Passion is First


Passion is First

Reading Kathleen Laney’s blog on lessons learned is inspiring.  I have to commend her on  having passion for what you are doing first on the list. If you have passion about your job, or any task, you will succeed and more importantly, you will be fulfilled.

Consider the entrepreneur who begins a start up. For some, the task ahead is full of wonder and excitement. They are making a new widget. Its  their life’s work, their passion.

However, in many start ups, their first task is to formulate an ‘exit strategy.’  They are already thinking about how to get out of the company they started. Their passion is not in widget making, its in maneuvering their company so that google, amazon, or the latest VC will buy it. So perhaps their passion is money, not the thing that results in money.

I”m always a bit suspect of a CEO talking about his exit strategy. What is their passion?

I was told the other night about a CEO that was brought in to run a parking company, long since defunct. He brought with him a number of staff members, a CFO, CTO, Security director and the like. He eventually left, as did the folks he brought.  His tenure there was difficult.  He was surrounded by people passionate about parking, he and his staff were not. Oh they did their jobs, but they never understood the people who worked for them.

If you go on Linkedin, you can find him and his ilk. They move from job to job, doing what CEOs or CFOs do. They make a good living, but do they really help the companies for which they work. When they look back on their lives, will they be able to say,  “Boy, what a ride!”?

The greatest successes, it seems to me, are from people who are passionate about what they do. You know the list — Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Elon Musk, Lee Iacocca, Winston Churchill, Larry Johnson.

Don’t know Larry?  He runs the doughnut shop a block from my house.  He has put three kids through school, owns the building he is in, and is always smiling. I asked him one day why he was successful. “I like to work, ” he said.

He had a passion for work. Not just doughnuts, but doing the job, doing it right. Meeting customers, coming in early, enjoying the solitude of baking. He was passionate about it. It wasn’t a job, it was his life.

I”m not sure you can just decide one day you are passionate about your job. Its something that comes to you innately. The passion can grow. And certainly, its not something you can turn on or off.

The passion you feel makes you happy. You think about the task and you get a smile. Sometimes when you complete it, you actually choke  up a bit, with pride.

Are you better off in a job where you have passion, or in a job that pays twice as much. You do have to eat, you know. There are trade offs. But in the end, when you are rethinking your life, hopefully you will never have to say “what if?”

One of our staff asked to work only 4 days. She asked for a reduction in pay. She has a start up which is her passion. She is making a bit of money and can live without working full time here. I can only wish her the very best. Hopefully some day she will work no hours for us. She will not have to ask, “what if?”

Passion not only makes a better product, service, novel, or painting. It also makes a better you. And of course you can be passionate about parking. Why not?


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. John,
    When you have the opportunity to go on that ride, passion allows you to just do whatever is required without ever really knowing how difficult the task is. Failure never enters your mind. Ending the business is never a thought. Relationships are special and if you are lucky enough along the way to partner with your father for 35 years, time is measured not by seasons, but by little successes and failures that often end in laughing at yourself.
    I remember many years ago a young fella in Quebec City, with that gleam in his eye also. Today, he has experienced that same success and remains passionate about it.

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