DR. CUMMINGS: What’s your passion?

January 26, 2014 

What gets you out of bed in the morning? It takes my older grandson forever to wake up on the days he has class. But golf? Just mention it, and he’s up and gone. It’s his passion. My younger grandson wrestles. He spends hours and weeks and months practicing and pumping iron for just three minutes on the mat. But it’s his passion. What’s yours? What energizes you and makes you alert and alive and enthusiastic? What do you talk about whenever you get the chance? What’s your passion?

The dictionary defines passion as ambition that becomes action; an action to put as much heart, mind, body and soul into something as possible. Action is the key word. If you’ve got passion, you’re active; you’re moving. Passion is not passive. People who sit around and moan and groan about the government have no passion. They have opinions and emotions and anger, but they’re not passionate enough to do something. Passion moves you off the couch.

Introverts can have passion. It’s not just the wild and crazy extroverts. I remember Dr. W. Edwards Deming, the man who taught the business world the importance of quality. He was a very dry professor of statistics at New York University in the 1940s. He never made a splash, never led a protest, never traveled out of New York. Then in 1945, when the war ended, Gen. Douglas MacArthur asked him to come to Japan, and that’s when he found his passion. It wasn’t just statistics. It was the statistical measurement of quality. The Japanese businessmen poured in to hear his lectures and then began to produce better cars and TVs than Americans. Dr. Deming’s passion made him a Japanese hero.

But passion doesn’t always make you rich. Oh, I’m sure it helped Bill Gates and George Soros and Warren Buffet and the other billionaires, but money is not always the goal. My wife volunteers at a local elementary school. She teaches ADHD and dyslexic children to read. This is her passion. Her reward is the look on their faces, the love in their eyes and the hugs they give her when they succeed.

But what if a person doesn’t have passion? What if that person just plods along day after day, working at the same boring job, talking to the same vapid people and watching the same senseless TV shows? What if nothing really excites them? What if that person has no goals, no vision, no desire to find something new? Do you know anybody like this? Maybe somebody at work?

One day a week, I work in Atlanta. It’s a large company, and I’m the leadership coach for the top executives. Everybody at that level has passion. They couldn’t stay there without it. But every once in a while I see a young man or woman -- always a new recruit -- who just wants to coast. No ambition, no desire to grow, not a competitive bone in his or her whole body. They never raise objections in meetings, never volunteer, never get outside the box. Wonderful people: charming men and beautiful women. But no passion. They don’t last very long.

My advice is to find your passion and focus on it. Find what you like to do in life and do it. Life is very short, believe me. You think it goes by fast? No, it goes by faster. Don’t worry about the money. It’ll come. People who spend their lives trying to make money instead of trying to make happiness end up in that old poor house called selfish misery.

Nurture your passion. You’ll be glad you did.

View Dr. C.’s leadership videos on www.digitallydrc.com.

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