“Purpose and passion drive profit, not the other way around.” – Lisa McLeod, Best Selling Author of Leading with Noble Purpose.
Two Stories about Purpose and Passion.
Story 1 – Purpose
One of my favorite stories is about President John F. Kennedy visiting NASA in the early 1960s. He had proclaimed to the world that the United States would put a man on the moon and bring him back safely by the end of the decade. As the story goes, President Kennedy was taking a tour of NASA and stopped and shook hands with people. He shook hands with a custodian and asked, “Sir, what do you do here at NASA?” The gentleman said with great pride, “Mr. President, my job is to help put a man on the moon!”
I love this story because it demonstrates that passion often comes from a sense of purpose which has great meaning to us, no matter the job we may perform. It causes us to care deeply about what we do, go the extra mile, and sustains us during challenging times.
Story 2 – Passion
Several years ago, I had a radio show called “Lessons in Leadership,” where I interviewed high-level leaders from all types of industries. One of my guests was Robin Sheldon, founder of the specialty retail chain Soft Surroundings. The business was a catalog business that Robin started from scratch. In only five years, revenues rocketed to around $100 million. Really impressive. At the time of the interview, Robin was just opening her first retail store. Her accomplishments were awe-inspiring to me. So, I asked her, “What is the secret sauce for the kind of rapid growth you’ve experienced?” She thought for a moment and said, “Passion.”
So, I asked her to tell me more. Robin went on to say that she had a real passion for the business and that the number one quality she looked for in hiring people was passion. “If I do a good job in hiring for passion, I can teach them the business. If we have a secret sauce, passion is it.” That secret sauce led to more growth with the opening of 80 or so retail stores.
So, what is the connection between purpose and passion? Purpose fuels passion. As a result, when we have a sense of purpose in our role in business (and life), it gives us a sense of meaning. It pulls us. Passion is fueled by our sense of meaning and purpose. Passion pushes us to fulfill our purpose. In business and life, there are ups and downs. It’s easy to maintain our passion during the good times when we are winning. During the downtimes, our passion can wane and deplete energy. We’ve all experienced it. That’s when a real sense of purpose can keep pulling us forward because we truly believe what we are doing matters. A helpful practice is to revisit our purpose during the downtimes. I have found it helpful to keep some things in my office that reminds me of my value and why my work matters. Pictures of my family. Videos on my phone of my grandson. A thank you note from a boss, a customer, or a colleague.
Once, completely out of the blue, I received an email from a former colleague named Michael. We had both moved on from the company where we worked together. He went on to work for a large, global delivery company. The message was, “Mark, I wanted to tell you about a leadership workshop I went through with my company. One of the questions the facilitator asked us to think about was what leader in your career had the most influence on you and why? My answer was you, and the why was that you promoted me to my first manager job. You were the first boss I had that really believed in me, which helped me believe in myself.”
I confess to getting a lump in my throat. That was one of those times when my passion was recharged because of a wonderful reminder that what I do as a leader truly matters. When we reconnect with our purpose, passion will catch back up and start pushing us again.
Four questions to ponder:
1. What noble purpose fuels your passion beyond just your day-to-day responsibilities? Take some time to reflect on this question. Record your answers.
2. In what tangible ways does that purpose fuel your passion?
3. As a leader, how do you foster purpose and passion with your people and teams?
4. What connections do you see with purpose, passion and profit?
Consider taking your teams through the exercise of identifying your team or organization’s purpose. It can serve as a source of pride, commitment, and passion. The outcome could be a really inspiring purpose statement that your team members helped create. Involvement creates commitment!
Know this, your leadership matters. Keep learning, growing and developing your leaders!
Dr. Mark Hinderliter works with clients to align their people strategy to their business strategy to attract and retain great people. His experience as a Senior Vice President for a billion-dollar global enterprise along with a Ph.D. in Organization and Management is a unique fusion of real-world experience and academic credentials.
Mark is a Veteran-owned Business Owner and the host of the live stream, “The Retention Advantage.” His LinkedIn profile is https://www.linkedin.com/in/markhinderliter/
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