Could The Group of Seven have painted their beautiful landscapes, or Andrew Lloyd Webber written his operas without feeling passion for what they were doing? Would Terry Fox have run that distance, if he were not passionate about raising money for cancer research?
Do you remember the excitement you felt when you first opened your practice? Did you enjoy going to work each day? Did each new patient who signed on make you feel an unparalleled sense of pride, and a belief that you were going to provide him/her with excellent results? When you love what you do, it is something to look forward doing each day. You may have experienced periods where you are bored, or disappointed with your work. You may feel that you are not achieving the goals that you set out to. You may feel overwhelmed that your life is not as balanced as you would like it. It is easy to get into a downward descent. A commitment to yourself to reconnect with your passion, and to change your attitude is a choice that you are free, and able to make. If you are passionate about your work, you will throw yourself into it, do it better and enjoy it more. It makes a difference when one discovers passion for the work.
If people were asked to define passion, many descriptive words would emerge, such as: energy, fuel, fire and heat. Passion arouses; it is a strong desire, an “infectious enthusiasm”. It is a feeling, not a thought. It is needed to realize goals, motivate yourself and others, and achieve success. It is critical as a leadership quality, since a leader who is passionate, and who can infect others with it, will no doubt inspire her/his people to accomplish, and to get results.
Although some people are born with an ability to thrill easily and are naturally enthusiastic, I really believe that you can learn to be passionate, much the same as you would learn anything else. We all are capable of feeling it, once we know how to uncover it, identify and connect with it. There is an old saying, “When the pupil is ready, the teacher appears.” There are no magic elixirs, all that is required, is a commitment to learn and to make passion a habit. As with anything else that you choose to learn, you must persist at it. Not everyone is born a Tiger Woods, but there are a lot of people who have discovered a passion for golf, and they persevere at becoming excellent at it (not to mention that they can’t bear the humiliation of playing poorly). You can only control one thing in life, and that is your attitude. Choose to improve.
How then, does one embark on one’s own leadership quest to discover and reconnect with one’s passion? Here are some suggestions.
1) Write down what moves you, what you love doing and what gets your juices flowing! You will be surprised at how much easier it is to focus, when you clarify something by writing it down.
2) If you can’t find something in your present experiences, run re-runs in your mind of things that you loved at some point in your life. Focus on the feelings that these memories evoke and think of a touchstone that will help you call up this passion.
3) Ask yourself what you can do to create new challenges and how you can meet them. Keep these goals realistic.
4) Make a concerted effort to notice how successful people with different personalities express passion. Model that behaviour. You can express enthusiasm in whatever manner you are comfortable with.
5) Focus on how you feel when you accomplish something. Remember that pleasure.
6) Commit to practicing passion, so that it becomes a habit.
7) Ask yourself how you can inspire others with your energy. For instance, are your staff getting along well with each other, and supporting each other whenever possible?
Consider whether there are issues that you can address and perhaps resolve for them which demonstrates your interest in their welfare and success, not just yours. Sometimes, making a few minor adjustments can make a huge difference. Consider how you might contribute to making the environment a “thinking and caring one.” Think carefully about this. The environment is the physical design of the space in which you work, and also the pulse of the people who work there Send one of your employees on a course, cater in lunch, hire a massage therapist to give your staff back rubs.
There are so many ways to show people they are valued, and the money spent, will produce dividends! Patients notice where there is a focus on excellence, and an atmosphere that is pleasant and comforting. They notice when staff appear to be enjoying what they do. They also notice not only competent results, but a genuine concern and care about their health. Be passionate about giving each patient what he/she needs. Listen to your staff, and to your patients. John Maxwell, the author of several texts on leadership says, “Though you cannot go back and make a brand new start my friend, anyone can start from now, and make a brand new end.”
Maureen Bogoroch-Ditkofsky, BCL, LLB, is an author, corporate consultant and leadership skills trainer.