Finding Your Passion

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While in Italy this past week, I had a great talk with Gary Zelesky. Gary Z is known as the Passion Doctor, and he is an expert at helping people find what they were born to do in life. (Be sure to listen to this week’s podcast for our discussion on finding your passion.) There are a lot of people who don’t know what they were created to do. They do not know why they are here, and they don’t know what they should do with their lives. In our conversation, Gary Z shared the following wisdom about how to find what you were born to do.

How do I discover my passion?

The first way that you discover your passion is to find out what scares you the most. What is the one thing that creates fear in you? Fear has a lot to do with the concept of passion. Many times, people avoid going after their passion because they are afraid. They are afraid of failure, they are afraid of rejection of some kind, or they listen to the voices of many other people. All of these play a role in keeping them from discovering what that one thing is they were created to do. So think of it this way, whatever you fear might be a great clue about the very thing that you are supposed to be doing.

So, if I’m trying to figure out my passion, maybe I should start looking for things that cause me to be afraid?

That is absolutely a great place to start. For instance, my passion is speaking, but my biggest fear is rejection. It is the sense of not being accepted. The irony is the two are really linked. Sometimes the thing that makes you a little afraid, the thing that makes you uncomfortable, may be closer to your passion than you realized.

If I have a fear that is holding me back from my passion how do I get past it?

The only way you break through fear is by knowing what you’re breaking to. Most people don’t break through their fear because they don’t know exactly what the goal is on the other side of that fear. That’s why it’s so important to really know what your passion is.

What is the one thing you would do every single day of your life if you never got paid a dime? What is the thing that fuels you? What is the thing that brings you the greatest joy? I’m not saying ‘happiness’; I’m saying joy because happiness is a result of happenings. Joy is that thing inside of you. It’s not explainable. It’s that time when you have a smile on your face, and you don’t even know why. You need to find out what is the one thing that really fuels you. Define that, go after it, and write it down. Discover what it is, and then begin to pursue it. That action is what moves you through your fear.

If you are undefined in your passion, you are undefined in so many other ways. Business owners frequently try to motivate people through bonuses or a variety of different things. They don’t understand that you can motivate people by the thing that’s inside of them. If you are an owner of a business, understand this. People care about things that they know you care about. So when you care about your employees in a way that’s amazing they’re going to start caring about the things that you care about.

You challenge people to write down 10 things to get them started in the right direction. Why is that?

Most people don’t take the time to write. They don’t understand that once you write something, you can revisit that something. How can you revisit something you’ve never written?

Once you write it, then you revisit it.
Once you revisit it, then you can retool it.
Once you retool it, it can cause a renaissance.

The importance of writing your passions down is that it will give you tremendous focus.

When you start writing, you may have doubts; you may question everything you write. But do it anyway. Once you write these ten things down, let it simmer. Give it a day, and then go back and revisit that list of things that you are passionate about, the things that make you come alive. Then narrow it. Go back and erase, maybe take off five things. When you begin to narrow and define your list, you will be surprised. You will discover some things you never thought were inside of you, but you will know they create a interest for you and a response in you because you wrote them, and you can actually see them on a piece of paper. It is an extraordinary exercise, and will help you discover your own passions.

Many times we don’t even know the passions of the people closest to us. Writing them down as a family, as a team, or as a company can be transforming. It ignites something within us. It helps us visualize our dreams and creates a desire to do something to move us toward those passions.

So use these tips to find your passion, then go out there and do something about it. Just get started. And remember, passion doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be performed.

For more information or to contact Gary Z, visit his website at garyzeleskynow.com

I hope you enjoyed this episode! Please share it with friends and colleagues, or on social media. 

If you liked what you heard, I’d love it if you would leave a five-star review on iTunes here. 

ARE WE THERE YET?

If you want to be a person of greatness, if you want to reach your goals and accomplish remarkable dreams, you must acquire the mental strength and the critical ability to FOCUS.

I am convinced that the only reason people fail is lack of focus in their lives. Listen to me very carefully here. You can set goals. You can map out a plan. You can have great friends. But unless you have focus, you will not achieve those goals and you will not grow stronger. Let me illustrate this with a road trip. 

What if you and three friends plan to go on a week-long road trip? You decide to leave Monday morning. Everyone shows up with their travel bags, and you get into the car.  Where are you going? Well, one of your friends packed for cool weather, so you decide to head north. What are you going to see? That has not been decided. When will you get there? No one is sure. How will you know you have arrived? This may be a long trip...

