We talked about the makings of a great leaders this week. The discussion started with an examination of James Kouzes and Barry Posner’s list of “Ten Truths About Leadership.” The truths they list are helpful but not surprising. They mention things like believing in yourself, building credibility, developing relationships, sticking to you values, etc. As we talked through each truth, sharing stories of triumph and failure, people began to point out some threads that seemed to weave their way through the list. Growth mindset (this has been a refrain for me recently) leaves it mark on most of the truths, as we have to keep working, learning, and getting better at the essentials of leadership.
And then there is passion. The tenth truth is that, “Leadership is an affair of the heart” and the article closes with the simple line, “You just won’t work hard enough to become great if you aren’t doing what you love.” Do what you love to do. Let your passion drive your work. We read it. We sat with it for a minute. And then someone asked, “So, what’s your passion?”
The question hung there for a while. A few of us offered some answers but I’m not sure if our answers really acknowledged the weightiness of the question. If my passion should be shaping what I do, and in some ways who I am, the question, “what’s your passion?” matters a great deal. It’s absolutely critical. When I setup my blog and twitter profiles several years ago, I added this quick bio: “I’m passionate about my family, fitness, health and nutrition, technology, and teaching.” I felt like it made sense at the time but it doesn’t really cover it. When the question came up this week, I said something like, “I’m passionate about learning and inspiring others to learn and grow.” That doesn’t really cover it either, though.
Yes, it’s family. Yes, it’s learning. Yes, it’s technology and health. But it doesn’t stop there. I’m also passionate about creativity. I’m passionate about thinking differently about a problem and trying to conceive new solutions. I’m passionate about education – I think it has the power to make the world a better place. I’m passionate about telling good stories. I’m passionate about thinking deeply and pushing others to do the same. Can it be all of those things and more?