If you love your work, you’ll be out there every day trying to do it the best you possibly can, and pretty soon everybody around will catch the passion from you – like a fever.
That quote is by Sam Walton, one of the founders of Walmart. I would say that Sam has done pretty well for himself and his business and that Sam is a pretty smart man.
“I wish to be as smart as Sam, and if knowledge in my head I cram, then one day I shall say…as smart as Sam I am”
Sorry, I had to do it. I Couldn’t resist going with the Dr. Seuss reference. It was practically daring me to do it! You saw it too, right?
There are a lot of articles on passion, especially when it comes to business, careers and workplaces. They are either on finding it, developing it, keeping it, igniting it in others, or only doing what fuels it. I’m here to talk about having people around you that have it. It can be very beneficial. Whether their passion is for their work, religion, family, co-workers, hobby or even politics. Yes, even that one!
The point is, I think that it’s our passion for something that gets us out of bed in the morning. Whatever that “it” is. If you are like me, “it” is one of the first things you think about in the morning. Well, actually my bladder always gets me out of bed, so that is the first thing on my mind, but the second thing, yes, the second thing I’m thinking about is my day, and within that lies my passion for what I do!
T.M.I.? You’ll get over it.
But I say that passion isn’t, and can’t be only for what you do, or love to do each day. I say your passion, your inner fire is, or at least needs to be also…for you!
Follow me along here and I’ll explain.
There’s no question if you poll any of the people around me that my passion for my businesses and our employees is huge. (Not as much passion as I hold for my lovely wife, but that’s another story!) I couldn’t hide my passion for what we are building here if I tried. I’m definitely the visionary and the person always working to “inspire” others to do their best and help them get fulfillment in their job and their position within our work family. I’m also very protective of everyone.
Attack one of my employees character, commitment, integrity, or work ethic? I’m all over the attacker like white on rice! Throw shade at my business? You had better back the hell up, bubba!
Well, here’s where it gets interesting. My response is not the way you’d think I’d respond and relates to having a passion for yourself, which is what I eluded to earlier.
First some clarity and definition.
We’ve all heard of fight or flight, right?
These are our “primitive” responses to a threat. Fight means exactly what it says, to stay, or hold your ground and fight your enemy. Flight means to flee or to run away or avoid the conflict.
These threats can come in many forms, from the physical, to attacks on character, attacks on your religious beliefs and even what you do for a living or who you work for.
Now, back to my point. A threat to me.
I’m a weird oxymoron…no not a moron, an oxymoron. That means I’m special.
An Oxymoron is a self-contradicting word or group of words – for example, “less is more.”
I’m a fighter, but I don’t fight.
Anyway, I tell myself I’m the first to stand up to a fight, and fancy myself as a “fighter”, at least in business terms, I am. I’d have to be, right? You don’t build a successful business by being a pacifist, let me tell you. But I’m also a “turn your cheek” kind of guy, also.
A smart man once told me “you never have to apologize or atone for words or actions you DIDN’T do when angry”. Meaning, do not do things in anger. So, if I can avoid an unnecessary confrontation with someone, I will try and do that. Thus, the oxymoron. I’ll take on the fight, but only when there is no other way, but to fight.
Well, as its been for everybody, 2020 has been a rough year for businesses. A deadly flu bug, quarantines, complete economic shutdowns, political division/separation like no other and historic year of forest fires and hurricanes can make a person want fast forward to 2021. I, like millions of other people across the country, feel a bit beaten down, and have some chinks in my armor, so to speak.
Along with that, we’ve had what was supposed to be a great breakthrough and business venture with people who I thought I knew very well, turn into a very ugly, complicated chore.
Let’s just say these individuals sold themselves as one thing and they turned out to be a completely different thing. The character, knowledge level, work ethic and overall business competency of these pseudo business partners wasn’t just sub-par, it was awful! Of course, it was too late by the time I discovered this huge problem. Long story short, each of these persons decided on their own that they couldn’t, or wouldn’t work to our business standards, learn anything new (like how to operate a computer), or have an open mind to change, and they quit.
That’s all fine and dandy, but these individuals who I “once upon a time” had the utmost respect for, not only let me and our other employees down horribly, but they also decided to throw massive amounts of shade at me! I’m no saint, but one thing I can say is that I am very principled in my business practices and take great pride in keeping my word and always trying to do the right thing, even if it’s the unpopular thing and even if I don’t want to. Which is what I feel I did to a “T”.
But, here I am being referred to and called a whole passel of new adjectives by them. I was referred to as a “snake in the grass”, “shady”, “a liar” and “two-faced” and even called “crooked”. There were more, but the point is the attack upon me. For the most part, I turned the other cheek. I know my character, I know I tried to do right by them at every turn, but I also know I needed to hold them accountable for the promises and commitments they made to me and to our business, and when I did, they turned on me. It’s hard to hear things like that about yourself…and like it or not, those words can do damage. No one is immune. Turning the other cheek still leaves a mark.
I tried to not let it affect me, but their leaving hurt our business venture, and at the time I was already in a weakened state mentally…remember that whole COVID thing that’s been going on, right? So, I lost some passion and know I lost some fire in my gut. I also lost some faith in people and was seriously doubting myself, my ability to discern between good or bad individuals, and my decision to start this new venture during a pandemic in the first place. I was now in some uncharted territory. Instead of waking up with passion, excitement, sureness, vision and strength, I now had my morning start off with doubt, worry, indecision, and an overwhelming urge to scream and just “run”.
I didn’t want to literally run but do it mentally. You know, hit the checkout button, turn off the light, change the channel. You get the point.
Then, something awesome happened. It took me awhile to get rid of my “Pity-party” glasses and see what was going on, but all of that shade these guys were throwing, flared up the bellies of everyone around me like a giant inferno. I had person after person standing up defending me, defending our company, defending “their” company! They were taking it personally and took it to task that no one throws shade at our company, no one throws shade at our man, no one throws shade at us!
You could hear it in their voices, you could read it in their emails or texts back and forth, and you could see it in their actions. The chips on their shoulders were growing into oak trees! They were saying and doing the things I would do when I got riled up and was defending one of our own! And, that’s just what I personally saw for myself! How many others were riled up? How many others had the same feeling and were saying “we’ll show them!”? It doesn’t matter. The point is the actions and reactions to all of this were real and they were “passionate”!
I have to say it was inspirational, seeing the fire manifest before my eyes. And in seeing their fire, my fire flared.
I now realized, I need to be more passionate, carry more passion, have a hotter fire going inside…for myself! I never lost passion for the business or for our business family. I lost passion and belief in myself and lost how my passion flares others’ passion and that it in itself carries a huge value for us all.
When I needed a flame, others carrying the flame of passion showed me they could and would fire that flare! They showed that my fight was their fight. We are a team, we are a family.
That’s why each person needs to wake up each day and build their own fires within themselves. Carry passion for who you are, share that passion and fire with others. Help them build their own fire.
If you are carrying a fire and passion for yourself and you are also a caring, ethical, hard working person, you will not only be unstoppable, but you can also ignite fires of passion in those around you, too.
“It’s not what you did today, but instead how you did it.”
You never know who you may inspire with your passion. Regardless of what your job title is, it’ll be your spirit, your passion and fire that people will remember.
Here’s a quote from Martin Luther King that I think is appropriate.
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
~Martin Luther King