photo by Thomas R. Stegelmann
It’s often been said that you should ‘Do what you love…and the money will follow’. Unfortunately it’s not really true…you still have to have a solid business idea for the money side of things – if you really love underwater basket weaving, that doesn’t mean you are going to be able to make a solid living at it.
However the converse is definitely true, in the sense that if you aren’t doing what you love, then the money is not going to follow, even if it’s a great business idea. Sadly you see this all the time – businesses where it’s obvious the ownership (and the employees) don’t care about anything. Not their product and certainly not their customers. Passion…a strong belief…is not only a huge source of energy, but it also supplies much needed direction.
When you stand for something, when you believe in an important idea, it’s part of your core make-up. You’re in the zone when you’re working on something you believe in – everything is easier, everything is more fun, you get more done. It just means more.
Want an example? My family and I recently had the opportunity to spend a week at Glacier National Park in Montana – a truly beautiful and special place (hard to get to, but definitely worth the trip). While there, we interacted with a lot of National Park Service employees and volunteers and it was obvious in every interaction that they not only loved what they were doing, but they believed in what the National Park Service is doing down to their core. According to their website, the shared trait of all National Park employees (and volunteers) is:
“A passion for caring for the nation’s special places and sharing their stories.”
If you talk with a Park ranger for any amount of time, it’s clear that being a Ranger isn’t a job for them, it’s their passion…it’s who they are. One Ranger we talked to explained that when he had time off he went to different National Parks for hiking and soaking in new spaces. This is a guy who is out in the wilderness every single day…and on his days off is looking for other places to do more of it. Another Ranger had been out 3 long days straight helping on a search and rescue effort and she was planning on continuing that effort for as long as it took – because that what she believes in.
That kind of passion, focus and dedication to a job is literally priceless, in that you can’t pay someone to act that way, they have to buy into what you stand for up front. But when they do…watch out because you can achieve unbelievable results with a workforce that has that kind of passion!
When you’re in the business of saving lives, or preserving endangered animals or historic wild places, it’s a little easier to boil things down in terms of what you stand for. However, the rest of us aren’t out of luck – there are plenty of empowering, motivating ideals that any kind of business can stand for. For many businesses, the focus could be on solving problems or helping others succeed. Maybe you’re all about helping people get back to normal…or helping them relax and enjoy life. Whatever it is, it’s critical for long term success that you stand for something…some kind of big idea. And it’s not just idealism – having a strong core belief will help you in several ways:
1. Attract the right kind of people
Just like with the National Park Service, if you want passionate engaged employees, you have to be clear on what you believe in and what you’re doing. When that happens you’ll start connecting with the right people who will advance your cause.
2. Make tough decisions
When you know your top priority, it’s a lot easier to make those hard decisions that every business owner faces all the time. If the only driver is money or profits, you’ll make a different decision than when your key driver is helping your clients succeed in the long run. That’s not to say money isn’t important, but it shouldn’t be the primary criteria.
3. Get more done
When everyone knows what’s most important, it’s suddenly much easier to get things done…because everyone agrees on what’s important. Without that shared common ground it’s a lot harder to keep everyone focused on the right things.
Try This: Go to your employees and ask them to write down (in a couple of sentences) what your company stands for. If you’re not getting 90+% with the same simple answer, then you’ve got an opportunity to dramatically improve your business. It’s not easy but if you can find and easily communicate what you and your business stand for you will see huge benefits.
Where do you stand on taking a stand? We’d love to hear your thoughts – share them in the comments below.
Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach