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Is Passion a Key Element for Success?

I recently attended a talk by a famous professional photographer.  At one stage in his career he had grown his company to a point where he was hiring a lot of people, wearing a suit and no longer shooting photographs himself.  Therefore he was looking for and hiring talented photographers, to do the shooting, while he ran the business.  He started off basing his hiring decision on the normal criteria of skills, work ethic, interpersonal skills and sales ability.  Often he had numerous candidates that all had the same skill level and could all perform the job.

Over time he found that the folks that were passionate about photography, would go the extra mile needed to do a great job thereby ensuring a higher level of customer service and satisfaction.  Therefore he came to conclusion that passion should be his primary decision making point, followed by the rest of the criteria.  As a result of this change, he found that his pool of candidates was significantly smaller.  Surprisingly he also found that his pool of candidates had a slightly lower skill level but were more than willing to go that extra mile to ensure a great job.  So he took a chance with the lower skill level and moved ahead.  It was a successful gamble and he now attributes this change of hiring policy as one of the pivotal points that contributed to his business growth.

The image on the right, shows quite a gap between what is needed and the skills and and passion combination.  This gap (the visible red portion) is a massive opportunity that someone else can easily step into.

As I am writing this post, a rerun of Hells Kitchen was playing in the background.  Gordon Ramsey said the following to one of the contestants:   “I can teach a chef to cook but I cannot give you a heart.”

So is Passion a key element for success? I believe that passion can be a key differentiator.  It can be a great multiplier for your capabilities and can help close the gap between skills and the need.  (as shown in the image on the left)

I say that passion can be a great multiplier because passion is a blade that can cut both ways.  You need to channel your passion in a manner that complements your capabilities and not against your capabilities.  For example, throwing a temper tantrum when things do not work out your way is a good example of passion going against you.  Leverage your passion to complement your capabilities while being very aware of the possible price of passionate behavior.

So if passion is so important, what do I do if I am not passionate about what I am currently doing?  The answer is short and simple.  Do something that you can be passionate about.  Go and experiment and try different things.  A well known author only discovered her passion when she was her early 40’s.  It took her 8 years to write the book and it has since been reprinted 43 times.  Those culinary blood hounds will know that I am referring to Julia Childs.  So if you do not know what your passion is, go an experiment, learn from failures and try new things until you find your passion.  Until then be very passionate about what your current word provides you with.

When you do what you are passionate about what you are working on, it comes through in not only the results but also in how you go about your efforts.  Not only will your passion be evident to others but it also provide you with an additional level of energy.  When channeled appropriately it will provide yu with an additional 10% without you realizing it.

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