Staying focused is virtually impossible without passion. So how do you identify and capitalize on your passion in the leadership setting?
Passion is a craving deep within us, that yearning for something we feel we just must have. It surfaces in a multitude of ways.
Finding our passion includes dreaming big. Ask yourself some questions:
- What is my burning passion?
- What work do I find absorbing, involving, engrossing?
- What mission in life absolutely absorbs me?
- What is my distinctive skill?
Answers to questions like these will point you to your passion.
A friend of ours, the late Leonard Shatzkin, had a passion for mathematics that helped him become a pioneer in understanding the technicalities of inventory management. He developed a model of inventory control using linear regression that proved to be revolutionary for two companies he headed. But his passion didn’t just stop with benefits for his own organizations. Leonard then devoted the rest of his professional career to telling anyone who would listen about maximizing return on investment and minimizing overstocks.
That’s what passion is like; one way or another it demands expression. Even after his death, the effects of Leonard’s passion live on. His ideas and systems serve many individuals and organizations well.
Too often we allow old habits, the rigors of everyday life, and our ongoing fears or frustrations to impede our passion. We are cautioned by friends: “Don’t be so idealistic.” “Don’t be so daring.” “What if you fail?” These kinds of comments can shrink our passion so that we settle for working in fields away from our passion. We abandon it, we make do, and we play it safe.
Just as a mighty river needs a channel, passion needs a channel and a goal. Without such restraint, the result is a flood, a natural disaster. You need to make certain that you control your passion, not the other way around.
Properly focused passion changes us for the better and often helps shape organizations, even nations. So dream big. Identify what motivates you to get up in the morning. Discover where you can make a difference, based on what “floats your boat.” Some people spend their lives looking at the flyspecks on the windshield of life. Dreaming big and fulfilling your passion help you look past the flyspecks to the beautiful world on your horizon.
Along with passion, a desire to achieve motivates a leader to a higher level of focus.
I have concluded that leaders with an achievement-motivated style (balanced by humility) have the most constructive approach to work. Typically, they do not waste time on projects or matters outside their vision. They determine what is important, that “something great,” and they seek to achieve it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.” Every January millions of people watch the Super Bowl. During the awards ceremony after the game, we see players with big smiles. What are they shouting about? Not about money or fame, but about the ring. Each player on the winning team gets a championship ring—a symbol of reaching the pinnacle of the sport. Nothing else compares to having that ring. It is proof of the ultimate achievement in football. That’s what motivates an achievement-oriented person.
Achievement-motivated people need feedback. They seek situations in which they get concrete feedback that they define as job-relevant. In other words, they want to know the score.
People with a high need for achievement get ahead because, as individuals, they are producers. They get things done.