Not Business As Usual: Passion draws talent |

Not Business As Usual: Passion draws talent

John Ridell writes a business column and a fun, Zoomer-Boomer outdoor column for the Sky-Hi News.

While the word “passion” has a number of different meanings, when it comes to entrepreneurial success, most view it as a requirement. Yet many are also conflicted in its definition. We often hear the word passion associated with a charismatic leader whose style is portrayed as fiery or combative. From this portrayal and its associated public perception, especially in the area of sports, it is easy to understand why many associate passion with a volume of speech. The danger is associating loudness volume with success. Old stereotypes die hard and I suspect that this image or model may indeed reference a military model where high volume did indeed define many boot camp drill sergeants. This model, with some degree of a field proven track record assumed that proximity of speech combined with loudness would somehow accelerate understanding or learning. Some might even refer to this as education through intimidation.

While this method of communication has its place and certainly its supporters, we all know that today’s business climate with its requirement for talent cannot support such manipulative or intimidating techniques. Yet given the ever increasing competitive nature of virtually every business, talent is more critical today than ever, and talent is drawn to passion. So how might we think of passion in such a way that it meets today’s requirements?

I like to think of passion as that constant source of catalytic energy that stimulates everyone around to do more and better. I’ve witnessed this positive force in people normally described as quiet. I’ve seen it in individuals described as loud. You see it in short people, you see it in tall, male and female, white and black. Outwardly there are no discerning patterns of commonality among such passionate people. Yet inwardly there are three significant commonalities.

The first is that their passion for achieving something is bigger than just desired success for themselves. There is a palpable sentiment when you talk to them that what they are about is important and this importance goes beyond self. The second observation is their willingness to take the time to connect what is important in other’s lives to this importance of the task at hand. There appears to be either a learned or an innate communication skill that requires them to make a sustaining bridge between personal desires and group goals. The third is a level of personal discipline of commitment to results that serves as a multiplying example and positive source of energy for everyone who comes into contact with them.

The interesting part is all of these traits can be developed through personal attention and commitment. Viewed differently, it implies that if you understand the need to be a passionate leader, then this definition of passion removes the “born” part of leader and replaces it with “learned” or “developed.” It allows everyone to be a more effective leader through a conscious program of developing the means to effectiveness.

Think about this approach in an area such as ours that has such a costly shortage of qualified employees. Given that there is little you can do to bring in a significant number of quality employees, maybe you should think about attracting and keeping the best the area has to offer. Your passion might very well be your solution.

Following a successful international business career, John Riddell turned his attention to small business/entrepreneurial pursuits that included corporate turn-arounds, start-ups, teaching as an adjunct business school professor, authoring award winning business and sports columns, and serving as VP for the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce directing its Center for Entrepreneurial Growth. He can be contacted at

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