Where’s that fire in your gut?

August 27, 2012 | By Neil Ducoff | 10 Comments

No. I’m not referring to heartburn. I’m referring to that deepest level of passion that pushes you to fight for what you believe in, to achieve your wildest dreams – to captivate the imagination and spirit of those around you. If quantum physics is about manifesting thoughts into things, passion is about personal conviction and energy to achieve the extraordinary. Without passion, manifesting is nothing more than daydreaming. When I get an idea that ignites and feeds my deepest passion, get out of my way because something big is going happen. You can join me on my journey if you’re committed to work hard and go the distance. Stay home if you’re looking for an easy ride.

I’m an entrepreneur and business leader like you. I have my ups and downs. Some of my “ups” are truly incredible where I get into this groove of extreme creativity and productivity. That’s how Strategies started 19 years ago. That’s how Team-Based Pay was created. That’s how Broadbands and the Four Business Outcomes happened. That’s how Fast Forward and No-Compromise Leadership were written. And then there are the “downs” where I crash and burn. One even led to depression. Fact: every “down” can be traced back to when the fire in my gut was actually heartburn and I wasn’t being the no-compromise leader my company needed me to be. It happens to all leaders when they allow their passion to be snuffed out.

Here are some no-compromise thoughts to keep your passion burning bright:

  • Snap out of it: You may think your passion is burning bright, but what does your team really see? The stresses of leading a business can be like a fire hose putting out a birthday candle. S–t happens. People quit. Trust gets broken. Things break. Seemingly good decisions turn out to be bad. You can crawl into your cave of blame and “woe is me,” or, you can stand tall, dust yourself off and take action to turn things around. Sometimes, you just rode your success wave too long and got comfy and lazy. S–t happens. Snap out of it.
  • Sparks surround you: I am the most fortunate leader to be surrounded by some extraordinary people whose passion for what we do at Strategies was ignited by mine. They live it everyday like I do. When my passion wanes or I wander a little off course, they reel me back in. Their sparks reignite my passion. All they’re doing is keeping the flame burning bright. I live in gratitude for my team every minute of every day; because their sparks are igniting that special flame of passion in those they meet, train and coach. Trust and honor the sparks that surround you.
  • Be self-aware: It’s been over five years since my bout with depression. Looking back, those days seem surreal and dark. But it’s the lessons I learned about myself that I keep with me every day. I work out and ride to stay in shape and mentally sharp. I spot the early warning signs that my mood, demeanor and thinking is heading in the wrong direction. I’m human, I have my moments but I’m also self-aware enough to get back on track before I turn anyone else’s day from sunny to dark. And in the end, it’s my passion for what I believe in that brings me back the fastest.
  • Beware the dark side: Compromise, tolerating the intolerable, procrastination and accepting mediocrity has a voracious appetite to consume anything that’s good. Company cultures can shift from dynamic to toxic like the flick of a switch. No-compromise leaders protect the integrity of their cultures at all costs and the single most potent protection is passion. Passion lives in the heart and mind. In companies, it inspires breakthroughs, best-in-class performance, world-class experiences, and levels of success that leave competitors in awe. Once you compromise passion, you’re on the fast track to what could be your worst business nightmare.
  • It never leaves you: I’ve been coaching leaders for almost 40 years. I’ve seen leaders that were beaten down and wanted nothing more than to sell and get out. What they don’t realize is that their dream and passion is still alive inside them. Given a chance, a burning ember can ignite a leader’s passion. One success builds on another. Pride returns. Sparks spread. Giving up on a dream that is within reach is giving up on yourself, your people and your company. If your passion has been reduced to an ember, do something about it. What’s the worst that could happen? Heck, you may even exceed your own expectations.

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click above to comment.

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They’ll appreciate it.

Categories: Business Builders , Leadership , Monday Morning Wake-Up , Teamwork

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  1. Thank you Neil you are good no one else like you. Sh — t is happening and it’s not over. Working hard to stay afloat. I did email you for some help not sure if you got it. Kathleen

  2. Good Morning Neil,
    Great thoughts about keeping the fire burning. Always great to hear your perspective on passion and leadership. As I spent the day coaching our oper.mgr., I referenced your original strategies book on systems. Thanks for always sharing….keep the fire burning from one Jersey guy to another!

  3. I needed this morning’s wake up. My passion for greatness and an environment that is inviting to all that visit us is my dream. I want the managers that I inherited when I purchased this company 2 years ago feel that same passion and stay on the same page with me.
    When they let things slide it burns me up. Thank you for igniting me this morning.


  4. What can you do when it’s the leader who is snuffing out your passion, and the passion of your team members? When the only reason the employees stay is because of a non compete agreement and some financial stability, but you can see the passion, the fire, go out of their eyes day by day? What can you do then?

  5. Thanks for the honesty. I do believe when you are a passionate person there are ups and downs. And boy howdy can the downs be big. After leading for 18 years a year ago I had a total emotional break down. But as one of mentors in life taught me you have to have break downs before you can have break throughs. And baby I am breaking through and dreaming big. My team will get on the bus with me or I will leave them in the dust! Thanks for your encouragement!
    “where there is no Vision one will perish”

  6. Hi Neil,
    I really enjoy reading your Monday Morning Wake-up. I don’t always have the opportunity to read it right away but always keep them and catch up often with a few at a time. This one was especially inspiring as there have been some changes in my business and I can relate to feeling sorry for myself. Thank you for your honesty and reminding me to not give up on my dream. Thank you.


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