11/4/21: Is it possible to care too much?

Sent 11/4/21


This week's Think Better Newsletter is about whether it's possible to care too much

The Idea

In my talk with Orange Lutheran high school, I spoke about using the Momentum Model to strategically find ways to boost momentum. In the Q&A portion, the students asked me a bunch of interesting, thought provoking questions. One of those questions was, "Is it possible to care too much?"

Now, for context, my personal problem was not caring enough. It doesn't feel great to write it so bluntly, but that's the truth. I was never consumed with the sport, I never loved doing the non-running work, and I never had that one goal that I was simply going to do anything to achieve.

My best performances came after periods of sustained "caring." My lack of success can best be summed up as "unsustained caring."

Make the Leap aims to help athletes not just care more, but care about the right things. For 99% of young runners, I think this is the problem.

So is it possible to care too much? The simple answer is yes, but the more nuanced answer is: only if you start substituting your results in running (or whatever you care about) for your self-worth as a person. 

Take Meb. He dedicated his life to achieving his potential. He paid attention to the tiniest of details. He obviously cared deeply about his performances.

And yet, his performances never defined him. That is the fine line that anyone who cares a lot has to navigate. It's critical to care as much as anyone else. It's also critical not to cross that fine line into caring as self-definition.

It's not caring that is the problem, it's the association of success or failure with your value.

The System

Today's system isn't a way to care more or measure caring. It's actually a strategy for thinking through difficult questions. When something doesn't have an easy answer, find and consider the most extreme cases.

In my case, I immediately went to Meb. Meb is an outlier in terms of his longevity, his success, and his approach to the sport. It wouldn't have been possible for Meb to live the life he lived if he didn't care immensely. 

By considering what made his situation work, and why he didn't care "too much," I was able to frame the question in a way that made sense.

Try it next time you're trying to make a tough decision or think through a nuanced situation. It'll help you get to a productive answer.

The Question

Are there areas of your life where you "care too much"?


Go Be More,

Bryan Green
Author of Make the Leap: Think Better, Train Better, Run Faster and the companion Think Better Workbook
Co-host of the Go Be More Podcast
Co-host of the Fueling the Pursuit Podcast

"Some people's weakness is that they care too much; it is also their strength."
- Brigitte Nicole



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