Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Follow your passion and success will follow you.
Most organizations have Mission Statements and spend a significant amount of time, and money, on strategic planning sessions to create their Vision. But if the above statements are true, and I think that they are, it seems to me that organizations should consider adopting “Passion Statements” that convey the why of what they do. The purpose of this blog is to examine the concept of passion and the role it plays, or should play, in our lives.
Passion is defined as “a strong and barely controllable emotion.” It is interesting to note that passion can mean very different things: joy, excitement, anger, rage, and lust. We use phrases like “a crime of passion” to describe a violent and tragic act usually brought on by jealousy on the one hand, and then a “passionate love affair” to denote an exciting romantic relationship on the other.
When it comes to leadership and self-actualization, I think of passion as the fire and energy that fuel our behavior. Passion is why we get up early, why we work late, and why we keep persisting in the face of disappointments and setbacks.
From a leadership perspective, passion produces a number of things, including energy, influence, and persistence. First, leaders who are passionate are driven forward by an additional reservoir of energy. Rather than just going through the motions and trying to hang on until 5:00pm, they are energized to work as long as it takes to get the job done. Second, passion is contagious and will ignite others. Those working around you feel your energy and commitment, and are more likely to be energized as a result. John Wesley said, “When you set yourself on fire, people love to come and see you burn.” When you are burning and working with passion, you are more effective at influencing others. And, passion helps sustain you during challenging times. There are many times when the logical thing to do is to quit. Yet, passionate leaders are more likely to persist in the face of obstacles and setbacks, ultimately living to fight, and often win, another day.
Passion and Success
In the book “If it Ain’t Broke … Break It!” authors Kriegel and Patler cite a study that examined the role of passion in success and happiness. The study selected 1,500 people who were embarking on their careers and followed them over a 20-year period. In the study, Group A consisted of 1,245 (or 83%) participants who chose careers that had a high potential for making a lot of money initially so that they could do what they wanted to do later in life. The other 255 (or 17%) participants, Group B, chose their career for the exact opposite reason: they decided to follow their passion now and worry about money later.
At the end of the 20 years, 101 of the 1,500 participants had become millionaires. And guess what—100 out of the 101 were from Group B, those who had chosen to follow their passion. Clearly, there is something to be said for finding and following your passion.
So, in addition to organizations having Passion Statements, maybe you should too. What are you passionate about? Are you following your passion today? When you are at work do others come around to watch you burn, or do you huddle together around the warmth of the clock ticking towards 5:00pm?
A very good Book says that “Where there is no vision, the people will perish.” Maybe something similar could be said about passion. When we live without passion we may not perish, but we certainly won’t feel alive.