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 Frederic Amiel
At countless workshops and conferences, I have heard keynote speakers talk many times about passion and how important it is. I certainly agree, and even I find myself energized after hearing these motivational speakers. After a couple days, however, that shot of passion usually weakens and fades away.
Passion does not suddenly arrive, nor can you grow it out of nothing. And I have never, ever seen passion for sale. Passion—true passion, that is—has to be learned or nurtured, and that is a gradual process. It is not one of those things that happens quickly. It must be sowed and carefully cultivated so it becomes a complete part of you and not just a passing fancy.
Related Article: 5 Ways to Ignite Passion in Your Team
Most people have something they are passionate about, and everyone’s are different. Some people are passionate about their children, their spouse or their grandchildren. Other people are passionate about fishing, tennis, hiking or some other thing that motivates them to a high degree.
So where do we learn passion? Much of the time, it comes from our parents and their interests. My dad loved technology, and if you know me, you know that not only did I inherit the bug, I infected both my children as well. Even my grandson Jackson has got it. No doubt had my dad been excited about fishing, we would have all been into that.
So our parents are one way we learn passion, and chance is another way. Sometimes you find something that just clicks with you, and passion is born. For example, I am going to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain in September. That is a 500-mile walk and something many probably cannot imagine being enthusiastic about.
For me, the passion for that trip built slowly, but it all began with my first exposure. I saw the movie “The Way,” which is about the Camino de Santiago, and then Ellie introduced me to hiking.
From the first time I went hiking in the woods with her, I was sold. Then my good friend Pam Butler wanted to go on the walk with me, and I learned that other friends, Morgan and Gregg Patterson, did the walk last summer.
The point of sharing this story is to show that all these things just came into my life without any effort on my part. In order for them to take root and be incorporated into who I am, however, I had be open to them. Now this passion is so consuming that it is hard to think or talk about anything else. All this to say passion can be planted and grown if you allow the seeds to germinate.
My story also shows that passion is contagious. Ellie shared her passion for hiking with me, and mine grew the more I discovered others who shared my enthusiasm. This is important for leaders to remember.
People want to follow leaders who are passionate about the things they ask their staff to do. If you cannot get excited about the path or destination, there is no way you can expect your team to be.
A leader must show passion to be successful, which is why it is so important to have a business mission that goes beyond just making money. Your mission must be something people can buy into—service or the community, for example. Those are things people can connect with.
Bottom line, you must find things that you are really passionate about or your staff is passionate about in order to be the kind of leader they will follow.
When I was executive director of the Jim Moran Institute at FSU, I had to plan an annual dinner for 500 people, sell tables to the event and deal with so many of the details that made the event successful. This required me and my staff to work 18 to 20 hours every day the week leading up to the event, and I knew they depended on me to fuel their motivation.
Every year, for 15 years, I did this by telling them how excited I was for the event. I would always say how important it is to the local community to highlight the accomplishments of great entrepreneurs. At the end of the day, my staff was willing to work this hard because they had my passion as their motivation—plus, they were great people!
Now go out and make sure you are passionate about your leadership so your staff will want to follow you.
You can do this!