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  • The Excellence Equation: Passion and Commitment

    When someone seems stuck in their career and unsure of their next step, a question they’re often asked to answer is, “What are you passionate about?” That seems like a logical starting point. After all, when you’re working on your passion, whatever it is, the belief is that you’ll enjoy yourself more and be more willing to do what needs to be done.

    But is passion really enough? I thought it was until I saw a movie this weekend called Herb and Dorothy which chronicles the true story of a Manhattan couple, who over a 40-year period amassed one of the most impressive collections of Minimalist and Conceptual art—nearly 5,000 pieces—all on a postal worker’s salary, and all from a one-bedroom apartment.poster

    They lived day-to-day on Dorothy’s salary as a librarian and spent every penny Herb made on art. They bought pieces that they liked, were affordable and could fit into their tiny living space.

    You could say they had a passion for art, but I also saw a very deep commitment to it as well. They spent every single dollar and every single free moment they had immersed in art, learning about it, talking about it, visiting galleries, meeting artists.

    I really didn’t get Herb and Dorothy at first. Early in the film, I was disturbed by what seemed like an extreme art addiction. No matter how much they collected, they kept wanting more. What was the point of collecting so many pieces? When you had to start stacking works under the bed shouldn’t that have been a signal that enough was enough? It seemed like a constant thirst that couldn’t be quenched, and that bothered me.

    91147636_ddf67df098But then I thought about the other extreme, that group of people who work and live without either passion or commitment. Going through the motions, caring very little and giving up at the first obstacle. That actually bothered me more. And it should bother you too because those people could be working for you, interacting with your customers, influencing your staff, or involved in something much more critical to your life.

    Just getting by

    You can’t really control the actions or motivations (or lack thereof) of others. You can’t manifest a desire within someone to do well; only they can do that. But what you can do is be a role model and develop excellence in yourself by re-committing to commitment.

    If you’ve already identified what you’re passionate about from a work standpoint, ask yourself next how you can also remain committed to it for the long term, because that’s the true turning point towards excellence.

    How can I be committed to being the best at what I do? How can I:3330939471_a6090da26b

    • Put in the time that’s required?
    • Invest the money that’s needed?
    • Build the relationships I need to build?
    • Learn everything I need to know?

    Being passionate about your work is for your benefit. Being committed to your work is for the benefit of others. Only when both elements of the equation are addressed can you be truly excellent in your field.


    Liz Lynch is founder of the Center for Networking Excellence and author of Smart Networking: Attract a Following In Person and Online (McGraw-Hill, 2008). Connect with Liz on Twitter at @liz_lynch and get your free Smart Networking Toolkit at http://www.SmartNetworking.com.


    Liz is author of Smart Networking: Attract a Following In Person and Online (McGraw-Hill, 2009) and a sought-after speaker who brings a practical and insightful perspective to networking that has connected with a global audience. Her printed and audio products have sold on six continents, she’s been invited to speak at conferences and organizations around the world, and her writings have been translated into multiple languages. Liz is also founder of the Center for Networking Excellence, a company that develops products, programs and seminars to help entrepreneurs and professionals get clients, build their businesses, and accelerate their careers through networking.

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    11 comments on “The Excellence Equation: Passion and Commitment
    1. avatar

      What about:

      (Passion + Commitment + Believe) = Successful Personal Brand

      Any add?

    2. avatar

      For several years, I’ve been promoting a similar “possibility” equation. The only component you’re not listing is skill. I think ANYTHING is possible if you have passion, commitment, and skill. If you’re short in one area, you can make up for it in another. I’ve worked with people that lacked a specific skill, but were so passionate and so committed, there was no way they were not going to succeed. When building teams for a project, I like to find individuals that excel in each area. I don’t want an overly-skilled team as much as I don’t want an overly-passionate team. But, when there is balance in all three areas, I’ve seen magic happen.

      Best Regards,
      Derek Huether, PMP

      • avatar
        Liz Lynch says:

        Great point! And in fact, after the movie, there was a discussion afterwards about how much innate skill was important to Herb and Dorothy’s success, and could ANYBODY really have done what they did by simply putting in the hours? Didn’t reach a consensus on that.

    3. avatar

      Great article Liz! Totally agree …. the combination of passion and commitment is where the “magic” really happens. Thanks for sharing this.

    4. avatar
      yinka olaito says:

      This angle to it is really fantastic. I love these:
      Put in the time that’s required?
      Invest the money that’s needed?
      Build the relationships I need to build?
      Learn everything I need to know.
      Thanks for sharing

      • avatar
        Liz Lynch says:

        Thanks, Yinka! I wanted to come up with a simple checklist of questions that would help people assess their commitment to whatever it is they are pursuing. Hopefully they can be honest with themselves.

    5. avatar

      This is a great message!

      Time, Money, Relationships and Learning. Those four ingredients can accomplish great things if worked on consistently.

      Success is hard work, but don’t underestimate the power of consistent effort!

      • avatar
        Liz Lynch says:

        It’s true. We look at someone’s “overnight” success and don’t realize the many years of training and hard work that went into it.

    6. avatar

      Yes I absolutely agree with you. Thank you for sharing.

    7. avatar
      cbpredator says:

      these are must have qualities for everything and everyone

    8. avatar
      Emmanuel says:

      My Manager asked me to explain my passion to her in a recently meeting and I was startled about how much It was difficult to express one’s passion and purpose. Thanks for your write up. They really helped me articulate my passion backed up by my commitment during a return meeting.

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