Category Archives: Passion

Delivering Happiness

When I get time to read again, one of the first books on my list is “Delivering Happiness”, by Zappos founder, Tony Hsieh.  Also on that list will be several of the books in the presentation below.

Maybe there’s a few here for you too.  I’ve only read some of these, so can’t vouch for them all, but anyone who is as obsessed with team and customer happiness as Tony seems to be, must be at least a better-than-average judge of on-topic reading material.


Ruth Chang: How To Make Hard Choices

This TED talk is worth watching repeatedly, until you get it all the way through to your soul.


If that made sense, these might too:

I = Choice

You Are Your Will


4 Indispensable Principles for Good Leadership

PEOPLE TALK ABOUT having “principles”, but few seem to be guided by their principles consistently, because it’s just too easy to make exceptions.  The thing is, if you don’t follow your principles in every case, they’re not principles.

Understood and accepted as non-violable, your principles become your “rock” – a steadfast guide to action even when circumstances are difficult, conflicting, or hard to discern.  Good leaders, and good people, understand this; they know that sticking to the right principles is indispensable to success, and therefore also to happiness.

Here’s four principles that all good leaders, (and good people, for that matter,) stick to.

#1 My Judgement Rules
Good leaders (and good people) know that they are always fully accountable for what they do, so they never relinquish judgement to others.  Sure, they listen, take advice, learn from others, and consult.  What they don’t do, however, is take another’s word, opinion, dictate, or judgement as given.  Never.  To put it another way:  “The buck stops here, so you better @#$%-well know the real buck inside and out”.

Example:  Steve Jobs in any number or situations springs to mind.

#2 Good Relationships Depend on Justice
Good leaders (and good people) understand that only relationships based on justice will thrive.  To deal with people justly means to always and only give (and accept) what is deserved.  To withhold praise and reward from those who add value is just as bad as bestowing the same on those who do not, or on those who, even worse, destroy value.

The latter is called “spoiling”, and as Rand once pointed out, there’s no quicker and surer way to destroy a human soul than to give it more than it deserves.  Conversely, withhold  reward from those who’ve rightly earned it, and they’ll not be around for long.  They’ll go where their talent is recognized and valued, and righty so.

Example:  The “brain drain” from any number of politically stifling (and unjust) nations to the freer countries in “The West”.

And while we’re on the subject, let’s dispel a couple of widely held (and very unjust) bromides (anti-principles, if you will):  “Unconditional Love” and “Universal Forgiveness“.

Good leaders (and good people) understand that those who demand “unconditional love” are asking you to commit fraud.  Love is simply one end of the scale that measures how you value something or someone (hate → dislike → ambivalence → like → love).  Your emotional response to anything or anyone needs to be just, that is, needs to be in keeping with how much you value (or disvalue) the thing or person.  To give love “unconditionally”, is to disregard justice.  Do so at your own peril.

Forgiveness has it’s place, of course, but also needs to be just.  The guilty must earn forgiveness.  How?  Three things:  They must show sincere contrition (simply saying “sorry” is not enough), they need to make good on the damage they did, and they should make a binding commitment to doing better from now on.  Forgiving someone, “just because”, is unfair on, and bad for, both of you.

Now, back to organizational leadership…

Organizations, by definition, rely on relationships, so its critical that justice is the principle that drives the relationships.  So many organizations founder because dysfunctional (unjust) relationships tie them in knots.  Jealousy, envy, favoritism, obsequiousness, sociopathy, and a host of other organization ills thrive because justice is absent.  Incompetents with connections wield power, talent languishes or leaves, obsequious sycophants who look good in a suit keep the corner offices warm, and fraudsters with acting skills line their pockets.  Absent justice, relationships are based on all manner of pretense.  In that kind of culture, all sorts of crap can grow.

Example:  Too many to mention.  How about Enron?  Bear Stearns?  Penn State?

#3 Learning Never Stops and Comes From Anywhere and Everywhere
With this principle firmly understood and integrated, you’re open to expanding your horizons every day, every hour, every minute.Learning is Joy

Yet, how many managers, bosses, parents, or acquaintances do you know who seem to think that they know everything already?  Ugh, the dreaded “know it all”….deal with that kind as little as you can, they’re a vexation to your soul!

