Success Starts Early - Passion

"It's better to burn out than rust out.  Set yourself on fire and the whole world will come to watch."

A business associate told me this a long time ago before going into a meeting, probably quoting a book he had been reading.  I don't remember much else about our conversation but that word picture has stuck with me through the years.  We've probably all seen rusty old cars that no longer run.  A burning car would be equally useless (perhaps even moreso because there would be no opportunity to scavenge parts), but wouldn't you agree that would attract more curious onlookers?  Now here's the interesting fact: fire and rust are both forms of oxidation, which is a scientific term that describes the reaction of a compound with oxygen.  During oxidation, the original compound loses electrons (the negative part of an atom) and is therefore changed to an ion or a different compound.  In my friend's analogy, therefore, the only difference in the two options was the speed and intensity of that process.  In life, you may discover that the ingredient you can add to any situation to create more speed and intensity (and perhaps remove a little negative along the way) is passion.

What comes to your mind when you hear that word?  Passion is often tied to romance, an experience where our culture is more comfortable accepting emotional desire.  For instance, I read once that a husband should love his wife so that "she may question your sanity, but never your passion."  The concept is that the pursuit of the person or thing is so emotional that it is barely restrained by logic - the brain is only half a step in front of the heart.  Do you think that's the best description? 

What are you passionate about?  Whether it's business, love, or just hobbies, at some point in time you're going to have to care enough about what you want most that it may seem like you're becoming unreasonable.  Accept the fact that not everyone will share your vision or priorities, and maintain focus on what you desire.  Once you've taken the time to identify your worthwhile goals in life, you shouldn't have to water them down to make sure someone else is comfortable with your decision.  Great musicians and athletes don't apologize for their hours of practice every day, even if a critic disagrees with them, and neither should we. 

The great basketball coach John Wooden once made the assertion that "I prize intensity and fear emotionalism".  After winning 10 championships it's pretty obvious he had a passion for what he did, but he maintained a steady focus on achieving his goals instead of allowing his feelings to determine his motivation and activity.  Become relentless in the pursuit of reaching your chosen target, and develop your passion so that it'll carry you through the rough times.  Once you achieve a goal you'll be glad you did. 


Write down one of your dominant goals from a previous week.  Then write what possible obstacles you could have, and how to overcome them.  Then write down what you're willing to give up to reach your target.  Then close your eyes and imagine what it'll be like when you accomplish the goal - make it as vivid and detailed as possible.  On an index card make a few notes of how you think and feel about succeeding.  Refer back to that mental image frequently! 


To delve more into intensity vs emotion, read Wooden on Leadership, by John Wooden (especially chapter 7).


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