On extremity in success

My brother, Cameron Dodds.

What would it take for you to quit your job this moment and pursue something else?

That question stared me down this morning as I was picking up some hot chocolate for the Toy Guy and a coffee for myself.

I have somewhat of a morning ‘regular’ relationship with one of the baristas at a java shop down the street. We talk about lots of things – our common ground, though, lies in our mutual love of extreme sports (snowboarding in particular). This morning he asked me, “Are you going to make it out to ride this season?” I told him that I would probably get out a few times and that my friend had invited me on a trip to Colorado at the end of the month, but unfortunately I couldn’t go.

“Are you serious? I’d quit my job to go out there for a week.”

He noticed my lack of words and strange expression, and responded by saying: “I’ve done it before.”

Really? You’re not joking? You’ve quit a job to go on a snowboarding trip?

“Yup. My local mountain was calling for 28 inches of snow and a foot more the next day. I quit my job after I read the weather reports and went up there for three days. It was incredible.”

I was shocked, and to be honest, my initial reaction was to peg him as irrational and impulsive. “That’s a little extreme…would it be wise to hire someone with that track record?…doesn’t he know how valuable jobs are these days?” But I couldn’t stop thinking about his passion. It’s just so uncommon to meet someone who feels so strongly about something that they are ready to instantly stop everything else to do it. I also couldn’t stop thinking about that attitude as a necessary component to success – if you really wanted to become a pro snowboarder you might just have to be willing to drop everything else in your life to pursue what’s most important. And then I thought, “If this guy doesn’t become a pro snowboarder and that passion gets directed at something else, people in that industry better watch out.” Maybe it would be wise to hire someone like him.

Extreme can be very good. Passion requires extreme. And extreme can separate you from everyone else.  But extreme is uncomfortable and risky, and that’s why so many people (and companies) stick with the status quo. However irrational or extreme my friend is, my guess is that because of those things  he’ll end up on the podium at the X-Games or running some wildly successful business.

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