Power Of Passion
Here are some ways you can harness the power of passion to stay focused on achieving your dreams and goals:
1. Focus on That One Thing : You Are Truly Passionate About
Peter G. Peterson is the cofounder and senior chairman of the Blackstone Group, an asset management and financial services company. A graduate of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, Peterson studied under the Nobel Prizewinning economist Milton Friedman. Peterson recalled that Friedman "worshipped free markets and was also a powerful advocate of Adam Smith's concept of comparative advantage: Focus on those things you do better than others. That has been enormously helpful in defining our business strategies."
Peterson recalled that when he and Steve Schwarzrnan founded the Blackstone Group in 1985, many advisers urged them to specialize in acquiring companies through hostile leveraged buyout transactions. But Peterson and Schwarzman refused to go that route. "We felt that our advantage was that we were on friendly terms with many American CEOs and boards," he recalled. "So we took the contrarian position. We would only do strictly friendly investments. As a result, so-called corporate partnerships have become a major foundation – and a very profitable contribution – to our business."
When you know what you do best, when you know what your true passion is, then you know where to focus your energies. You are able to sift through advice from others and sense what advice is good for you and what does not fit. Your passion enables you to focus on what you do best – and a well-targeted focus greatly increases your odds of success.
When Larry Page was a graduate student at Stanford, he wasn't sure what he wanted to do with his life. "I had about ten different ideas of things I wanted to do," he recalls, "and one of them was to look at the link structure of the [World Wide Web]. My advisor, Terry Winograd, picked that one out and said, 'Well, that one seems like a really good idea.'"
And was it a good idea? Well, Page took that idea and used it as the basis for a new concept in Intemet search engines. In 1998, Larry Page cofounded (with his friend Sergey Brin) a company called Google. Perhaps you've heard of it. In fact, if you're like most people, you use the Google search engine dozens of each day. You type in the name of something you're looking for, click the "Search" button, and your results pop up in roughly 12/100ths of a second.
In 2009, Larry Page was listed as the eleventh-richest person in America on the Forbes list of billionaires. How much is Larry Page's annual salary? One dollar a year. The bulk of his wealth comes from Google stock. Yes, focusing on the link structure of the World Wide Web was indeed a very good idea.
2. Seek Out Mentors Who Will Encourage You in Your Passion
Andrea Guerra is CEO of Luxottica, the world's largest maker of eyewear, including sunglasses and prescription frames. He said that when he was a young man, just starting out in the business world with the Marriott hotel chain, his boss told him, "In your first years of business life, you shouldn't go chasing after fancy titles, but try to find people who can teach you something." In other words, seek out mentors.
At the age of nineteen, Pete Sampras startled the world by becoming the youngest men's champion at the 1990 U.S. Open, It takes more than talent to set the tennis world on its ear the way Sampras did. It takes an understanding of the physical, mental, and emotional dynamics of the game – an understanding that usually requires years of intense training and experience. How did Sampras achieve greatness at such an early age?
Sampras grew up in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, and discovered the game of tennis while he was in elementary school. In a profile of Sampras in Investor's Business Daily, writer Michael Mink observed that, for young Sampras, the game of tennis "was his passion right off." When he was in high school, Sampras decided he wanted to be mentored by the best. So at age seventeen, he contacted Czechoslovakian tennis star Ivan Lendl, who was once the number one professional tennis player in the world.
"I stayed at his big, beautiful home in Connecticut," Sampras recalls. "Without saying anything, [Lendl] showed me what it takes to be a champion, how organized he was, how focused he was. That certainly was a good experience for me." The seventeen-year-old Sampras was especially impacted by witnessing Lendl's rigorous work ethic, which included daily thirty-mile bike rides to build his endurance.
Sampras was also mentored by his coach, Tim Gullikson, and by another number one tennis star, Jim Courier. "You take little pieces of the puzzle from everyone," Sampras observes. He was able to go farther, climb higher, and achieve greatness faster than any other player because he was passionate about the game – so passionate that he sought out the best mentors available. These mentors taught him shortcuts that propelled him to his dreams. If you want to go further and get there faster, seek out mentors who can teach you how to leverage your passion into hard work and achievement.
3. Focus on Your Passion, Not on Pleasing Others
Herbert Swope (1882-1958) was a newspaper reporter and editor. He won the first Pulitzer Prize ever awarded for journalistic reporting. He once said, "I cannot give the formula for success, but I can give you the formula of failure – which is to try to please everybody." That's great advice. If you want to succeed in any endeavor, then focus on your passion, not on pleasing other people.
Bob Iger, president and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, received – and offers – the same advice. He recalls, "My father wrote in my sixth-grade yearbook, quoting Harnlet – Polonius to his son, Laertes: 'To thine own self be true.' I was twelve years old, but it had a powerful impression on me then, and I've often thought of it since." That is great success advice: Be true to your dreams, be true to your goals, be true to your values and your character. Don't get caught in the trap of trying to meet everyone else's expectations. Don't waste your life being a people pleaser.
Be true to your own passion, focus on that passion with single minded intensity – and one day you, too, may rule over a Magic Kingdom. To learn more, you can check out Power Of Passion.