Passion is the thing that makes us go beyond minimal effort and dedicate vast amounts of time to a project or activity, often with minimal visible return. It’s those things we do – as well as the people we love – that show up in odd ways, are ridiculed by others, and are often difficult to explain in concrete terms. Passion is what keeps fans through a losing streak: it is what allows us to overlook singular bad events/decisions; and it is definitely what keeps entrepreneurs going through the difficult task of starting a new business.
Passions can be very powerful, and often alienating; especially to those who don’t share the same views or levels. They sometimes seem to show up with little warning as we discover something new that really excites us; and they can go almost as quickly. No matter what our passions are; they need to be fed in order to stay alive.
The best way I have discovered to harness the power of other peoples’ passions is to have a clear, focused purpose of your own. Having a clearly defined purpose helps pre-select customers, employees, and investors who are interested in supporting your purpose – whatever it might be. This environment allows them to be financially, as well as emotionally, committed to the organization.
When entrepreneurs operate with a meaningful purpose – challenge a particular status quo; create something new for the world; build tools for others or future generations, or even make a great work environment, etc. – they find it easier to attract and harness the passion of others.
One company taking purpose to an extreme is TOMS – guided by one simple mission. With every product purchased, TOMS will help a person in need. One for One ®. Watch this video to truly understand their purpose. With each new pair of shoes I get, I gladly share the program with everyone who comments about them. Helping customers feel good about looking good is definitely a great way to build loyalty!
Perhaps you have heard about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and wonder what the connection is to Microsoft or computers. Not much, but when you consider he operated the company with the purpose of helping people be more productive, the purpose fits with computers and ridding the world of malaria. As a powerful entrepreneur, he is enjoying a second successful career while still living his purpose
But purpose doesn’t necessarily need to be tied to a charity. Zappos.com is dedicated to creating a culture that delivers extraordinary customer service AND great prices. They sell more shoes than any other site in the world, and are continue to be rated one of the best places to work… by their nearly 4000 employees. Tony Hsieh, CEO, is now embarking on a mission to help transform Downtown Las Vegas into the most community-focused large city in the world by inspiring and empowering people to follow their passions to create a vibrant, connected urban core. This project has already created nearly 500 new jobs.
The two most important aspects of your Purpose is 1) to get very specific and focused; 2) communicate it thoroughly.