Clarifying Your So-Called Passion

[this is  a summer re-post series re-post]

Three years ago I was going through the end of a 29-year marriage, and it was one of the most horrible experiences of my life (including the month my daughter spent a month in intensive care after she’d been born.)

In order to try to figure out what I needed to do next, one of the things I did was write a letter to my twelve-year-old self. I realize not everybody likes writing to help figure things out like I do – I also have journal-ed on and off over the years – but it’s a cool exercise to go through if you’re inclined.

It help me clarify what was important to me, what my healthy boundaries might look like, and it help me centre on that passion thing everybody is always talking about. I’m sharing it here on the chance that it might help somebody else write their own letter and make their own decisions. Not that it has to be as dramatic as my situation, but maybe it’ll help…

Letter to My 12-Year-Old Self

You’re a pretty cool kid. You’re smart, you’re funny, you’re creative. You have empathy and heart and love in buckets.

Find the people who like you for who you are, who push you, think deeply, and know how to love, laugh, and trust despite having been hurt. They’re awkward, geeky, often quiet, sometimes weird and occasionally fucked up. They are wicked cool, and so are you. You and they will create the future.

Don’t put up with other’s who disrespect you. You don’t have to like people that don’t like you.

You are not responsible for (or control) anybody else’s happiness. You can care for somebody, you can love them, you can want them to be happy. But you can’t make somebody happy, or fix them, or take away their hurt. You can be there for them. It’s like sharing a meal with somebody. You can keep them company, but you can’t chew and swallow their food for them.

Learn to say difficult things with as much thought and compassion as you can. People who deserve to know deserve to know the truth. They deserve to make informed choices for themselves. Just like you.

Nobody else is responsible for (or controls) your happiness. How you feel and what you decide to do about it is your choice. Nobody else’s. You get to choose how you feel. It doesn’t just happen.

Trying to escape your feelings doesn’t work. They will always be there. The longer you ignore them the more rancid they become. Turn and face them, work through them, and move on.

Learn to listen with your whole body, soul, and mind. Ask questions. Seek to understand. Listening is not the same as agreeing. Don’t confuse the two.

You like being right, but that isn’t always the most important thing. Learn the difference and why it matters.

Shitty things will sometimes happen for no good reason. Learn what you can from them and then move on.

Work with your hands when you can – it’s part of who you are. Learn as much as you can – it’s part of who you are. Create and contribute – it’s part of who you are. This is your joy.

More Powerful Than Passion

Mike Rowe has some interesting things to say about passion versus opportunity, and ends his blurb with: “Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you.

He also has some interesting things to say in his TEDTalk, although the video is a bit longer at 20 minutes.

Start With the “Why?”

You must inspire people to drive business executionDan Pink argues that three surprising things motivate people: mastery, autonomy, and purpose. In business execution, I argue, you need to start with the purpose.

That’s what I wrote for this month’s article at RESULTS.com – You must inspire people to drive business execution. Check it out and let me know what you think?

Question for the Comments:
What is your purpose for working or running a business, beside just making money? How do you inspire people?

Other articles you may find interesting:
Why Are You Hiding Your Values
Deep Survival: Business Lessons From the Wild
What Do You Want to Be the Leader Of?

Bernie works as a leadership and business coach, consultant, and facilitator. He believes there are simple things outstanding leaders do well, and that not to do anything about bad leadership once you know about it is abuse. Check out what he does with RESULTS.com

One Discovery, Two Decisions

The best part of my job is working with, sharing, inspiring and being inspired by passionate, smart people. It turns my crank. I am lucky to have this life. I try to stop and be grateful when as often as I can.

I had one of those moments last week at breakfast with the Design4Change agency, Patricia Derbyshire of Mount Royal University, and Earnest Barbaric the social media strategist. Clarity came while we were talking marketing and career choices.

I believe we all have one discover and two choices we all have to make to gain mastery, be fulfilled, and be engaged in our work and our lives. There are things we all need to do in order to be successful in life, no matter how we define success. Here’s what I think those things are:

Discover What You’re Good At

This is one of those simple but not always easy to carry out concepts. It takes thought, focus, and self-awareness. We all enjoy something, we can all be good at something, we all need to master something. Being good and being recognized by others as being good, is the difference between thriving and merely surviving.

What are you good at? What makes time fly, leaves you energized instead of drained, or is fun for you? If you can’t think of anything, or you don’t get to do it very often, maybe it’s time for a change? Life is too short and hard already to spend it doing something that eats your soul instead of feeding it.

Figure out what that thing is, then  figure out how to make a living at it.

Choose Who You’re Going to Work With

Maslow got it wrong. The “social” need of his hierarchy is just as important as food and shelter.

People matter, and who you surround yourself with matters. Choose your friends and co-workers carefully. The biggest influence on a child’s life? Not their parents, but their friends. Want to raise good kids? Choose their friends  carefully.

Business success depends on the people you choose to hire (or not). Don’t waste your time with somebody who you wouldn’t enthusiastically rehire. It’s not worth it.

Choose to Keep Learning

You can learn and adapt by trial and error, or you can learn from others. Darwin didn’t say that survival would go to the fittest. He said it would go to the most adaptable. Those that learn also adapt and survive.

Get into the habit of reading, learning, and always always always trying to find ways to simplify and do things better. You could do it by trial and error, on your own, but that doesn’t seem very efficient does it?

I believe that these are the simple things that outstanding managers (and successful human beings) do well.

Question for the Comments:
What are the lifetime habits that help you succeed?

Other articles you may find interesting:
Eight Career Rules For My Teenage Daughter
Following Your Passion
Getting the Job You Want by Talking to the Right People

Bernie works as a leadership and business coach, consultant, and facilitator. He believes there are simple things outstanding leaders do well, and that not to do anything about bad leadership once you know about it is abuse. Check out what he does with RESULTS.com

The Fire in Your Belly

Have the balls to care about something.

I want to challenge you to have a fire in your belly. It doesn’t have to be a big fire, but that’s OK if you do. Have something to live for. Care about something, and care about something that’s real. Care about other people

Find like minded-people that care about the same things, in the same way. Make a difference in the world.

And while I’m on my soap-box – there’s no substitute for real family. Family that loves you back.

That is all.

What Do You Want To Be the Leader Of?

Why do you really want to be the boss?

Think about all the great and the not-so-good people you’ve worked with. Think about what made the good ones good, and the not-so-good ones not- so-good. You probably won’t stray too far from doing an OK job of being a boss if you keep the example of the good bosses in mind as you go through your day.

Now remember the *best* boss you ever had the privilege to work for (and maybe still do). They probably make you want to be a better person in some way. What drove them to excel, and to lead others to excel? What was the passion that gave them the energy and the drive they needed to keeping pushing forward?

What is your passion? What’s your life’s purpose? What do you want to do before you die. More importantly, why? Beyond making money, why are you working?

If you’re not realizing your passion in your current role, then why are you there?

What Counts in Leadership

Surprise: passion, credibility, and values still count

Turning Anxiety into Performance

What happens when you take responsibility for you life? Turn anxiety into performance.