The relationship between passion and success

By Gale Mote / Guest Editorial

After one of my training sessions this past week, a participant asked to visit with me about my work. She was interested in public speaking, training and consulting. I asked her about her motivation for entering into the field. She replied how she wanted to have a job with less stress and more flexibility.

I paused before I responded because there was one word I was hoping to hear or feel and didn’t: passion. If she would have started out by saying, “I get absolutely pumped when I am able to help someone develop stronger relationships with their peers” or “When I’m mentoring someone, the time just flies by” I might have been more encouraged.

It’s amazing to me the number of people who look at a job because of its characteristics and say “I would like to do that” instead of looking into their hearts to ask “What energizes me, captures my attention and kindles my excitement?” Any job, any role performed with passion will lead to more success and happiness.

In his book, “The Passion Plan,” Richard Chang defines passion as personal intensity, an underlying force that fuels our strongest emotions. Our passions are activities, ideas and topics that elicit these emotions. He goes on to offer a model for higher success and fulfillment, start with the heart, discover your passions, clarify your purpose, define your actions, perform with passion, spread your excitement and stay the course.

Reflecting on my career as a trainer, now approaching a quarter of a century, I can relate to this model and his belief that “passion is not a privilege of the fortunate few; it is a right and a power that we all possess.” People often refer to my “energy” when evaluating my sessions. Based on my own experience, here are some tips on how to find and fuel your passion.

First, identify and focus on your strengths. Gallup Corp. defines a person’s strength as “a talent honed and refined with practice, skills, knowledge and experience resulting in consistent, near perfect performance of an activity.”

Author Marcus Buckingham suggests that for two to three weeks, you should keep two notepads close to where you work and live. One notepad should say “I loved it” and the other should say “I loathed it.” You know you are engaged in activities that strengthen you when time flies by, you can’t wait to do them again, you learn quickly when developing related skills and most importantly, they leave you feeling energized, fulfilled and happy.

After you have collected the data, focus on finding more and more opportunities to engage your strengths, doing those things you love. Then continue to devote time investing in those talents to gain more knowledge and refine those skills.

My strengths are training adults on how to work effectively in teams, creating a safe and enjoyable learning environment and making a difference by helping individuals and groups elevate their performance to a higher level. Any day I’m in the classroom is a strong day. When a participant shares how his learning has been instrumental in helping him be a better Dad or colleague, I’m good for another six months.

I am an active member of a professional group (ASTD) dedicated to workplace learning and performance professionals. Attending train-the-trainer conferences is an annual ritual for me along with reading books from my favorite authors. The opposite of success is not failure. It is complacency. You need to keep fueling your passion to keep the fires burning.

Another step to living your passion is clarifying your purpose. What do you want more than anything? What is most important to you? What do you want to be most remembered for accomplishing? Most people find these are not material things. In the field of positive psychology, researchers are finding that happiness fuels success not the other way around. My purpose is to make a positive difference each and every day.

In his famous recording, “The Strangest Secret,” Earl Nightingale said, “Everything that is really worthwhile in life came to us free – our minds, our souls, our bodies, our hopes, our dreams, our ambitions, our intelligence, our love of family and children and friends and country. The things we get for nothing we can never replace.”

Too many people believe if they have more money, a bigger house, a longer title, they will be more successful and as a result, happier. In reality, people who are passionate about their work are happier and more productive. They smile because they want to not because they have to. They naturally do the little things that make the big difference. They are magnets because other people want to be around them. Happiness and excitement spreads to others.

If you want to fall in love with life, I encourage you to identify your strengths, clarify your purpose, establish a goal and develop an action plan for bringing passion back into your life.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” — Henry David Thoreau.


Gale Mote is a trainer, organizational development catalyst and coach in Cedar Rapids. Contact her at