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You Can’t Compete With Passion

What makes you stand out? What makes you different? What make you BETTER in your professional your personal life than others?


Some people have it, only a select few know how to communicate or act on it, and most are too afraid to even feel it.

If you’re fearful of feeling something or believing in something so powerful it can bring tears to your eyes, this post is not for you. You’re one of the “afraid to feel” people and that’s fine! At some point, you’ll wonder why you climbed the proverbial ladder but never made it to “the top” or never started your own business.

For those of you who love being inspired, love inspiring, strive to be the best, know that you have “it” in you – you’re just not sure what “it” is yet – keep reading; this post was written for you.

Because people can’t compete with Passion.

4 Simple Steps:

Find Your Purpose

Everyone has a purpose. Your purpose may not be something you’re proud of outwardly, it may not be something others would find important – but it’s important to you. If you don’t know what your purpose is, seek out different people, different industries, new organizations; something will click. And when it does, you’ll know it. I never knew what I wanted to do in college; but I knew I was competitive and I liked to out think people (another way of saying that would be MANIPULATE). Because I was outgoing, everyone told me I should be a lawyer. I didn’t love the law, I didn’t have a passion for the law; but I aced my LSATs and got a full ride to law school – so I went. And proceeded to get A’s. And further proceeded to drop out – which was the best decision I ever made. Looking back, I guess I wasn’t quitting because I didn’t stop because it was too hard. I stopped because I didn’t like it. I wasn’t excited to wake up in the morning.

So what next? I ended up being referred to a job at Kaplan University. By the second day of a 2 week training course, I knew 3 things: 1) I would be really good at this job because I believed in education 2) We had ‘goals’ to meet, so it met my competitive nature 3) I got to be on the phones all day talking to people about themselves. This was perfect for me.

What I didn’t count on was the heart that went into the job. I consistently overachieved goals and was constantly asked and listened in on by senior management to see what it was I did differently; they didn’t find much. I used the same questions, similar responses…but there was one thing other people could not emulate – and that was the burning desire I had to help people better their lives through education. And yes, it sounds SO CHEESY – which is so unlike me; but it was true. To this day, I still know the names of the first few folks I enrolled, I still have letters and emails from people thanking me for changing their lives. Unknowingly and without trying to – I had found my purpose.

Purpose Drives Passion

And that purpose only served to heighten my passion. Being on the phone, I was only helping one person at a time; I wanted to scale that – I wanted to help more people back to school. So I trained others -and what I found was interesting. I could train many people to be average and above average – but only very few to “great” and it was at that point I learned the difference in being passionate about something and ‘just having a job’. Passion is not something that can be taught; it can be inspired for bursts of time, but it’s innate.

Passion Drives Success

I was becoming disenchanted with training; so when I was offered a role to work as a member of the Education Connection management team – I jumped on it. There’s nothing better than building a start-up and taking it through profitability, new product launches, and the intellectual banter and learning experience is worth any 3 corporate jobs. I worked for two men – to this day, still 2 of the only men I know – who knew how to direct their passion towards profit and do so while keeping their beliefs and remaining 100% ethical.

We had started an internet lead generation company, the only one / the first one at the time to drive students to go back to school using national television. Although we drove students to a website, we received 2-3 calls per day. Students had researched and gotten our contact information. Although I was constantly slammed with work, I took the calls. I missed talking to students. I took the calls because I knew that these students must be truly motivated to better themselves if they were researching and calling us. I spoke to the student; went back into my old role – to advise the student on the school that would best fit their needs. Once I had spoken with students and found a school and program that met their needs, I transferred the student directly to an advisor. Not only were the conversion rates 7 X that of the normal admissions conversion rate, but the students were so appreciative. I had found a way to take my passion, helping students, and bring that into my current role.

Innovate and Scale

But it wasn’t enough to help 2 or 3 per day. I told my CEO what I had been doing. He said, “Jamie – congratulations – you’ve come up with a new business model that’s never been done in the EDU space before. This is our new business. You have 60 days to build out this advising center, hire people who share our passion and vision, and train them to do what you do”.

And I did. I finally learned how to scale my passion. And it wasn’t only successful, it started a new lead type in the education industry. Don’t run from your passions; continue to work at them. Success will come; you may have to be patient, but finding your purpose, your passion, and continuing to embrace it – eventually you will find a way to make it a business. Keep w

  1. March 23, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Passion is important, I have never denied that. I have just sometimes found that it doesn’t open doors as easily for some as it does for others. There remains in my mind an X-Factor outside force that tends to determine the likelihood of one’s passion being of use to one’s success. Many passionate people, myself included, find that there passion burns out into nothing because it really never opens a door, lands a job, secures a mentor or really in anyway produces any tangible result.

