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You Can’t Fake Passion

You Can’t Fake Passion

I just attended a fantastic event in New York City led by a number of very bright people in the publishing and promotion world. After an evening of great material, each panelist was asked to provide one final piece of advice. Matt Holt, publisher for the Business Division at Wiley, said that he looks for authors who are completely committed to their books and to making them a success. If an author does not believe passionately in the value of his or her book, why would anyone pay $20 to read what he or she has to say?

This quote reminded me of the fact that the one thing you can’t outsource, synthesize, or fake is true passion. The biographer Robert Caro states that when Lyndon Johnson was Senate Majority Leader and had a new piece of legislation he wanted to push through, he would go into his office and repeat to himself – repeatedly and out loud – all the reasons why this legislation was the right thing to do. He would literally work himself into a passionate furor, and he did this so often that his staff had a name for it. Johnson is “winding himself up” again, they would say.

Johnson did this because he knew that it was impossible to sell something without believing in it completely and passionately. Music producers will tell you that in this digital age they can synthesize almost any musical element they want except for emotion. If artists can’t or won’t sing from the heart, and if they are unable or unwilling to connect with their audience emotionally through their music, no amount of post-production work can instill heart into a song.

Performance Principle: You can’t fake passion. You have to look at your work and your product and figure out how to get some passion for what you do every day. Good work alone is not enough to grow your customer base or expand your “following.” No one can or should care more about your work than you do. If you’re not passionate about what you do, how can you expect customers or others to commit their money and attention to your products or services?

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Do your customers feel your passion for what you sell, or do they sense you are just going through the motions?
  • Does your team know that you have a gut-level excitement for what you are doing?
  • Do you have a vision for your work that goes beyond the day-to-day tasks that you complete every day?

Often, regaining passion for our work does not require changing what we do. Rather it means shifting how we view what we do. If you are in the insurance business, you don’t just sell insurance – you help people provide for the financial security of their families. If you are in the hotel business, you don’t just rent rooms – you help others get business done. If you are in the consulting business, you don’t just sell billable hours – you help people build great businesses. This kind of perspective helps you to regain your passion by viewing your current business through a new lens.

So, get away from the daily grind of work and think big and strategically about your business. You can schedule a weekend strategy retreat with your team. When I lead these sessions for clients, I often find that people emerge re-energized about their business. Or, maybe you just need to take that vacation you have been putting off. Finally, you can schedule a trip to New York City, hang out with some great people, and find some time to think – really think – about your business. It worked for me.

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