“I’ve always considered myself a warrior, somebody who would fight for what he believed in,” Coffee told AL.com. “It hit me like, ‘What do you think the military does and what do you think the military is full of? Warriors. All of a sudden, I had this respect for the military and I just realized that there is no America without the men and women who serve this country.” –Glen Coffee
Glen Coffee, former Alabama star running back, played one season for the 49ers NFL football team until he turned his jersey in for the military.
Glen Coffee was fortunate to realize his passion for football was mistaken for serving this country. Some of us go through the motions each day without a real purpose in our work. Have you ever thought to yourself, why do I do what I do? What is my intention? Does this intention stir my heart?
If the answer is no, then we haven’t found the passion. Once you find your passion, you will no longer come home at the end of the day and say, “I hate my job.”
Like Coffee, our passion is embedded in our everyday routines, but it takes work to reveal our true passion. I too was fortunate to find my true passion and in the next couple days, I will explain to you the process I took.
Why is passion important?
Passion not only gives you purpose in life, it also drives a leader to becoming successful. When you find your passion, your work becomes your reward. Your motivation will radiate off of you to your followers. Influence will come ten times easier when passion is present.
Lets find your passion so you can develop into a successful leader.
A little background on me before we begin the process. I began playing softball when I was at the age of four. From the first time stepping on the field, I did not miss one consecutive year playing the sport. I assumed my passion was softball because I enjoyed the sport and it had been my entire life for fourteen years. However, there was always something missing since I knew my softball career would eventually end and I had no desire in the coaching field. I needed to do some soul searching to get to the bottom of this void feeling I was having.
Three steps helped me find my purpose and passion in life. Through reflection, exercises, and reading I found that my passion all along was not softball, but it was influencing others to become the best of their ability. I was never the star athlete, I cared more that my teammates excelled and got something out of the experience. Here is how I was able to translate my passion of softball into helping others.
As I mentioned in the last post, reflection is a very powerful tool in learning about yourself and others. Like most, I was not a fan of reflection at first. I did not want to dissect my feelings because I had a million other things on my to-do list but even worse I was scared of what I would discover. Then I decided to challenge myself and to lean in to that fear. Now, please take that in context! I don’t mean to lean into every fear (ie. jumping off a cliff to conquer fear of heights). Be conscious of your fears and lean into the ones that will make you a stronger and better leader.
How do you reflect?
Good question, glad you asked!
There are a variety ways to reflect, but I am only going to touch on the two that helped me discover my passion.
We had an assignment for class to journal each week for ten weeks relating our experiences to leadership. Being an MBA student, with no job at the time, I thought this was going to be more difficult than writing a research paper. I’m sure you are thinking the same thing if you are not in a leadership position. HOWEVER, I found that anyone can lead. The position just gives you power, leadership requires influence. Through the ten weeks of journaling, I found that I had so many leadership qualities and they kept revolving around softball. At the time I thought this was normal because I assumed that was my passion, but later to find out it was deeper than that. I began connecting the dots between the content and context. I was not writing about softball, I was writing about how I was able to influence others and make them better people. This was the beginning of my realization that my passion was more than just softball.
Begin writing and see what you find in between the lines.
- Talk Out loud
If you choose not to write down your experiences, it is critical to talk out loud. We tend to have twenty million things going on in our head, so it is impossible to find the correlation between content and context. This can either be done in an individual or group setting. Begin with a powerful question. Something like, “did I add value today?” “Did I get excited about something?” Sometimes a group setting is a little easier to start because you are able to feed off each other’s experiences. The most important thing is to get your thoughts out of your head. Put the cell phone down and take some time to reflect. It will pay off in the end, I promise!!
Just remember, the main goal of reflecting is to organize your thoughts and learn from your experiences.