Culture, part 8: Passion
Without passion man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark. --Henri-Frédéric Amiel
We may affirm absolutely that nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.
--Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Passion is what drives us to get up in the morning every day. It gives us the strength to go above and beyond. It gets us fired up to take on any challenge and accomplish the impossible. Passion comes from a deep belief in the value of what you are doing paired with a deep belief that it is possible to do, no matter how daunting it may look at the outset. I believe that the number one motivator people have is a desire to 'win'. People want to accomplish great things, and they want to be on a winning team. Winning can come in many different forms (visibly delighting customers, winning awards, taking market share, doing good for other people, making the world a better place, making money, doing something considered 'impossible' by most people, driving shareholder value, ...), but that feeling of achievement runs deep in our human nature and passion is both motivator and the fuel for achievement.
Follow your passion — Do things you are passionate about! Life is too short to spend it doing things you are not passionate about. I know this is easier said than done, but it is worth striving for, to the best of your circumstances and ability. Remember that work is life: I believe strongly in a healthy work/non-work balance, but don’t think of work as something ‘other' than life. You spend most of your waking hours at work, so you should consider it a worthwhile way to spend your life. If you are doing something that you are truly not passionate about, you should consider changing, if you can. And remember there are two ways to change what you do: get another job (etc), or change how you do it, so that you can unlock passion in it.
Nurture your passion — Passion needs tending. It can whither and fade if it is not taken care of. Do things that validate and re-energize your passion. For example, when I’m in the office for too long, I can get too inwardly focused and start to feel my spark grow dimmer. Getting out in front of clients, who are the ultimate source of truth in business, always re-energizes me and reminds me why we do what we do.
Share your passion — Passion is infectious. The more you share it with those around you (teammates, customers, ...) the more powerful it becomes as a force for positive change, and frankly the better you feel as you get a positive feedback loop about it from those others. The best leaders are deeply passionate about what they are doing and they infect those around them with their passion. That’s how effective leaders get people willing to walk through walls to see the mission completed. And remember that it only takes 10% of a group believing something for everyone in that group to believe it eventually.
Channel your passion — Passion has a dark side. Don’t let it stray into negativity, blind you, or make you sound shrill. When passion hits a roadblock, it needs to find a way around or through that block. Don’t let it pool up and turn into frustration and eventually something destructive. Never forget to question and challenge yourself and make sure you still believe in your passion and that it is focused on the right things.
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Philip Brittan is the General Partner of Crazy Peak LLC
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