If you have no plan and are not focused on a destination, just anywhere will do. But when you get to the end of the week, what have you accomplished? You may be better friends (you may not!), you may have seen a lot of country, you may have eaten well, but without a destination – without a focus – you have spent a week just wandering around the country, burning up gasoline! 

You know many people – good people – who treat life the same way. They start out with an idea to just do something fun in life – something they enjoy. But without a clear destination – without focus – they spend years wandering about. They may try something new for a while, then when that gets old, move on to yet another something. They may make resolutions – only to break them within three weeks and make them again. They move, they change, and inevitably, they follow - and spend their whole lives following…following someone else with a clearly defined plan.

You will not become a person of greatness or have controlled internal strength unless you have a life of focus. 

Successful people are not necessarily more powerful nor do they have more opportunity than unfocused people. In fact, it is often the opposite. But because they are focused, these people are able to squeeze more effectiveness from themselves than their counterparts, who are not focused. In fact, for the most part, highly successful people are just average people with a focus.  They have learned to hone in upon a specific target and to expend all their internal efforts to push their lives forward toward a clearly defined purpose.

Focus equals direction. Focus also equals power and strength because focus allows you to take what you have in hand and concentrate your limited resources toward reaching one certain goal. Focus makes you more efficient and more effective.

So, how do you focus?  How do you zero in on what is critical?  How do you keep from being turned aside by all the distractions we find in the normal course of our everyday lives? 

Here are three steps I believe will help you achieve focus:

1.     Control your thoughts. 

The passions that are strongest in our heart become the thoughts that are at the forefront and are most prevalent in our mind. Then the thoughts that are most prevalent in our mind become the forces that dominate our lives. 

The way to achieve focus it to learn to control your thoughts. Your mind must be focused before your life will be focused.  The first way to start this is continually return to your Goal thoughts. When you know what you want in life, when you know what type of person you want to be, and when you know what you want to accomplish, you have Goal thoughts. These thoughts are ones that support your life goals and plans. Whenever your mind starts to wander down an unnecessary path, make an immediate and intentional effort to return to your Goal thoughts.   

The apostle Paul wrote to the people of Philippi the perfect advice for mental focus. He said, “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Our thoughts are what drive our lives. Frank Outlaw said it well: 

Watch your thoughts; they become words.

Watch your words; they become actions.

Watch your actions; they become habits.

Watch your habits; they become character.

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

Controlling the direction your thoughts is the first step toward a focused life.

2.     Trade in your ‘busyness’ for effectiveness. 

On the surface, being busy may look the same as being focused.  But being focused has nothing to do with being busy, and being busy has nothing to do with being focused. 

Focused people spend the majority of their productive time thinking about, and participating in, activities directly connected to their destinies. Busy people divide their productive energies among a multitude of activities that have nothing to do with their passions or dreams. 

No great person ever became great by wasting time.  Concentrate your best time and attention on the most important goals in your life.  Evaluate your time. Where do you spend your hours? Are you focused on what moves you forward, or are you busy doing a little bit of this and a little of that, on things that are not truly important? Every day should bring you one step closer to your dream.

3.     Finally, focus on your strengths.

What are your strengths?  What has God uniquely designed you to accomplish?  What energizes you and is the one thing that you are compelled to do?  When you know your strengths and talents, you will know your areas of focus. 

If you truly want to be great, you must focus your limited time and resources upon that sole passion that deserves your time and your life. 

You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.  You need to focus.

Focus will put you on the path to greatness and focus will help you make the rest of your life the best of your life.

I hope you enjoyed this episode! Please share it with friends and colleagues, or on social media. 

If you liked what you heard, I’d love it if you would leave a five-star review on iTunes here. 

DO YOU HAVE IT?

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It is essential for every leader.
It cannot be bought.
It cannot be delegated.
It is recognized across all cultures, races and eras.
It is wholly unassociated with economic status.
It is the ultimate measure of a person of greatness.

Although many people struggle to completely define integrity, most everyone can recognize it. You know someone you trust completely. You know someone whose word is their bond. You know someone who would not compromise. You know someone who would tell the truth, would stand by their promises, and would keep their agreements, even when it hurt them. Integrity is doing the right thing. The question we all ask ourselves is, “Are we that ‘someone’ other people think of when asked to name a person of integrity?”

