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Why Great Leaders Were Passionate Well Before They Were Experts


It’s a simple concept: In order to be a trusted leader, you have to become an expert.

Expertise is built from credibility.

Credibility comes knowledge acquisition.

Knowledge acquisition comes from experience.

Experience comes from trying,

Trying comes from passion.

We’ve been told by the great leaders to reverse engineer the process. As Gary Vaynerchuk puts it(bluntly, of course), “What do you want to happen?…If you know where you’re going, you have a better chance of getting there. Don’t waiver from that…address the finish line then reverse engineer it.”

Gary V

Gary V

So if you want to reverse engineer expertise, the starting line is passion.

Unfortunately, passion(along with usual suspects “thought leader”, “influencer”, and entrepreneur) is badly misused in today’s world.

In order to be successful, you need to find your passion. What am I uniquely good at? What really gets me out of bed in the morning? What DOESN’T feel like work?! Note: Here’s a Pro Tip, no matter how much passion you have for something, if you do it for a living, it will oftentimes feel like work.

Here’s my definition of passion: What is something you would do for the rest of your life that would net you ZERO dollars, but you would still continue to do it. That’s passion!

Here’s the Secret

So many of us chase bi-products. Bi-products are the results of our actions. I gain muscle when I lift weight. I develop young men when I coach sports. I inspire action when I lead troops.

The bi-products are gaining muscle, developing men, and inspiring action. You could also put in the obvious, I make money when I go to work. Money being the bi-product here.

But those things are what SO MANY of us struggle with as young leaders and entrepreneurs. We want to lead, we want to inspire, we want to build our dreams.

But those things come AFTER we put our minds to something. Hence, the HARDEST part to capture passion is finding out what to DO, instead what we RECEIVE in return.

What you need to figure out is what is the VERB that will make you happy that will generate your bi-product(tangible or not).

Passion is contagious. People follow passion. It invigorates the soul and drives missions, visions, and values.

The Odyssey Online

The Odyssey Online

“We can each define ambition and progress for ourselves. The goal is to work toward a world where expectations are not set by the stereotypes that hold us back, but by our personal passion, talents and interests.”
Sherly Sandberg, CEO of Facebook

In the simplest terms…Figure out your product by figuring out what excites you.

Then, based on extensive research, build the product(tangible or not) that satisfies a problem of someone.

Experience the ups, downs, of implementing this product in people’s lives’.

Acquire knowledge from consumers and concerned stakeholders about how this product is working, not working, and iterate to refine the product.

Enhance credibility by keeping situational awareness on the environment in which you released your product to those who truly could benefit from experiencing it.

Become classified as an “expert” based on the credibility earned, knowledge gained, and experience lived.

Then you can start to consider yourself a leader.

Listen to Michael Colonnese, GenY Leader and CEO of WorkAmerica, talk about this topic in our interview here!

About the author, Tim

US Navy Surface Warfare Officer.
Lacrosse Player.

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