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Died at 30. Buried at 60.

“Died at 30. Buried at 60.” In fact, death is not the greatest loss in life. If passion dies, is lost or never pursued, something in us will die—in our minds, our hearts and our souls. Have you ever had a friend—perhaps even yourself—where you felt that here is a life wasted? Chances are, if you feel burned out, it is not because of too much work but because you lack purpose and are doing something you do not feel passionate about. If people are on fire, they seldom feel burned out; instead, they energize their talent and consequently achieve excellence.

The ability to pursue one’s aspirations and the idea that anyone can achieve great things is one of the great benefits from living in a democracy. Work is an inescapably necessity, of which we believe one is morally obligated to make the most of. Have you ever believed that one hour of spending your working time at something you love to do can make up for seven hours of so-so work? Well, the high performer does not settle for that; he/she is determined to switch the ratio, making sure that by far the bulk of a working day consists of something meaningful—something they enjoy doing, something they feel passionate about. Additionally, the high performer has a unique ability to make even the most tedious tasks interesting.

Have you ever sat in a workshop with a topic that really did not interest you much? How about when you decided to participate actively and with energy in that same workshop? Somehow, the workshop suddenly seemed a bit more interesting and fun, right? Our working life—also the working life of high performers—will require a proportion of tedious meetings, workshops, tasks, etcetera. However, the high performer will extract elements of those tedious tasks and transform them into something meaningful. They will try to identify small energy pockets within these tasks and put them into meaningful contexts.

On a larger scale, as high performers are determined to lead a passionate, meaningful life, they are also inadvertently inspiring themselves and others. At some point in your life, you have probably felt some level of passionate energy transmitted to you from a person daring to take a leap and following his/her dream. High performers are often able to transmit this passion and energy inspiring others to make their own daring leaps. They are neither people who live in a dream world, nor people who are singularly focused on facing reality; they are—more than anyone else—able to turn one into the other. One of the few common denominators we find for high performers taking it to the top—is passion. It is not talent, it is not intelligence—it is passion. In fact, a passionate person with limited talent will outperform an unenthusiastic person who possesses more talent simply because they cannot stop themselves from trying harder until they succeed.

When working on commercial recruitments—e.g. Sales Director or Business Development Director roles, if candidates are into their commercial function merely to make a day’s living or if they in fact are passionate about their role is quickly revealed. Passionate, commercial high performers are so much into their role that they—often without giving it much thought—know more about the competition than the competitors do themselves, know more about the customers than they sometimes do themselves and are better able to predict future market development than any theoretical analyst. Why? Because they live their role with passion.

In his book “Talent is Never Enough”, John C. Maxwell tells of a study of 1,500 people spanning a period of twenty years substantiating that passion can be a difference-maker (Maxwell, 2007).

The study encompassed two groups of people. Group A—represented by 83% of the sample—being people who were embarking on a career chosen for the prospects of making money now in order to do what they wanted later. The second group—Group B—represented the other 17% of the sample, and encompassed people who had chosen their career path for the reverse reason; they were going to pursue what they wanted to do now—what they were passionate about—and worry about the money later. Here are the results of the study:

  • After 20 years, 101 of the 1,500 people sampled had become millionaires.

  • Of the 101 millionaires, all but one (100 out of 101)—were from Group B, the group that had chosen to pursue what they wanted now—what they were passionate about!

Chances are that what you are passionate about doing, you will probably end up doing well and eventually people will pay you (handsomely) to keep doing it.


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