Dwight D. Eisenhower said,
“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”

Today, I want us to take a look at practical integrity. The following self-test has five questions to ask yourself. You must answer the questions honestly and transparently. It is not about perfection. It is not about comparison. Integrity is personal. If, as you read the following questions, you begin to think that your initial personal integrity evaluation was perhaps optimistic, do not despair. Integrity is built over a lifetime of doing the right thing. Appreciate that your attention has been drawn to these areas and let it make your future decisions more considered and intentional.

How would you react in the following scenarios?

1. You have just heard an extremely compromising—but unfounded—bit of information about the guy at your office who has the position you desire. Should he move on, you have a very strong possibility of being promoted to his position. This move would almost double your current salary. Furthermore, you have never liked the guy. Do you casually share the gossip?

2. You were delayed at the office, then you were stuck in traffic for an extra 45 minutes, and you have a dinner engagement that is pressing. As you walk in the door, the phone rings and your teen says, “It’s for you. It’s that insurance guy that talks forever!” You say, “Just tell him I was delayed, and I’m not home yet.” Yes or no?

3. You have a small team of direct reports, and you are responsible for their reviews, salary raises and bonus amounts. Last year, you told your sales guy that if he doubled his sales, you would double his bonus. To your surprise, he showed up at today’s review with a documented increase in sales of twice his number from the previous year. Although you clearly have not kept up with his monthly sales, you do know that the bonus amount you were allocated is not enough to cover his increase without decreasing your own. Do you explain that you are delighted with his work, promise great things in his future, and give him a moderate increase? Or do you keep your word and double his bonus, even though you are personally left with a fraction of what you had anticipated?

4. On your way back to the office from an early meeting, you stop for coffee. The line is long, and by the time you have your latte, you sincerely wish you had opted for the drive through. You hand the barista a $20, and she gives you change. As you are leaving, you realize that instead of giving you a $10 and change, she mistakenly gave you a $20 and change. Do you go back to return the extra $10, or do you consider it your lucky day? After all, you did have to wait!

5. Your child desperately wants to play in the city soccer league, and the teams are based on your geographic location. The team roster for your area is full, but the team where your sister lives has one remaining opening. Do you put her address on the application as your own so your child can play soccer this year?

You may have discovered some surprising things about yourself as you read those scenarios.

Integrity is a quality of being—not of doing—but the great paradox is that integrity is completely based on what one does. It has been said that unless a leader has integrity, they are just a manager. This statement may be viewed through many lenses, but certainly, the true determination of a leader is in the loyalty of his followers. To create that willingness to follow, integrity is indeed essential.

Integrity is doing the right thing, every time. It is being upstanding and honorable. Great people have integrity. This means they will do exactly what they say they will do. Circumstances may change. New situations may arise. The agreement may no longer be beneficial. Nevertheless, the person of greatness will keep his word. He will not compromise his principles for convenience or advantage. What about you? Do you have it? Are you a person of integrity?

I hope you enjoyed this episode! Please share it with friends and colleagues, or on social media. 

If you liked what you heard, I’d love it if you would leave a five-star review on iTunes here. 

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WOULD YOU RATHER BE GREAT OR FAMOUS?

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Would you rather?  It’s a game we’ve probably all played – if you have kids, you surely play it often!  It‘s a great car game…

  • Would you rather eat potato chips or French fries?
  • Would you rather sky dive or scuba dive?
  • Would you rather be wealthy and sick or healthy and broke?

Today, I have a “would you rather” question for all of you: Would you rather be GREAT or would you rather be FAMOUS?

When we consider famous people, several descriptions come to mind:

  • They are well-known
  • They usually have money – lots of money!
  • People flock to them and want to be near them

Perhaps they are famous because of an ability – acting, or sports… 

Maybe they are famous because of their family – for example, the Kennedy family or the Kardashian family.

Sometimes people are famous because of their looks, their title, their position. People can be famous for many reasons, but what about GREAT people? What are the attributes and characteristics that make someone great?

Greatness is not performance-based. Greatness it is not what someone DOES, but rather what someone IS.

Greatness is an internal quality; it is a heart condition. Greatness is never self-focused, instead, it is always centered on the good of others. It’s very easy to become distracted by self-promotion and a desire to be elevated, but that is not the heart of greatness. This story spotlights that point.

Once upon a time there was a king who ruled over everything in the land. One day there was a gardener who grew an enormous carrot. He took it to his king and said, “My lord, this is the greatest carrot I’ve ever grown or ever will grow; therefore, I want to present it to you as a token of my love and respect for you.”

