My first job after graduation from Auburn University was with a division of General Motors; I worked there for around four years and really enjoyed the two different positions I held. There were some interesting people in the engineering office, and I met a lot of people working “on the floor” of the manufacturing facility. One guy had a plaque on his desk that simply said “Ya Gotta’ Wanna’”.

That little plaque has remained in my mind for the almost 40 years since I worked there. I can remember faces of people but only a few names; I can remember vaguely what the manufacturing floor looked like and how it smelled; I can even remember some of the projects on which I worked. Many of the memories of that first job have faded and while I still have them, they are fuzzy and frayed around the edges. But I remember vividly “Ya Gotta’ Wanna’”.

I realize we all must do things that we don’t necessarily want to do, but we do them because we know there is some benefit associated with the task. I normally don’t want to go to the doctor for any reason, but I do (seems like more frequently than ever) because I know there are potentially negative consequences for not going. It is also true that prior to accomplishing anything that we’ve dreamed about, “Ya Gotta’ Wanna’” so badly that it becomes a top priority and you are willing to do the work to make it happen.

I remember renowned leadership author and speaker John Maxwell telling a story about a young man who approached him at a break in one of his seminars. The young man said “I want to do what you do.” He said he thought he could lead leadership seminars teaching people how to be great leaders. Maxwell, a former pastor and leader of companies, said he was a little taken aback. Finally, he asked the young man, “Are you willing to do what I did so you can do what I do?” In other words are you willing to experience the lessons learned, the failures and the successes to get to the point Maxwell was?

The first step in accomplishing anything worthwhile is “Ya Gotta‘ Wanna’” and I think that’s why this little plaque has remained firmly entrenched in my mind for forty years.

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