Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Leaders with Passion

Christj0194042jpeg The word 'passion' comes from the Latin word 'passio,' meaning "suffering." If you watched Mel Gibson's intense movie "The Passion of the Christ," you probably have a whole new appreciation for this word. Whether you've seen it or not, you may want to consider two personal, yet subtle leadership questions the movie raises: What are you passionate about? How much are you willing to "suffer" to get it?

The Price of Passion
Every goal we strive for has a price. It may cost time, money, emotional energy, or lost opportunities. There's always something we must give up in order to get. And at times, this cost is painful. The more difficult and worthy the goal, the higher the price and often, the greater the suffering. (Think about Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and of course, Christ.) So, when you discuss goals at work or the dinner table, how much of the conversation concerns what you're willing to give up to reach your goal (e.g., not make progress on this project, delay addressing that issue, miss a few of your kid’s games)? Do you ever talk about what sacrifices may be needed (i.e., opportunity costs) or how you will persevere when adversity strikes? If you and your team want to keep going, especially through those tough times, you need to be passionate about your goals.

The Passionate Soul in Your Goal
A compelling goal inspires action in a given direction. Christ endured the agony of the crucifixion because of the ecstasy of his goal. The goal was his North Star. It’s where he looked during tough times. Where do you and your team look when you suffer a setback? Employees seldom seek guidance in the company mission statement because it's often manufactured in some executive suite - miles from the heart and soul of the rank and file. When I helped an organization write inspiring vision statements last month, I reminded them that if there's no soul in their mission, there'll be no passion in their action. And without passion, it's hard to overcome the painful problems that worthy goals encounter.

Plato, the grandfather of metaphysics and the godfather of soul (sorry James Brown), taught that the soul was the changeless essence of being. The soul is your unique (i.e., YOUnique) spiritual essence. Great organizations, teams, and individuals peer into their soul before setting out to achieve their goals. Perhaps this is why Kevin Rollins, president of Dell Computer ($60 billion in revenue), launched an initiative called "The Soul of Dell." They now do soul searching as part of their ongoing business practices. How might you adapt this idea?

Stars Are Seen at Night
Contrast is how we see. You can employ the power of contrast to help you re-discover the passion in your goals by spending time far from the maddening crowd. Go for walks, write in a journal, pray, or meditate every day (which is what the highly respected and former CEO of Medtronic, William George, has done for thirty-five years). How surprised will you be when these frequent respites help you see your light, renew your soul, and refresh the passion needed to carry your cross?

Keep eXpanding,

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