Michael’s Rules: No. 14

I’ve been really lucky to have the love and support of a lot of wonderful people throughout my life. Along the way, they’ve given me some pretty great advice which I now consider my own personal rules for living—words of wisdom that have helped me navigate my career and my life and that I would like to pass along to you, too.

I read recently that the average child will ask forty thousand questions between the ages of two and five. But an interesting thing starts to happen once a kid enters preschool: the number of questions she or he asks starts to decrease. What scientists found is that it’s not that kids are less curious, it’s that they grow more uncomfortable with their curiosity in a school environment. But curiosity, the desire and ability to ask questions, is a muscle that we can’t afford to let atrophy if we want to live our best lives.

When I look back, I can see that even when I was in the midst of some of my biggest successes, I was still asking questions, still looking for opportunities to grow. My seventh year in the NFL was a great one: I went to the Pro Bowl that year, and we played the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night. I got two sacks that game. I was up to 10 sacks for the season, which was great. I was kicking butt that season, but still I didn’t feel that I’d reached my maximum, and I wasn’t sure how to tap into whatever else I had to give. Until I was staying with the team in Tucson, at the University of Arizona, and met a therapist who specialized in meditation and creative visualization. He helped me tap into what I call “the super zone”—and taught me the importance of reaffirming the depth of potential in yourself. 

You can read more about my story in my book, Wake Up Happy.