Where there's passion, there's usually excellence

Posted by J Matthew Buchanan at December 15, 2006 02:04 PM

When I was growing up, my father was always offering me little life lessons.  In between the tidbits like “you can’t go wrong with Craftsman,” he’d throw in some real zingers.  As an adult, I’ve really grown to appreciate the Kotterzingers, and have found myself passing them along more and more (my wife thinks I sound a bit like Kotter with his frequent stories about his Uncle Kermit, er, Max, er….).

One of my favorite zingers is this little play on the old “where there’s smoke….” axiom:  “Where there’s passion, there’s usually excellence.” 

I’ve learned to appreciate the value of that one time and again over the years…in all aspects of life.  Basically, it’s a shortcut (he had plenty of those, too, much to my mother’s chagrin).  While excellence is something that is extremely difficult to measure based on outcomes, passion is easily perceived and, as dad’s advice tells us, it’s a darn good predictor of excellence.

Truly measuring somebody or something for excellence involves a significant amount of time.  It takes a keen eye and the ability to judge without bias.  There’s no doubt that it’s a tough thing to do.  Heck, just look at baseball – even with its numbers driven assessments of careers, we still get carried away with debate about whether certain players are or were excellent (thoughts on Barry Bonds, anyone?).

But passion is something completely different.  It can’t be hidden.  It reveals itself immediately.  Passionate people exude passion.  No measurement is necessary.  Your gut assesses passion, and it does it very quickly. 

So there’s the shortcut.  If you want excellence – in a house painter, an author, or, egads, a lawyer – but you don’t have the time or desire to actually measure excellence, go ahead and take a shortcut:  look for passion.  Let your gut lead the way.  More often than not, it will point you directly toward excellence.


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David J. French Says:

December 17, 2006 12:09 PM

David writes:

I cannot pass-up the opportunity to share the parting words of Lister Sinclair, a Canadian broadcaster, who was interviewed at the age of 80 some years before he died. In answer to the question: "What message would you like to leave?" He said:

"Excellence is a triumph. Perfection is a disaster."

I guess this is another way of saying: "Balance in everything."

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