Jeff Davidson's book, Simpler Living, was Amazon Kindle #1 in its category, first quarter, 2012. Jeff is featured in the NY Times, Forbes, Chicago Tribune, Businessweek, Fortune, Organized Executive, and Success.

Using Inspiration and Passion

Author, songwriter, and comedian Steve Allen was among the most prolific talent in broadcasting history. He wrote more than 9,000 songs, including “This Could Be the Start of Something Big,” which is still often played at New Year’s Eve galas. Not bad for someone who played by ear. He wrote TV scripts, gags, jokes. He also managed to write 50 books: first mysteries; then on show business; then self-help topics like presenting, speaking, and humor; and then later on social issues before passing away early this century.

Like many others in TV, Allen’s career began in radio where, as a young DJ, he once announced a Harvard vs. William & Mary football score as “Harvard 14, William 10, Mary 7.” His interests extended beyond show business as well. A tireless advocate, Allen was instrumental in the airlines’ smoking ban.I met Steve Allen in the 1990s at the American Bookseller’s Convention in Los Angeles. It was rumored that he never traveled without a pocket tape recorder and when I asked him if this was true, he took out his pocket tape recorder and showed me.

Allen once explained that although he was thought of as extraordinarily productive, he figured he owed his high output to “Not letting good ideas get away.” He recalled that even back in the 1950s, when tape recorders were bulky and expensive, he had one in each room of his house, “even the bathroom.”

High achievers are in the habit of recording or writing everything down. They understand that, like the late Earl Nightingale once said, “Ideas are like slippery fish.” Nightingale was a soldier stationed on the USS Maine when it was attacked by the Japanese in Pearl Harbor. Later he went on to become a high achieving sales professional, motivational speaker, and audio pioneer. He co-founded the Nightingale-Conant Company, which for several decades was a leader in self-help audio cassette and CD albums.

Nightingale knew that if you were, say, in a conference and it suddenly struck you that arranging your desk in a new way could make a dramatic improvement in your productivity, you’d have to write down that thought if you wanted to be sure that later you’d take action. If you didn’t write down the thought and left it to simmer in your busy mind, it might simply slip away. If you didn’t act on the thought, you’d probably end up just working the same old way. The ruthless reality about novel ideas, especially those that seemingly come from nowhere, is that most that slip away will not come back.

You rarely experience the same moment of brilliant inspiration twice. Such moments are what Professor Stephen Hawking refers to as singularities. Singularities are one-time events in the universe, or in terms of your own thinking, one time events in your brain. You have to make the most of them. In summary, capture your best thoughts or they are sure to get away.

Some high achievers routinely tap their passions and harness them as the driving force to get things done, particularly when working with others. Many organizations, including yours, have the same basic equipment, technology, resources, and even expertise among their employees.

What, then, makes one company or one branch more productive than another? A growing number of human resource professionals point to the passion that prevails within the organization.

Passion in the Workplace

In his book The Passion Plan at Work, Richard Chang cites seven tangible benefits that an organization can derive as a result of the passion that its managers imbue upon the staff.
  • Attracting the right type of employee — “The passion-driven organization appeals to the superstars of the job market.”
  • Direction and focus — Passion can define the direction the business takes whether at the regional, local, or branch level. The passion of your particular business, office, or store is the filter with which all decisions are made.
  • Energy — When a manager is passionate about the company, about his work, and about his employees, everyone benefits. Staff can become supercharged. On a daily level there is an extra level of energy that can empower the company and often make a huge difference between merely getting the job done and performing with distinction.
  • Loyalty — Relationships with employees that are built on passion have a higher probability of succeeding. It’s shown repeatedly that money is no substitute for the connection a manager can make with his staff, more so with a young staff.
  • Unity — When managers, team leaders, and employees share a common passion, they stand on common ground. “They are connected on a deeper level to achieving the organization’s objectives,” says Chang. Each incident and each day may not go smoothly — this is not to say there won’t be some friction here and there — but overall passion is a unifying element for which there is little substitute.
  • Heightened performance — Passion helps drive improvements in both quality and quantity of work that staff will perform. “If passion is alive and well at work,” says Chang, “your company has a clear advantage over its competitors.”

Keep in Touch with Your Passion

On an individual basis, many managers can muster significant levels of passion when it comes to facing competition, meeting a sales quota, or some short-term campaign. The passion discussed here, though, involves making a leap from being a reason-based manager to one who is also a passion-driven manager, not that there’s anything wrong with reason.

Too often, managers lose touch with the passions that they once drew upon to energize themselves and those around them. Chang says when you re-clarify what you want to achieve and find that your purpose is in alignment with your core passions, it will become a sustaining element of your work.

Influencing with Passion

Be on the lookout for what Chang calls “purpose by default.” If your purpose fails to reflect your true, underlying passion, this can lead to a lack of focus and less-than-desirable performance on the part of you and your staff.

Any changes or additions to your daily routine should be incorporated on a gradual scale. You have to be careful; any changes you may want to introduce could confuse others. Staff may not be able to accept or benefit from this new approach if you spring it on them too quickly.

Once your passion begins to take effect, you may find it easier to influence staff who wish to be involved with the energy that derives from your passion. Go ahead, ride the wave — we all know take-charge types who, with their positive infectious attitudes, have been able to amass support from others with seemingly little effort.

Stick close to your passion. You may have abandoned it once before — it’s all too easy to fall back into becoming a totally reason-based manager. Use your passion to help others latch on to your ideas and to what you want to achieve. Stay close to your passion and diligently seek to preserve it.

Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®," is a preeminent time management authority, has written 65 mainstream books, and is an electrifying professional speaker, making 886 presentations to clients such as Lockheed Martin, Eckerd, Kaiser Permanente, IBM, American Express, Lufthansa, Swissotel, Re/Max, USAA, Worthington Steel, and the World Bank. Jeff is Executive Director of the Breathing Space Institute and the author of books such as:
  • Simpler Living (Skyhorse Publishing)
  • Dial It Down--Live it Up (Sourcebooks)
  • The 60 Second Innovator (Adams Media)
  • Breathing Space (CreateSpace)
  • Accomplishing Your Goals (Smart Guide Publications)
Jeff is the premier thought leader on work-life balance issues and has been widely quoted in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, USA Today, Businessweek, Forbes, and Fortune. Cited by Sharing Ideas Magazine as a "Consummate Speaker," Jeff believes that career professionals today in all industries have a responsibility to achieve their own sense of work-life balance, and he supports that quest through his website

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