NFL's Raheem Mostert Tells Us Why

mission vision why
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert celebrates after the NFC championship game against the Green Bay Packers. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

In the business world there’s the famous question posed by Simon Sinek, Start With Why. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, Simon says no one will buy a product or follow a movement unless they know the WHY.  

The WHY is the essential part of a belief.  It’s the part that compels people to keep pushing past exhaustion, frustration and failures.  The WHY and its deeper mission is what prompted a quarter of a million people to stand on the Mall in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963 to listen to a preacher speak about his dreams for a better America.  

Let’s backtrack.  Imagine, you have a treasure hunt map.  On the map there is an ‘X marks the spot.’  The X is your destination. You know exactly where it is. You can see it. But, looks can be deceiving. Getting to the X is a lot harder than it seems - your course may have unplanned obstacles, delays, or missteps. It’s at those moments you have to decide if you are going to continue on the journey or not. And this isn’t that simple maze you found as a kid on the back of a cereal box.  It’s more like an Indiana Jones adventure filled with insects and booby traps. The journey will not be easy and, even still, it’s not the most important element. 

Nope.  The most important element is the WHY.  The WHY you took the very first step on the adventure. Something motivated you...a feeling, a belief, a passion, a mission.  

The motivation comes from that WHY.  It’s that motivation that keeps you moving towards the X, toward your mission.  After all, adventures are easy to avoid. The illusion of comfort can be way more compelling. Comfort is safe. Adventures are not. They push you, challenge you, force you to change. Your WHY has to be strong enough to overcome the discomfort of growth. And your mission has to be so clear that, despite the obstacles that may fall in your path, you know what it is you’re trying to achieve.

During the NFC Championship game, San Francisco 49’ers running back Raheem Mostert had a breakout performance in the most important game of his career (before the 49ers went on to Super Bowl XIV). He withstood the pressure that comes in a Conference championship game and rushed for 220-yards on 29 carries with 4 TDs. It was perhaps the best playoff performance by a running back ever (sorry Eric Dickerson).  

Prior to January 19, 2020, Mostert had just over 1,000 yards rushing.  He had one 100-yard rushing game in his NFL career. A career which hadn’t gone according to plan. Mostert went undrafted in 2015 after playing at Purdue. He didn’t give up and was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles. Mostert had a great pre-season...but it was not quite good enough to make the full team.

Mostert was put on the practice squad.  About a week later, he ended up on the Miami Dolphins.  Mostert got a taste of the NFL for two games before being released. Next up was the Ravens.  Then the Browns. The same running back who just torched through Green Bay’s defense was cut by 6 teams before finding a home on the 49ers. 

It was during the post-game press conference Mostert revealed his WHY.  The running back pulled out his iPhone. On his iPhone is a note that reminds him of all the times he was cut.  

Philly -- September 4th, 2015

Dolphins — October 13th, 2015

Baltimore — December 14th, 2015 

Browns — September 4th, 2016

New York Jets

Chicago Bears

Mostert admitted he looks at this screen all the time. There’s more to his reminder, including his WHY and the mission he set for himself, the journey he was committed to continuing to embark on.

Picked up on: 

49ers — 2016 (Present and here to stay)

My WHY: 

I have a family to support 

Don't want to be back on the street

Put soo much time into this to just not perform.

It’s a core belief, a steadfast mission, and an infallible WHY strong enough to move both his body and his mind. That moves him. It’s the WHY that helped him have the best game of his life in the biggest moment of his life. Without his family (his six month old son was at the game), Mostert may not have basked in the national spotlight and carried his team to victory. Without thinking about being back on the street, Mostert may not have started this game or even made the 49’ers roster. Remembering WHY he’s put in so much is WHY he didn’t give up after getting cut by six times.

Mostert’s WHY was strong enough to compel him to take his first step towards his X Marks The Spot, in this case, an NFL career.  It’s the same WHY that has kept him going, going, going, going, going, going and going even after his mind told him to quit one million times. Everytime his mind told him to quit, Mostert had the courage to keep going. 

Mostert’s lesson to us is that our WHY and our mission has to be strong enough to move our body and mind.  Because when the body says NO, the mind has to say YES and when the mind says NO, the body says YES.  

We can find our WHY with the same process, but asking ourselves what passion, what skill, what feeling gets us to tell ourselves YES every time our mind says stop.  Mostert’s WHY and mission has taken him all the way to the Super Bowl in 2020. 

Where will your WHY and Mission take you?

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Image Source: AP Photo/Tony Avelar