try to bring you back to where you are safe – in a life of mediocrity. However, pushing yourself to a life of abnormality is easier when you find your WHY.
Find your True North
As Canadians, we are used to the concept of True North – we sing about it every time we sing our national anthem. For Herdman, finding your True North is about defining your vision and your reason why. He says that “once that True North burns within you, it thrusts you over that line and that’s where you need to play to achieve success.
Live Above the Line
What does it mean to “live above the line”? This means making the commitment to yourself to live all aspects of your life at 80% or higher, every day.
But what does this actually mean?
Living a life “below the line” means playing the blame game, making excuses, and denying that you have any control over your circumstances. Essentially, you have made your BED and now all that’s left to do is lie in it.
On the other hand, living a life “above the line” requires taking ownership, being accountable and taking responsibility for your life. In other words, it requires taking the OAR to navigate your life in the direction you want to go in.
So if you’re ready to live a successful life, just be good. Find your “Oh Shit” moments, find your True North and commit to Living Above the Line every day!