I’ll Do It!

They say you gotta stay hungry
Hey baby I’m just about starving tonight
Bruce Springsteen, “Dancing In The Dark

1. A few months ago a real estate broker and friend of mine asked me to make business cards for her newest Realtor. It was a fairly simple job, because the company layouts were already in the computer; all I had to do was add name and number. A couple of days later I called the new Realtor to tell her that the business cards were ready. When she arrived, she mentioned that even though she had a great job as a full-time nurse, she was going to try her hand at real estate.
I had largely forgotten about that job, until I bumped into my broker friend just recently. I asked her how the new Realtor was doing. “Not well,” she said: she had obtained only one listing, and had made no effort to sell it.

2. My ride-on lawn mower broke down. I needed someone to fix it, and through a referral found a handyman. I was expecting someone in work boots and blue jeans, but instead opened the door to a clean-cut fellow in khakis and a polo shirt. He introduced himself as an engineer, specializing in electronic repair. I showed him what the problem was —something purely mechanical— thinking that he would refuse the job or charge a prohibitive price. But much to my surprise he enthusiastically said, “I’ll do it!” A bit startled I asked him why, and without elaborating he explained that, due to his circumstances, he needed any additional income he could find. The job was not bigger than a hundred dollars, yet he hauled the mower to his house, repaired it, and brought it back home at no extra charge.
3. This contrast in attitudes between the Realtor and the handyman got me thinking in very favorable terms about hunger. Why would the Realtor not make an effort to sell a house that could yield her a few thousand dollars, while the handyman jumped at a small job with a small yield? The difference, of course, is that the handyman was hungry!

While complacency allows us to stay where we are, hunger –for the next customer, the next sale, the next achievement– makes us say “I’ll do it!”It is the fuel that propels us forward to actually go out and do something. It crystallizes what is needed, and makes us want it badly enough to go and get it. Even when things are going our way, it is always healthy to keep a level of discomfort, a craving for the next goal.

Sometimes I feel frustrated when one of my fitness, professional or financial objectives has not been met. But that is a good thing, because as long as the hunger is there, I’ll keep on striving.