Example?  I bet you have a dozen such people in your life.  Name one.

#4 Be Passionate
Whatever you do, give it 100% of your attention and effort.  If you can’t, or worse, won’t, don’t do it.

Passion does not mean “loving” what you do.  It means “valuing” what you do.  Hopefully, most of the time it is about love and enjoyment, but don’t forget that some things that are not fun still need 100% or your focus and your best effort; because they’re worth it.  George Washington no doubt hated that winter at Valley Forge, but his passion for the fledgling America held strong, guiding him through times and circumstances that would have driven a non-principled, dispassionate man to give up.

*   *   *   *   *

Principles are not for “now and then”.  And they are not just for titled-leaders.  It is not a coincidence that the fundamental principles that make for good organizational leaders also make for good human beings.  That’s why Method Leadership is based on them, and why they’re on our masthead.

Think.  Engage.  Learn.  Value.

*   *   *   *   *

Michael Paul Jährling

You Are Your Will

THE best leaders are self made.  They strive to be the best they can be.  One of my favorite organizational leaders, John Allison, worked his way up from rank & file employee to CEO of BB&T.  In each position he held, he committed himself to being the best possible exemplar of that role.  He made it his mission to understand what would constitute the best for each role then set out to achieve it.

The best leaders recognize that merit (or its lack) is the only criteria by which they judge themselves and others.  Sex, skin color, body type, and race are all irrelevant.  As Martin Luther King put it, people should “…not be be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”.

And that, the content of your character, your self image, your value as a human, to yourself and to others, should be defined by your purpose and your modus operandi, not by your affiliation to a race, a political ideology, or a football team.

And that’s where your will comes in.  You, that conglomerate of values, ideas, opinions, feelings, emotions, prejudices, memories, and tastes, are under your own control.  You have the power to shape your character, and therefore your destiny.  Abdicate the responsibility of control, and you’ll be a product of whatever you were born with and what your environment makes of you.  Chose to exercise your will, and you can be the person you admire most.

Taking the lead starts with activating your mind.  The first person you need to lead is you.

It’s All About You

Stop worrying about other people.

Okay, your spouse, your kids, your family, the people you love, the people you’re responsible for, them you can look out for. Apart from them though, just worry about you.

Your primary job is to make you happy. Whatever it takes, without infringing on anyone else.

Your one overriding goal, is to die happy.  And nobody can do it for you.

That’s all.

What will it take?

What method will you use?

Engagement. What’s the critical factor?

ENGAGEMENT has become somewhat of a buzz-word.  Getting employees to “engage” means a happier, more productive, more committed, and, hopefully, a more innovative workforce.  So goes the mantra, and it’s true.

Here’s the thing though: engagement is the default setting for humans.  Human’s have evolved a phenomenal capacity to know reality; to focus, to think, to reason, to make choices, to act.  In short, humans are made to engage.

Many of us though, unfortunately, are switched off, or, at best, on auto pilot.  We’re disengaged.  Coasting.  Drifting.

It starts with a truly awful education “system” compelling conformity, favoring rote over critical thinking, and rife with peer pressure and social politics.  Going with the flow is the path of least resistance.

challengeAdd the constant drumming of mass media entertainment, and, it must be said, the “spoiling” that comes with the physical ease of western civilization, which is wholly taken for granted, and it’s no wonder people motor-down.  If you don’t need it, you don’t use it.  If you don’t use it, you lose it.

All this points to a critical fact that needs to be considered in any initiative or effort to engage employees.

Any ideas?

UPDATE:  See here.

How do you find your Passion?

“Do what you love.”

“Find your Passion.”

“Find something that makes you leap out of bed in the morning, eager to get to work.”

How many times have we heard these and similar exhortations to find and do what we love, what makes us happy?

Good advice?  Yes, but its not that simple.

If like some lucky souls you’ve known from an early age what you want to do in life, well and good.  Bill Gates was enchanted by computers in his early teens.  Rand knew she wanted to be a writer from age eight.  Tiger Woods had a golf club in his hands from age three.  But what if that one defining passion did not, or has not, revealed itself?

Don’t worry.  Most of us are in this boat.

