Passion Precedes Prosperity: Practice, Practice, Practice

CLEVELAND – Lately I’ve tired of ostensibly well-meaning people asking about money and “monetizing the blog.” Some people are motivated by money, power, influence or fame. Others assume and project that onto others simply because they fail to grasp that personal satisfaction and material wealth are mutually exclusive.

So allow me to dispel any confusion over the matter via sentiments of John Maxwell: A leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position. As mentioned in previous posts, when you love what you do time is inconsequential. It’s just the nature of our work…entrepreneurs are notoriously hyperactive thrill-seekers.

The challenge is finding (often imposing) balance in work and life pursuits. Lately I’ve pushed too hard, and the personal and physical effects eventually catch up with you. I had to conjure balance, reprieve, harmony.

The best part of what I do, at the present moment? I do it for free. The fundamental law inquiry ‘Cui bono‘ (to whose benefit?) is one of arguably multiple instances in which practitioners lack a singular answer. Leave singularity to politics and theology. We’re concerned with exponential results and solutions.

That’s what game changers like Paul Roetzer, Dharmesh Shah at HubSpot, Chris Brogan, Robert Scoble and Jeff Bullas are referring to when they discuss social transformation — and how our work is never truly done.

It’s about something bigger and better, something profoundly beyond the individual and collective whole. I can’t help but smile when I see the word “evangelist” in social entrepreneurs, bloggers, VCs twitter handles or websites.

As GaGa belts, whether we’re broke or evergreen, it really isn’t about the money (which takes care of itself). We are compelled to write, compelled to lead and create. At the end of the day, the sheets balance and scale tips accordingly.

One of my favorite books of Malcolm Gladwell’s is Outliers. Examining the science of human achievement, Gladwell touches on the 10,000-hour rule. In business and life in general, perseverance and discipline trump intuitive talent, mainly because extraordinary talent is grounded in a web of hidden advantages and opportunities.

But there’s nothing mysterious about pluck and initiative. Thomas Edison had it right: ‘Talent is 1% genius…and 99% perspiration.’ You have to want it more than anyone else. It’s that simple. Attitude is tantamount to altitude.

The gist of the 10,000-hour rule is equally transparent: Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good, it’s the thing you do that makes you good. Gladwell contends world-class athletes, concert pianists, ballerinas, outdoors enthusiasts, artists, writers, figure skaters, entrepreneurs etc. are extraordinary because of the sacrifice, heart and insatiable curiosity they bring to their field. 10,000 hours of anything makes you an expert regardless of niche or industry. Fame, riches and glory –at least in this realm — do not preclude sweat, guts and tears.

Status and titles are irrelevant. Something a significant other once said resonated with me: Whatever you are, be the Best. To add a LOST twist to it, I also like what Matthew Fox (besides the fact his son’s name is Byron) said during a post-series interview last year: One river, many wells.

Whether your work is high-profile, in the air or on a farm, expertise is self-evident, not self-appointed. Where some find value in managing and controlling externally, others simply lead from within. Serendipity, success and significance begin internally. And happily, do not depend on others’ opinions or value judgments. Creativity, passion and student mentality are intangible, not institutions. Some things you cannot teach…

In life, everyone and their mother will have an opinion about what you could or should be doing, who you are and what’s best for you. But as Christina Capadona-Schmitz, Vice-President of PR 20/20 puts it, only you know where you’re headed next. Celebrate milestones and turning points, but remember to be present and savor the creative cycle inherent in our work –and relish visions for the future.

A post in my media stream’s really spoken to me lately: Competitors may find success copying ideas and innovations. But purpose and vision cannot be replicated. And that’s what makes you remarkable.

Whatever you are, be the Best.


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