First in a Series. Inspired by a friend’s comments about Bill George’s True North.
Authentic leaders pursue their purpose with passion.
“Love is the most powerful four-letter word” –John Wooden
Coach Wooden was not talking about romantic love or sexual desire – he was talking about passion. The passion to be successful, to be the best basketball player (or anything else for that matter) a person could be. Once someone has defined their purpose, whether it be broad, such as their life’s purpose, or more narrow, like the role they will play on a new project at work, it is paramount to chase that purpose with passion.
We all know what it feels like to not care about something. It could be a dead-end job or a relationship that no longer works. We do not like to stay with these feelings long, they slow us down, and we feel directionless. As we have all felt stymied, hopefully we have also experienced what it feels like to be passionate.
Passion is intense. Passion is a deep conviction. Passion is YOU in overdrive. Passion brings emotion to the forefront – and it is up to your leadership abilities to balance it with reason. By being clear on your purpose, the balance will come naturally. And you will enjoy the pursuit immensely. You will wake up ready to take on the day’s challenges. The time you spend pursuing your purpose speeds on by.
What about the word “pursue”? How does it differ from the words “chase” or “follow”? The word “pursue” implies a plan, “chase” seems frenzied and “follow” seems a bit weak. Pursue is not passive – it is active – leaders pursue their purpose. They engage in it. Purpose. Plan. Passion. Define your purpose. Plan its pursuit. Follow it passionately. And lead.
How does passion help define an authentic leader? If you are passionate about a project, even if you are not the assigned leader, your peers will turn to you for guidance and direction. Your desire to see the project to succeed will propel you into a natural leadership role. Your team will want the project to succeed because of your passion.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to discuss something you are passionate about? Whether it is your hometown basketball team or a global humanitarian cause, you are able to talk about it effortlessly and endlessly. You have the desire to have others around you have the same drive about your cause, your purpose. Sometimes your passion is contagious, but sometimes it is not. If your peers aren’t similarly driven, you might feel frustrated at first, but your passion continues to carry you forward, seeking other like-minded leaders who are as focused as you.
Spend some time defining what you feel passionate about. And then spend even more time using that passion to define your purpose. This is important, especially in times of transition. Once you know what stokes your internal fire; a new horizon appears. You are on your way to one of the most fulfilling experiences of your life.
Tools to help you define your passion are varied. Journaling might work for one person. Conversation for another. Someone else might find the answer by working on different projects and find the one that “clicks’ with them. If you are unsure about your purpose, pursue something you think you might be passionate about, if it is not right, try again. And maybe try again. You have too much to lose.
Passionately pursue your purpose. Others will follow. And you will lead.
What do you think? Can an individual be a leader without passion? What projects have you pursued passionately? Were you successful? While in pursuit, what happened? How did you feel? Who, if anyone joined you? Did your desire propel you into a leadership role?