The trouble with the types of exhortations I quoted at the outset is that they create the false impression that “out there” somewhere is the one thing you were destined to do, if only you could just find it.  That, in short, is nonsense.

To have passion for something means to value it highly.

Does that mean that there’s one thing, one pursuit, one career, that you are destined for?  No.

Does that mean you’re excited by that which you’re passionate about?  Yes, but not always.

Does that mean that pursuing your passion is always enjoyable?  No.  Good things take time and effort, and sometimes entail challenge, frustration, and struggle.

To be passionate in life simply means to be strongly committed to and highly value whatever you undertake.  It means that you’ll do whatever it takes to pursue your goals.  It means you’ll persevere when the going is tough.

Yes, you should love what you do, but don’t expect that love to suddenly jump up and say “here I am”.  It might, but it might not.

To be passionate in life simply means to be strongly committed to and highly value whatever you undertake.

Have you ever fallen in love at first sight?  Did it last?  Maybe, maybe not.  Sometimes the enchantment we feel at the outset dims as we get to know more about something, when we deepen our knowledge and experience.

But the reverse is also true.  More often our love for something grows as we gain in experience, knowledge, skill.  This is especially true of professional pursuits; of work.

Work, or any activity really, is most enjoyable when it puts you in “Flow”, that state where your full consciousness is dedicated to what you’re doing.  All distractions fall away in the face of a single and all-consuming purpose.  Time passes unnoticed.

The ability to be in a state of Flow comes most often with mastery.  When you’re are so good at something that it is almost second-nature; you don’t think, so much as do and react from intuition.

But getting to mastery takes time.  Some suggest 10,000 hours of practice as a rule of thumb.

And this is the key to passion.

Being in the enviable position of absolutely loving what you do takes effort, over time and in the face of obstacles.  Some people are fortunate in that they start so young with some pursuit that they’re “masters” at a very young age, routinely getting into “flow”, enjoying immensely what they do, and, of course, passionate about it.  Don’t assume for a minute though that there weren’t thousands of hours of struggle, frustration, and persistent effort to reach that point.

For many of us, most probably, we don’t start on the road to mastery at a young age.  Worse, often we fall into a pursuit (a career) that perhaps does not suit our natural inclinations; for the wrong reasons, like parental pressure or a focus on remuneration above creativity.

Then, trying something new, making a change, taking a new fork in the road is difficult, seemingly dangerous, especially because you can’t be sure at the outset whether your new pursuit is the right one.  Sometimes you have to “suck it and see”.

Now, in making decisions about career, “suck it and see” might seem like flippant advice.  That’s where tools such as “Pathfinder” and “I Could Do Anything If I Knew What It Was” come in.  The value of these types of tools is in narrowing your field of choices.  They help you to identify where your natural abilities and existing talents lie.  They cannot, and should not, get you to your “One True Passion”.  And that would be too limiting anyway.

At this time in history we are blessed with a wealth of choices.  I think it’s realistic to suggest that in a fifty year “working life” you could have several “careers”.  The tools available to us to learn, to develop, to improvise, to build, to communicate, to partner, to market, to lead, are varied and vast, and all a mouse-click away.  There is time in one life, and resources a plenty, to pursue multiple goals, causes, passions.

But remember, passion does not always signify enjoyment.

Did Lincoln “enjoy” fighting for the cause of liberty, in the name of which he faced unthinkable decisions and seemingly insurmountable obstacles?  Probably not.  But he did value that cause as greater than any other single thing in his life at that time, and he dedicated every ounce of his strength and ability to seeing slavery abolished and justice for all enshrined in law.  He was passionate about it.

Did Washington “enjoy” leading the Continental Army through that terrible winter at Valley Forge, where thousands died and all faced miserable conditions and a seemingly hopeless future?  Unlikely.  But he knew that the cause was just and that death was the only option other than victory.  You can’t get much more passionate than that.

Being in the enviable position of absolutely loving what you do takes effort, over time and in the face of obstacles. 

If you love what you do you will be passionate about it, no doubt.  But to be passionate also means having the determination and strength to face down and break through any obstacle in pursuit of a worthy goal; to struggle and remain focused on achieving mastery over time; to value your values strongly, giving your all to achieve and protect that which you love, that which you can be passionate about.