Purpose + Passion = Mario Andretti

To me, Mario Andretti is more than a racing legend… he’s also a friend. I met Mario several years ago when we worked together on his book, “Andretti.” You don’t need to spend much time with Mario before you realize he’s a quality person… and someone who truly understands the power of purpose and passion.

One night over a glass of wine (or two), I asked, “Mario, before or during a race, do you ever think about the possibility of being seriously injured… or even dying?”

It was later explained to me that asking a professional race car driver such a question was inappropriate at best. Perhaps so, but Mario didn’t seem to mind. “I try not to think about it, Michael,” he responded.

I took another sip. “I understand, but isn’t it hard not to think about it at times?”

Then he looked at me and said in a most humble and sincere way, “I don’t fear death; I respect it… and I focus on winning.”

His answer triggered an “aha” moment. We all have obstacles in our lives and jobs… death and injury just happened to be a couple that Mario faced on a regular basis. You don’t jump into a swimming pool and focus on drowning… even though you know it’s possible. Mario focuses on winning… succeeding… period.

Then I asked him when he knew it was time to retire. After reflecting for a moment he responded, “That’s a much harder question. You never really know the perfect time, but it has less to do with your age and ability than many people believe… it has more to do with your purpose and passion.”

His answer resonated throughout my brain. It was Mario’s last racing season… and his words transcended my question. When purpose and passion are replaced with too much thinking and planning, we are no longer competing. Winners are driven by purpose and passion. You can’t pre-plan and over-think each turn and move you make… you need to follow your intuition and let purpose and passion drive you.

What’s driving you? If you’re faltering, check your purpose and passion and make some corrections. When these elements are in place, obstacles disappear and your goals are always within reach.


5 Responses to “Purpose + Passion = Mario Andretti”

  1. Mike O'Mary on January 6th, 2010 2:25 am

    Thanks for sharing this, Mike. In those short exchanges with Mario Andretti, you captured a lot of what he’s all about.

  2. Michael on January 6th, 2010 2:49 am

    Thank you, Mike. Mario is an exceptional person on many levels.

  3. Butch Lamoreux on January 6th, 2010 11:51 pm

    Mike, I have been working with race drivers now for 23 yrs, everything that you wrote is true. You have such a great way with words that you really inspire & get people energized and thinking. Thank you for being you and sharing your experieces, please keep do so. Butch

  4. george kubricht on January 16th, 2010 6:22 pm

    I am speaking for myself… In the race that we are all in, I look at life as winning and death as winning… we all need to have a purpose and a passion while we are on this journey and also for our next one.

  5. Brenda Knighton-Slatter on January 22nd, 2010 11:19 pm

    Thank you so much for this blog. I needed inspiration to get me started this year. I have been doing triathlons for the past 10 years. This year marks a milestone for me, in that I will be turning 50 years old in November and on my 50th birthday I will be doing my 50th triathlon which will be my 5th Ironman event. This article made me think…because I felt that I have lost that purpose and passion that I once had! In reflecting on your message above and then taking time for myself to reflect, I redefined my purpose and passion. Since doing that, I have found that my workouts have been much more effective! When the going gets tough i.e. a workout gets tough…in the pool or my bike instructor has me do another hard climbing set, I remind myself about my purpose and passion! Thank you Mike!

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