    Consequently, the passion lessens and sometimes dies. I agree you need passion, but passion needs to be met with some kind of tangible, even if only small, productive result. Because passion alone, when it yields no change in one’s given circumstances, cannot feed itself.

    • March 24, 2011 at 6:30 am

      I think you make a solid point; but I would also say a couple things: 1) If you know you are a passionate person and you don’t seem to be able to communicate that either through your spoken words or actions, it may be worth taking a class to learn how to do so. Practicing the wrong thing over and over is going to lead to more “wrong ways” of communicating (or attempting to communicate) your passion. You make a great point though and my next blog posting is going to be about how to learn how to communicate your passion – thank you.

      WHat I would also say is if the passion lessens and sometimes dies – maybe it’s not a true passion in the first place. I firmly believe that passion drives persistence and there are people who have worked 20-30 years on one business idea or one project before anyone takes notice of it. Personally, I don’t have the patience for that, but it has been done…

  2. March 23, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Now you’re speaking to me on my level Jamie.

    Wearing my heart on my sleeve is becoming the norm, and I’ve found a way to scale my passion too.

    We’re going through some pretty hard questions with Enspiral at the moment – asking ourselves whether we want to be just another services agency with a different business model, OR whether we wanted to use our web/IT, Creative & Facilitation skills to enact positive change – be it social enterprise start ups, educational campaigns for NGO’s, creating the technical gears behind a world-changing idea, or incubating our own products which drove collaboration & sustainability. I think I know which one will win out.

    For me, I’ve managed to combine my education (business management & marketing), my skills (a mish mash of public/private/3rd sector work in project management, relationship building, education, and intrapreneurism), and my bigger picture view & need for higher purpose. I love Enspiral, and believe the initial blooming of promise can flower into something amazing.

    I also still love reading your blog, so thank you for speaking to Passion. Or as per the NGO conference I just attended – “Passion Plus” (we need more than just Passion to achieve our dreams).

    Now we need to let the passion flow out of just business/work, and let the Passion Plus flow out into ‘how we be’ in the world around us.

  3. March 24, 2011 at 6:31 am

    Sam – you and I are of the same mold. I’m curious – what did you learn about “passion plus”? What are the other factors we need to achieve our dreams? I would tend to think that passion is the driver to learn and excel on the other areas we need to be better in to be successful, no?

    • March 31, 2011 at 5:08 pm

      Jamie, Passion Plus was a wide ranging conference with aims to set out toolkits of skills to add to that rush we get when we think of what we’re trying to achieve – to help us communicate, operationalise, strategise and essentially translate emotion into productive action.

      Workshops included ‘different lenses’ on the industry – such as social enterprise Vs NGO. It included workshops on collaboration & facilitative leadership, yoga-based thinking & actions to help ‘increase our capacity’ to deal with the day to day, it included alternative models of governance, the role IT can play in the industry, and a whole heap more. Very beneficial.

      I disagree that Passion is like the fuel that makes the car go though. I think that dulls down it’s importance & the drive it can give you to go the extra mile. If you want to use a fuel analogy then perhaps it is the premium fuel to yesteryear’s leaded fuels… both will run the car, but ‘passion’ will help run it on a higher level of performance.

  4. March 31, 2011 at 4:58 am

    I think you are right. Passion to be effective must be direct at goals, lead to success, or achieve desired outcomes. Of course this leads to the tricky issue of how we should direct our passion. The question then becomes, how do we develop goals etc?

    Not sure if this is a good comparison, but passion is the equivalent of gas in a car. It is a very important component to making the car run. However it is not the only component, there are others such as tires, battery, oil, belts, engine, etc. Alone, passion or the other components are not sufficient for to achieve goals, etc. Passion comparable to gas, very important, but not the only requirement.

  5. March 31, 2011 at 7:12 am

    I think it’s a great comparison. It’s essentially saying that “gas” (or passion) is needed to DRIVE everything else in the car to work. Love it. In terms of developing goals, I think that’s interesting as I’ve stopped doing so. Or I should say I’ve stopped with long term goals because I feel like I never know where life will take me. My goal is to have something I’m passionate about to be working on.

  1. April 3, 2012 at 11:05 am
  2. April 11, 2012 at 11:19 am

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