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Live with passion

Live with passion

So I managed to fit in a single day’s skiing last Sunday.
Nothing very remarkable about that, you might think, until you learn that I haven’t skied for 20 years despite it being one of my passions in life. The reason for this (previously) sad state of affairs is a long story but the Lesson Learned was as obvious as the skis on my feet: if you have a passion in life, in business or in pleasure, then don’t let anything stop you doing it.

In business we actually fall foul of this surprisingly often, letting the demands of day-to-day activities, pressure from colleagues and peers and fear of the unknown distract us from doing the stuff we love such as breaking in to new markets, competing for and undertaking high value projects, writing (!), visiting key customers, innovating new products, taking time out to refine our strategy or simply to read up on developments in our sector.

Cashflow issues are often the cause of constraints. In recessionary times we have to (or feel we have to) spend much of our time making sure that cash is sufficient. This can become a short term myopic focus at the expense of a long term solution. In fact our passions often do link closely with the long term solution regarding cash.

My skiing analogue is relevant: initially I didn’t go because my wife feared heights, didn’t like the idea of ski boots, hated snow and was petrified by speed. In some years cash (or lack of it) was a factor too. So was the arrival of small children. Meanwhile we got used to an unsatisfactory compromise. Rather than go skiing – that I loved but my partner didn’t – we went to warmer climes for a holiday that we both at least quite liked. As a result, the skiing passion was eventually forgotten and the constant clamour of everyday life dimmed its power.

In business we do this too. Our short term demands and the basic activity of our jobs blur our passions. Peers distract us from change. Over time, everyday realities blind us.

So what do we do? In my case the medicine was pretty drastic and involved breaking a relationship and starting a new one. OK I didn’t go through the terrors of divorce just to be able to go skiing, you understand, but my ability to engage in my passions (skiing or otherwise) is dramatically increased these days. What I realise of course is that I should have at least made a better compromise and found a way to go skiing before.

But you and your team members are probably holding yourselves back right now. What was the excitement that got you in to your industry? What are the business passions of your team members? What objectives excite you, motivating you to give everything?

There are a couple of actions worth considering here:
1. Consider yourself. What are the passions that you are ignoring? How could you re-engage, even just for a short while?
2. Consider your team. What business passions are in the team? Very often these are complementary and one can improve the performance of team by encouraging team members to engage in their personal passions. Or you can do the standard Time Upgrade exercise: get each team member to nominate 20% of their work that they think they could stop doing and either drop or delegate, and to then identify the most exciting activities that they could contribute with their new free time.

So the result of my giving up giving up skiing, if you see what I mean, is a re-motivated focus on making time and resources available to support my renewed skiing addiction, but also to refocus my business activities on to the creation of new products and lines of business, delegating some previously time consuming activities to more junior colleagues (who are pleased to take on the increased responsibilities, it turns out).

Recession is a particular trial but those able to flourish now will come out far ahead of their de-motivated competitors. As Anthony Robbins would say :”Live with Passion”. And don’t let anything get in your way.

Footnote:
As we headed back down in to Vancouver from the wonderfully convenient Cypress Mountain after a day on perfect snow beneath blue skies, I was surprised to find that I was flushed with an unwelcome emotion: anger. “How could I have let myself neglect such a passion?” I blustered to myself. If your startup goes bust because you are chasing your tail and neglecting your passion then I guess you will feel similar emotions before long.

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