The king was touched and discerned the man’s heart, so as he turned to go, the king said, “Wait! You are clearly a good steward of the earth. I want to give a plot of land to you freely as a gift, so you can garden it all.”

The gardener was amazed and delighted and went home rejoicing. But there was a nobleman at the king’s court who overheard all this, and he said, “My! If that is what you get for a carrot, what if you gave the king something better?”

The next day the nobleman came before the king, and he was leading a handsome black stallion.

He bowed low and said, “My lord, I breed horses, and this is the greatest horse I’ve ever bred or ever will; therefore, I want to present it to you as a token of my love and respect for you.”

But the king discerned his heart and said, “Thank you,” and took the horse and simply dismissed him. The nobleman was perplexed, so the king said, “Let me explain. That gardener was giving me the carrot, but you were giving yourself the horse.”

Many times, we want a shortcut to greatness, but it is not a prize that is given or a position that can be awarded. Greatness is an internal quality that is developed throughout life. Let me give you three touchstones of greatness in a person:

1.     Great people have accomplished the purposes for which they were designed.

Every person is born with a seed of greatness. It’s your choice whether or not you will grow and develop that seed into a full, impactful life or chose an average existence.

Each of you can think of someone you knew when you were young that had great talent, or great opportunities, or great options and possibilities, but they never reached their potential. I remember a kid in my class in high school. He was smart, good-looking, athletic, funny – people loved being around Charles. But Charles never really had goals. He walked on a college football team, and walked back off. He went to the University for a couple of years, but never finished. He played around with a boating company, but never got it off the ground. The last I heard from Charles, he was working in California, making ends meet, and still waiting for his big break. He had the skills, he had the opportunity, and he’s had almost 30 years to set himself apart, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Now, some of you know a Charles, and some of you may relate very closely to Charles yourself. Hear me carefully. You were born with a seed of greatness and it is never too late to be great. Begin today – right now. 

  • Decide you want more for your life.
  • Discover what you were designed to do – what it is that makes you come alive.
  • Start doing it.

Great people accomplish the purpose they were designed to achieve.

2.     Great people have developed traits and qualities that distinguish and differentiate them from others.

I want to make a very important point here. The traits of greatness are not automatic. Great people pursue and develop these traits. It’s not that some people get them and others don’t. It’s not that some are lucky and others are unlucky. These traits are intentionally studied, integrated, groomed, and practiced in the lives of great people.

Among many others, these traits include determination, integrity, courage, persistence, passion, wisdom and generosity. We have discussed several of these qualities previously on this blog, and we can never hear them enough. Over the next few weeks, we will look at more of these traits of greatness, and we will see how our mindset about these qualities must be aligned as we pursue an uncommon life.

3.     The third touchstone of greatness is great people positively affect and impact the lives of other people.

Your first reaction may be, of course, great people will mentor, will employ, will influence, and will better the lives of those around them. This is true. Great people will certainly do all that, but great people will also lift up the people around them daily. Greatness is not some mountaintop goal; greatness is lived out in everyday relationships.

Life is not lived in a vacuum. We all interact with others, and all of our interactions will fall in one of three categories.

1.     People are uplifted and our time with them is remembered pleasantly and positively, even if it was just paying for a cup of coffee.

2.     The interaction was neutral, perhaps transactional or isolated. You may have been introduced to someone at a party and immediately their attention was pulled elsewhere. Neutral contact.

3.     People are harmed or hurt or diminished in some way by our interface. This is very unfortunate, and very preventable. You control you. If you choose to blunder through life, expecting people to understand that you are busy, you are stressed, you are overwhelmed, you are needy, you are the one that should be getting the attention - then you have missed it, and you have missed out. Great people see others. Great people listen to others. Great people put others first. This quality is a touchstone of greatness.

Another facet of greatness is this: Great people inspire and motivate us to pursue greatness in our own lives.

When you are around someone who is great, you want more. You want more of that calmness, that certainty, that love for others, that focus, and that dependability. You want to be like them. Great people inspire us to do great things and to be better people.

Greatness is achievable. YOU can be great. You can accomplish your purpose, you can acquire and develop the traits of greatness, and you can lift up other people as you go through life. Great people live life differently, and great people do so intentionally.

So, would you rather be GREAT or would you rather be FAMOUS?

I hope you enjoyed this episode! Please share it with friends and colleagues, or on social media. 

If you liked what you heard, I’d love it if you would leave a five-star review on iTunes here.