Be hungry! (No, I am not talking about food.)
My name is Pellegrino. “Pellegrino” is a very unusual name, even for Italians. It means “pilgrim”. However, it is also a very suitable name for me because for the past 27 years I have travelled around the world and interacted with countless different cultures, nationalities and people-types. I use this experience to help me in my work.
I am a great believer of DEFINING MOMENTS … small events that change the course of one’s life.
One of my earliest defining moments was at the age of 9 when I picked up my mother´s knitting needles and pretended to be a drummer in a rock band. I remember playing along to songs like Ballroom Blitz by The Sweet (check out their song http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Playing drums brought me to Norway in July 1993 to play at the Quart Festival. Another defining moment. I remember standing on stage in my shorts and T-shirt in the 12-degree “summer” rain, looking down at a small and rather lukewarm crowd. Perhaps a few of them were even mumbling to themselves that famous Norwegian expression “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”. I remember thinking that this did not feel like a summer festival at all, and wanted to go back to my hotel room.
What I did not know was that in this crowd was a young and very beautiful woman. She felt sorry for me playing in my shorts in the cold rain, so she lent me her very traditional woolen Norwegian jumper. The jumper looked very uncool on an Italian-British rock star but I wasn’t complaining. The woman´s name was Trine, and she is the reason that I live in Norway today.
Frankly, moving to Norway has been hard. I remember the first apartment we lived in, a 1-bedroom 35-square-meter first-floor flat in Kristiansand. The bathroom was so small that we could sit on the toilet and take a shower at the same time. It was a powerful and symbolic reminder that my pop-star life was over and a new much more ordinary and down-to-earth life had begun.
Adapting to the Norwegian way of living has been difficult in many ways. There have been times when I have wanted to move back to my family and friends. In these challenging times I often think of my father, and everything that he had to sacrifice for his family.
My father decided he had to leave his poverty-stricken home in Avellino in the south of Italy and look for something better. My father had no education (he couldn’t read or write), no money, no skills, no training, but he was HUNGRY; hungry for food, hungry for work, and ultimately hungry for some meaning in his life.
My father taught me that hunger is a strong motivator. In Norway, I did not need to worry much about being hungry for food or work, but I did feel insatiable hunger for the 4 Basic Human Needs:
1) Certainty: We need anchoring in life, predictability, understanding. We like people who are honest, open, and without any pretenses.
2) Significance: I don’t know anybody who didn’t want to hear that they were important to someone else. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t want hear the words “I love you and I need you”.
3) Connection: as the saying goes, “Man is not an island”. We need relationships that work well. We cannot survive alone.
4) The Need to Grow: we need to be moving forward. We don’t mind a step back here and there but we need to feel that every 5 years or so we are in a better place, either spiritually, financially, even physically.
The secret of a happy life is to get just enough of each, to get the balance right. I also believe that one of the most essential drivers in human beings is the hunger to get these basic human needs that propel us forward, both in our personal and professional lives.
I never gave up on living in Norway, and today I believe I have cracked the “Norwegian code”. Today I make a living from sharing my experiences with other people and companies.
Today my bathroom is a very different place to the one in our first apartment. Today I can actually sit on the toilet and not even see the shower. I have taken a huge leap forward since I first set out, and I don’t mean only in materialistic terms. The one thing that has kept me going is “the hunger” for the 4 Human Needs.
But hunger alone is not enough to succeed. We need to work hard and practice our skills.
Practice, practice and … practice
I am a great believer of the “10 000 rule” – the concept that it takes 10 000 hours of dedicated practice to become really good at what you do. Only when you practice consistently hard over a long period of time will you get real and lasting results.
10 000 hours is about 5 years, if you work 40 hours a week with no holidays. I have now spent about 30.000 hours practicing the art of helping people communicate better. I have spent 30.000 hours trying to understand how Norwegians think and behave. I have spent 30.000 hours trying to come to the core of what makes people, nationalities and cultures all over the world tick. What motivates them.
I have also spent 30.000 hours trying to be the best at what I do. Yes, the BEST at what I do. It doesn’t mean I AM the best at what I do, but I do believe that I have the CAPABILITY to be the best at what I do. I also believe that there is a potential “best” in everyone. I am still hungry to be the best at what I do. Still hungry. Are you?