What’s My Tennis Ball?
This question is derived from a commencement speech given at MIT last year by Drew Houston, founder of the successful information storage service Dropbox.
It's a more interesting way of asking yourself, What do I really care about? Or, What am I meant to do? As Houston explained in his speech, “The most successful people are obsessed with solving an important problem, something that matters to them. They remind me of a dog chasing a tennis ball.” To increase your own chances of happiness and success, Houston said, you must “find your tennis ball—the thing that pulls you.”
Where should you look for that thing that pulls you? Pay attention to your own behavior and to the things you find yourself doing without thinking.
“When you’re in a bookstore,” says author Carol Adrienne, “what section are you drawn to?” Another suggestion is to think about what you loved doing in younger days. “The things we loved as a child are probably still the things we love,” says Eric Maisel, a psychotherapist and author. He suggests drawing up a list of favorite activities and interests from childhood to “see what still resonates with you today.”
Once you’ve figured out what pulls you, it’s time for another question: How might I find a way to incorporate this interest or activity—this tennis ball—into my everyday life?
- Warren Berger