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Passion

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Do You Have the Heart For It?

Do you have the heart for it?If you were an artist, which would you choose: To create your own unique and inspired works of art (even if it meant scratching a meager living) or bring others’ inspiration to life as a well-paid, commissioned painter? In world of business, each of us makes this choice. The real question is whether you know it or not.

In high school, I was perfectly prepared to launch into a career as a starving artist. I could weave wonderfully twisted stories through oil pastels and water colors, but sadly discovered the business-side of “starving” wasn’t quite as glamourous as I’d expected. While some aspiring young artists make it in the big city, I had a change of heart. I knew it would be a long road to success (if at all), and most artists who could afford to put food on the table were commissioned. In other words, I’d have to paint others dreams to make a decent living.

While youthfully noble, I quickly inventoried my other skills and determined I would fair better in the world of technology — and actually enjoy it. So I pursued another of my goals in tandem and joined the United States Marine Corps. I became expert at  two things:

  1. Expert Rifleman: I was an expert marksman with an M-16 assault rifle, and could put a bullet in a man-size target 500 yards away in a 30 knot wind 9 out of 10 times. (Thankfully, I never had to use this skill in real life).
  2. Expert Technologist: I became expert with all manner of computer technologies, and got to work in some of the most challenging technology environments on the planet. (Thankfully, I got to use this skill a lot in real life).

Over the years, I’ve made my trade as a commissioned painter of sorts, painting beautifully intricate designs with technology for employers and clients alike. I’m especially proud of some of the things I’ve accomplished individually and as part of a larger team. My heart is always beating, leading me to new adventures.

Are You Lost?

I recently heard a speaker say, “The surest way to attract others is with a smile. Why? Because deep down, that lets others know you are passionate about what you do!”

Neither being your own artist nor being a commissioned painter is wrong. But as I look around, I see a world filled with people who want to be artists but are living off of the commission. They are desperately seeking fulfillment in a mismatched existence, falsely living the life of the other sapping their passion and joy. This ultimately leaves them impotent and dissatisfied.

Which choice have you made? Do you have the heart for it?

Are You the Boss?

Every one of your team members wants do good work. Most may not think of themselves as artists or commissioned painters, but that won’t stop you from seeing them this way. Take some time to look at yourself and your team. Seek out your hidden artists who want to be set free to create beautiful things for you and your customers. You may find that you’ve chained some too tightly, while others have unwittingly allowed themselves to become chained as a commissioned painter.

It takes a confident leader to recognize the signs, but it takes a true visionary to help others see the “right choice” in themselves. Do you have the heart for it?

 

Meet Me at the Intersection of Passion and Process

Walking a tightrope over a pit of hungry alligators while juggling flaming torches.

I work in a high-touch, sales-driven, customer-centric industry, company and position. This is the image that sums up my day on average.

How do you deal with a change of direction?

  • Are you the type who quickly loses their temper when the “plan” quickly jumps the tracks, or do you find yourself knuckling down and rowing the rapids?

  • Are you the kind of person who enjoys systems and processes, seeking order in the chaos?

  • Do you look for the edges of the puzzle first and work your way in?

The job is not for everyone, that is for sure. It almost wasn’t for me; Let me tell you, it almost got me.

Who moved my cheese?I spent the formative years of my career in very large organizations – the United States Marine Corps and a manufacturing division of a worldwide company with offices in the US and UK. So one of my employers was the 911 force of the world; I supported a 2000-Marine air group. The other was publicly traded company focused more on providing a 25 cent dividend to its shareholders each quarter than trying to increase revenue. Both were large, impersonal, and riddled with systems and processes just for their own sake.

The owner of my current company hired me some 5 years ago to bring focus to a group in  a company that had been successful “doing it the old school way”. My job was to seed in new ways of doing business while trying to work within the boundaries of almighty “culture”.

My job was to seed in systems and process in a company that ran by the seat of its pants: very little formalized process with lots of gusto and bravado.

I began by trying to hit the wall full-steam-ahead, and got one nasty concussion after another. After 2 years Confusion standing at the cross steetsof hitting my head against the wall, and gaining inches not yards, I sat down. I opened my eyes, ears, and mind to some key mentors and learned how to work within the system.

It began working so well that something odd happened – the fire started to go out. The process began to take over and – where was the passion? Where was the fire in the belly I had loved about the company when I first started? In those years, I discovered that systems and process have their place, but not without passion and commitment to the people around you. In the Marine Corps, we had a saying,

It’s not the Corps that takes care of Marines, it’s the Marine standing next to you that takes care of you – and you that takes care of him.

And then it all began to click…

  • Process is to bring sanity to the confusion, and offer consistency to your customers.

  • Passion is to connect you with each other, and breeds loyalty from customers.

… and it is there where the magic is found – for me – for my company. Each of you may have your own recipe for success, but success for me is at the intersection of passion and process.


Ken Stewart’s blog, ChangeForge.com, focuses on the collision between the constantly changing worlds of business and technology. Ken is also the Director of Technology at Kearns Business Solutions.