I was talking with a friend about the things that determine whether or not things are done and done well. Duty. Requirement. Obligation. Threat of dismemberment. The list goes on. But the real thing about all of this is whether or not there’s any passion, ownership or buy in to the task at hand. Do I care? Why do I care? Can I (or we, as a team), fundamentally make things better, easier, more enjoyable or helpful for someone or for a bunch of people? Is there an authentic motivation for what I’m doing?
As we were talking through this I got the latest edition of the Lefsetz Letter, where Bob talks about authenticity and why people respond to it. He uses Five Guys Burgers as a launching pad for why people connect to artists, ideas, brands, and companies, and most of it, Lefsetz posits, is about authenticity and passion.
I couldn’t agree more. When I talk with people about projects, my level of engagement is immediately apparent to my potential clients. And I’ve learned to be honest about my level of passion for projects, because I know that if I’m not into it, then I’ll hold back. It might be holding back 5% or 10%, but that percentage can be the difference between tipping the scales in one direction or another. And it’s what I look for in working partners or people I hire. I spoke with someone a few months ago and was trying to asses their interests and passions, and all I got was a standard, “I like a lot of stuff. I can go wither way,” as though having no opinion or passion was a way to win my approval.
I think we should be able to share the things we’re passionate about, and see how those passions help us in what we do. Our passions speak to what moves someone, what connects, and how we relate to one another. It’s why my skater friend and I make a connection between skating and music – things that are lifestyle-oriented, things that require authenticity and credibility. We may have different tastes in those things, but the passion is similar. Likewise the passion for finding the heart of the matter with a client, identifying the real need, the real promise and the real search to serve someone. Those things can’t be faked. Well, they can, but they lead only to cleverness for cleverness’s sake, and not to helping people find something meaningful and lasting.
So be passionate about things. Ask why you’re touched, moved, inspired or annoyed and what those things lead you to explore. Enjoy!