The Passion Factor
Dear Success Seeker,
I was having dinner with a fellow business coach recently and we were talking about our favorite topic - why some people are highly successful and others aren't. My friend said to me, "Success is not an accident; it always leaves clues." Her offhand comment really struck me and got me thinking about what 'clues' successful people leave. In other words, if we take out our Sherlock Holmes magnifying glasses and examine the lives of those who are highly successful, what qualities and characteristics do they have in common?
Fast forward to last week. I was at a business meeting and was introduced to a long-time entrepreneur and successful real estate investor. He told me that when he was young he played hockey at a very high level and did extremely well. I immediately thought, 'Success leaves clues' so I asked him what qualities he thought were common to all elite athletes. His answer was short and simple. "It takes two things to be a super-successful athlete," he said. "Talent and hard work!"
At first what he said totally resonated with me, not just for athletes but for business success as well. Yet pondering it as I was driving home, it felt like there was still something missing from what he said.
Let's start with talent. A talent is an activity or situation at which you have a natural aptitude. You learn quickly and more easily than others. While others struggle with these activities they are almost effortless to you. You have an instinctive sense of what needs to be done and how to do it.
Of course you already know that talent alone does not guarantee success. You are no doubt aware of many talented people who are failing to achieve their potential in their area of talent. Maybe you fall into that category yourself. Perhaps you lack ambition or maybe you take your talent for granted and can't be bothered to develop yourself fully. Another possibility is that you don't believe you can make a decent living in your area of talent. Whatever the reason, the reality is that most talented people never excel simply because they are not willing to do what it takes to succeed.
Yet hard work alone does not guarantee success either. It is true that by working hard you can surpass most talented people who are not focused. And if you work smart as well as hard, you can do quite well. As Thomas Jefferson said, "I am a great believer in luck. And the harder I work, the luckier I get!" But hard work without talent will never get you to the very top. One problem is that there is no magic, no innate advantage in hard work. If your strategy is to dig deep and work harder than everybody else you will burn yourself out trying to get ahead.
A bigger obstacle is that working hard is easy to say but difficult to do. How do you sustain the motivation required to do the work that needs to be done? Even if you have a deep, burning desire it is difficult to discipline yourself to follow through, especially if you don't enjoy what you are doing.
Pondering this dilemma I identified the missing ingredient. It's passion! When a person is passionate about what they are doing they always have the energy and dedication to do the work required to win - not out of ambition alone but because they love doing it. Think of Wayne Gretzky, Oprah or the late Michael Jackson. You see, when you are passionate, doing what needs to be done does not seem like work at all. It's just what you do. And when you find a person who has passion and natural talent for the same activity, you have the makings of a champion!
So, what can you do with this information? Step one is to make a list of your talents. What are the activities in which you excel? What comes easily and naturally to you? Step two is to make a list of activities you are passionate about. And lastly, put the two lists side-by-side and identify those areas in which you have both talent and passion. I call these your Natural Gifts and they are truly the indicators of where your highest potential for success lies.
You see the ultimate achievers, those who reach the pinnacle of success, have talent AND they do the hard work required because of their passion for the activity. They learn faster than most so they can pull ahead in their chosen profession and, over time, become true masters at what they do. You can become super-successful as well if you identify and follow your Natural Gifts.
Andrew Barber-Starkey, Master Certified Coach
Founder and President, ProCoach Success System
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Andrew Barber-Starkey is a Master Certified Coach residing in Vancouver, Canada. His coaching program, the ProCoach Success System, is designed for entrepreneurs, small-business owners, self-employed and commissioned sales people who want to double their income while simultaneously doubling their time off within 3 years.
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