The Missing Element Between Mediocrity and Success

Hungry dogs run faster. What does this mean for achieving our full potential?

Hungry dogs run faster.  What does this mean for achieving our full potential?

The Missing Element Between Mediocrity and Success

Jason Kelce of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles famously said, “Hungry dogs run faster.” 

He meant that the team was starved to win, that they were being doubted, and that they won because they wanted it more than their competition.

Is it true that if you hunger for something you are more likely to attain it?

The Science Behind Hunger

The science behind hunger is undeniable.  We have all had hunger pangs: the cramping in our stomachs when we haven’t had enough to eat.  Our biology takes over.  Hormones are released; the urge becomes overwhelming and we prioritize eating above all else.

The craving to eat propels you to stop what you are doing in order to fill your stomach.  Your physical activity increases.  You wander into the kitchen to scan the pantry and the refrigerator.    You take action.

Humans aren’t alone.  According to Wikipedia, spiders and rats do the same thing.

“Hunger appears to increase activity and movement in many animals — for example, an experiment on spiders showed increased activity and predation in starved spiders, resulting in larger weight gain.  This pattern is seen in many animals…it even occurs in rats…increased activity on hamster wheels occurred when rats were deprived…of food.”

When you are hungry, it’s easy to become testy; to have a short fuse.

A New Word in the Dictionary

Short-temperedness related to hunger has a new word in the dictionary: hangry. 

“It is only in the 21st century that the word hangry, a blend of hungry and angry used colloquially to mean ‘bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger,’ has entered common use,” Katherine Connor Martin, Oxford University Press’ head of U.S. Dictionaries, said in a press release.


Physiologically, when hungry we take action.

Tony Robbins on the Psychology of Hunger

Let’s turn our attention to psychology.  Does hunger for something other than food also drive us to action as Kelce suggests?

Tony Robbins, motivational (don’t call him motivational) speaker and coach, certainly agrees.  He suggests that hunger is more important than motivation.

Robbins was asked what he believed to be the single most significant gap standing between mediocrity and greatness.  He said, “I think the most common thing is hunger.  If you look at the people who are most successful on the face of the earth, they don’t just have hunger for a while. They have hunger for a lifetime.”

My Lack of Hunger

For the longest time I felt like I had no real hunger in my professional life.  Maybe that’s why I look back on the first 25 years of my career and think of it as an “average, successful life” but not an extraordinary life.

I define an average, successful life as a life where you do all the traditional things: stay out of trouble, go to college, get a normal job, and raise a family.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  After all, I love my family more than anything in the world.

But professionally speaking, I fell into a lucrative career and never felt real hunger.   I surmise that is why I toiled in my own definition of mediocrity: because I just wasn’t hungry enough.

If you are not willing to risk the usual you will have to settle for the ordinary.  – Jim Rohn

My Story of Getting Hungry

Lucky for me, everything changed in late 2014, when I was told I had 90 days left to live.  (Yes, you read that correctly – being told I had 90 days to live turned out to be the best gift I could have been given.)

It was at that moment that I started to get real hungry.   I didn’t want to die with the feeling of not having fulfilled my potential.

After beating the disease, did I ever get hungry, ravenously hungry: to build on my foundational knowledge of human potential including courage, reinvention, habits, productivity, overcoming adversity and striving for personal growth.

My Path from Mediocrity to Fulfillment

I started to eat, sleep and breathe these topics.  I started (and still do) to consume books, podcasts, courses and articles.  With my curiosity piqued, I started coaching at a whole new level.  I started giving speeches on overcoming adversity, first informally, then formally.  I started writing and podcasting.  Workbooks, ebooks and virtual training classes will be launched soon (join my mailing list for great content and to be notified of new resources).

Now I know what Kelce means about hungry dogs running faster and I also understand what Robbins means about hunger being the differentiator between mediocrity and greatness.

That hunger is within you.  It’s within all of us.

What Is Your Hunger?

How about you?  What is it that you are hungry for?

Once you find it, you will run like you have never run before and I bet you will also become a champion… just like Jason Kelce.

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