The other “P” word that keeps us going

This article almost didn’t make it to publication. I strongly considered asking the wonderful people at CUInsight if the piece they expected in mid-November could be pushed to a more convenient time.

It’s not like you would miss me … right? There are so many excellent content contributors on this site that one late or missed post would certainly go unnoticed. 

My “reasons” were all solid. My clients are keeping me as busy as ever. Living and working in the COVID environment continues to take more time than expected. To top it off, my wife and I are in the final stages of a massive renovation of what will eventually be our new over budget and 3 weeks late home.

Truthfully, I sometimes feel like the plate spinner on old variety television shows. I’m running from plate to plate to plate just to prevent any one of them from falling to the floor. All of this has left me feeling a little tired and ready to pull back from my day-to-day commitments and responsibilities. 

My guess is that the CUInsight team would have said yes to my request.

That brings us to you.

Are you like me? Have the seemingly unending challenges left you feeling tired on at least an occasional basis? Do you sometimes rationalize that pushing or missing the occasional commitment or leadership responsibility is to be expected considering the challenging times in which we live? Have you wondered if anyone would even notice if an obligation is missed?

If the answer was “yes” to any of these questions, here’s a reminder: 

Leaders communicate importance with their attention. Absence is an act of leadership. What you don’t say and do sends a message that is equal in importance to the actions you take and words you say.

What keeps us going?

This article made it in on time. It would have been nice to spend Sunday afternoon watching sports, spending time with my family, or even taking a nap. I am at the computer instead.

You would do the same. 

But why? What drives us to give our full attention to things when that little voice inside us is saying, “I need a break”?

Motivational gurus point to passion. Passion for your work intensifies focus, provides the drive to persist when challenges arise, and enables creativity.

Passion is sexy and hot. Lovers in the passion stage of a relationship are completely consumed by the object of their desire.

People who are passionate about their jobs exhibit the same zeal. They are, as Peter Drucker described, “monomaniacs with a mission.”

Steve Jobs said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

It’s difficult to argue with that much conventional wisdom. If you are fortunate to work every day at a career or job about which you are passionate, consider yourself lucky. 

The not-so-obvious truth is that passion might not be enough to keep you motivated and engaged through the COVID-19 disruption. 

Passion can fade. Relationships with an unrealistic focus on passion are more likely to result in disillusionment.  You see this at work when a formerly “passionate” employee becomes jaded and cynical because things just aren’t as they used to be in the past. 

The alternative is another “P” word – PRIDE.

A positive sense of pride is grounded in humility. It establishes and maintains a reputation for excellence. Pride doesn’t take shortcuts, and most important, it maintains high standards when passion has diminished.

Pride speaks to character, and character is an essential element of effective leaders. It is also an excellent indicator of commitment to doing the job the way it is supposed to be done.

Now is the time for leaders to show their pride.

My father was an auto and truck mechanic who spent much of his life as a shop manager. He always required potential new hires to bring their personal tools into the interview. His reasoning was simple: he was more interested in the pride a mechanic took in the use and care of his tools than the person’s passion for working on vehicles. 

Someone who uses a crescent wrench as a hammer will take short cuts that can affect quality or cause an injury. A leader who pursues what is easy rather than what is best will do the same.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as 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.”

Most assume that Dr. King was talking about the importance of passion regardless of the status of your position. Perhaps, however, we missed the real message about having personal pride in your performance.

Leadership—the act of influencing the actions and outcomes of others— is more important than ever. There are challenges, problems, and opportunities everywhere. All of them require leaders to be fully present and active because all of them are impossible without bringing people together to achieve something great.

Passion pushes you toward success. Pride refuses to let you deliver less than your best. Your team and members need you to dig deep to show your pride in the times when your passion fades and falters.

Randy Pennington

Randy Pennington

Randy Pennington is an award-winning author, speaker, and leading authority on helping organizations achieve positive results in a world of accelerating change. He is author of the award-winning books Make ... Web: Details