In my training sessions and lectures I could be accused of over-using the words ‘passion’ and ‘focus’ – and I care not a jot!
I love these words because if applied to life, you’re unstoppable!
So why is it when I use these phrases that every now and again I see a raised eyebrow, a wry smile or sometimes a blank expression? Why?
You see, I believe that passion and focus secures those little (and big) wins in life.
Passion and focus will make you successful.
Passion and focus will drive your goals.
Passion and focus will get you that job.
However, be warned, passion and focus, if applied correctly are extremely hard taskmasters.
Last week I worked with two clients who personify the definition of both of these words.
Twenty-six year-old Scott Anderson is a long-track speed skater who is fighting a lone battle both on and off the ice.
Long-track speed skating is recognised as an Olympic sport right across the world. It’s a sport in which Europe excels with the Netherlands leading the way.
However, there is one country that doesn’t recognise this fast-moving, agile sport and that’s the United Kingdom.
You would think this may be a problem for an aspiring young athlete who has his eyes focused on Gold at the Winter Olympics in Korea in 2018. Not for Scott. He has determination, tenacity, skill, speed and a Grandfather called Ted who has been his coach and mentor for over 15 years.
Grandad Ted transformed his garage into a home-made training facility for Scott.
Scott appreciates all the hours Ted dedicated but admits there were times when he struggled to show the same passion “Grandad has really been a mentor to me. I stand by that training with a team is very important, but I never had that chance, so there were times when I couldn’t be bothered training, but it would be grandad standing in the garage waiting for me to turn up. If I didn’t turn-up, he would be stood in this cold garage on his own.”
That dedication to the sport certainly paid-off as last weekend Scott became the British Long Track Champion in the 500, 1000 and 1500m races and is now in touching distance of qualifying for the Olympics. This is what makes Scott’s heart sing.
The second individual with both passion and focus is Australian Kelly Marr who has now made Scotland her home. I had the honour of hosting a very special day for Kelly last week which was an emotional yet joyous occasion.
Kelly has worked tirelessly for the past ten years to get remarkable Dundonians recognised for their contribution to the world such as Mary Anne Baxter who fought for women to be educated alongside men subsequently establishing University College Dundee, now Dundee University, social reformer Mary Lily Walker, biologist and mathematician D’Arcy Thompson, physicist and engineer Alfred Ewing and RD Low who created the Oor Wullie and The Broons comic strips.
Kelly’s vision came to life last week when the first ten bronze plaques (designed by the highly-talented Suzanne Scott of WhimSicAL LusH) were unveiled by the relatives of these Dundee greats in the new Slessor Gardens in the heart of the one billion pounds Waterfront Development. It’s called Discovery Walk. This is what makes Kelly’s heart sing.
(Photos: Brett Housego – firstname.lastname@example.org)
Here’s the point.
It’s been fifteen years (and counting) of passion and focus for Scott Anderson and ten years of passion and focus for Kelly Marr not to mention the cumulative years of passion and focus dedicated by Mary Anne Baxter, D’Arcy Thompson, Mary Lily Walker, Alfred Ewing and RD Low.
In his book ‘Talk Like TED’ (published by Macmillan), Carmine Gallo asks his clients “What makes your heart sing?” and this is a question I now ask my clients and students when they are putting presentations together or preparing for that big job interview (crediting Carmine of course).
When you ask this question you see a physical change in an individual. They sit-up straight, their speech patterns become almost operatic, they smile, they enthuse, they talk with passion.
Of course I encourage clients to have the very-best looking, well-prepared CV that they can possibly have, but so have ninety-nine percent of the competition.
Where you’ll win is with the information that’s not on paper.
The question that prompts this detail usually sounds like “what do you do in your spare time? “, “what is your greatest achievement?” or the ubiquitous “tell me about yourself”.
This is your cue to tell them what makes your heart sing.
It’s amazing that so many candidates (and perhaps you) don’t prepare for that part of the interview, yet this is your time to shine. Your time to demonstrate your passion and focus that will be very evident in your answer, knowledge, tone of voice, body language and enthusiasm.
This is where you’ll get ahead of the other ninety-nine percent of the competition.
Employers and potential new clients WANT you to demonstrate passion and focus. After all, if you’re not passionate and focused about yourself, how on earth can you be passionate and focused about a new position, a new business or winning and servicing a new client?
So I will unashamedly and with no apology continue to bang the drum, fly the flag and champion my favourite words ‘passion’ and ‘focus’. After all, they are absolutely infectious.
And remember, with their help, we all have it in us to have a plaque on Discovery Walk!