“Set yourself on fire with passion, and people will come for miles to watch you burn.”
You can’t lead movements without passion for your cause. I don’t care if your movement is for-profit or nonprofit, you have to be on fire for your mission, product, service, goals. This however has many risks.
First is the risk of being alone in your passion. We are a people hard-wired to belong in groups, in tribes. Seth Godin makes a great argument for that in his book by the same name, “Tribes”. Being alone requires one to be unafraid, to overcome their fears of ridicule, judgment, rejection, or attack. Being alone means bearing through the anxiety of uncertainty and the prospect of failure. Will I remain alone? Will anyone join me? Is this true? What if I’m wrong? Being alone in your passion for your cause also bears the possibility of alienation. Look at the scripture persona of John the Baptist. He was labeled insane and spent years wandering the desert alone because very few joined his cause for a very long time. But then, he changed the world.
Secondly, being on fire for your passion requires you to inspire others. To find just the right actions to get others to join you. The risk in this is doing the wrong thing. Is there such a risk? Is doing the wrong thing a permanent fault?
Finally, being on fire for your passion can hurt. Risking your emotional well-being requires bravery and piety, putting aside your own needs for the needs of the cause. And yet every day, we are inspired by people who HAVE set themselves on fire for their cause. And there is a formula, as evidenced in this TED Talk by Derek Sivers.
The formula can be condensed into this:
- You can’t be successful unless you are ON FIRE for your cause.
- Passion drives performance. Feel your cause and let it move you to action.
- Passion is contagious. Mentor others through your actions, words are a dime a dozen.
- Have patience. Passion hears ‘no’ as Not Now.
- Develop and deepen your faith. Trust that what you believe in will have followers. Somewhere. Sometime. If one person believes it, there ARE others.
- Embrace your early followers and empower them to own the passion and the cause. Leadership means stepping aside to enable the growing fire to burn freely.
- Celebrate small victories. New followers are like gold, treat them to a joyous celebration.
- Think allow, not how. Once the fire burns, controlling it can consume you. Know that your passion has ignited a cause and its ultimate outcome is driven by your tribe of similarly passionate people.
- Most importantly, be brave.
A world driven by passion is a world on fire for change.