September 3, 2017 – A Passion for Perfection

If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Speech on Work and Passion

The quote above by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of my favorites, not simply because it portrays his passion for doing things well, but should serve as an inspiration to anyone looking to complete a task well. The one area where I believe that a good leader is necessarily born and cannot be made, is the passion that he or she brings to leading people. This is by far one of the most difficult things to teach and is evident when someone is trying to fake it. There is no doubting the passion when watching speeches or interviews with: Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Mark Cuban, General Stanley McChrystal, or any other passionate leader, that they truly believed in what they do or did, their vision, and the people they lead.

Passion for a vision, a job, or to lead is something that almost always comes naturally for a select group, and is difficult to create for those without the knack for it. One of the last senior leaders I worked for desperately tried to foster their vision, but it was obvious to all that the passion for this vision was forced and not genuine. This strategic leader knew all the right books, terms, and models but lacked the genuine spirit and passion to implement them. Where this senior leader excelled, was their desire to mentor and use their rank for good. This strategic leader knew all the right books, terms, and models but lacked the genuine spirit and passion to implement them. Where this senior leader excelled, was their desire to mentor and use their rank for good. While that is a positive – it doesn’t make up for the inherent passion a great leader carries to everything they do.

Be passionate in what you do – and carry that passion to do everything to perfection. Do what you do with passion just as Martin Luther King Jr. extolled.

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