It was the 18th Century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel who said: "Nothing great has ever been accomplished in the world without passion." An assertion that, now more than ever, rings true for those wishing to build success in the modern world.
Ah passion… where does this magical energy come from; this source of inspiration which, like Steve Jobs’ “reality distortion field,” makes it possible to defy the established order and make the seemingly impossible possible? In other words, to prosper, not just survive.
From values to passion
Every leader is carries within them a system of strong values, without which, leading others would be impossible. From these values and powerful foundations emerge a deep conviction, a mission, a cause. And this cause, emerging from the rational side of the leader, is a cause they know is just and so can be placed above all other aims.
The reason a leader sees his energy increase tenfold is because he has chosen a mission. Their life now makes sense. Obstacles will only be twists along the road. The quest will undoubtedly be long, but it will never be boring because, from now on, passion resonates in them.
Reason and passion: is it possible to marry the two? Even Descartes, our most rigorous thinker and mathematician, author of the Discourse on the Method, thinks so. A few years after this work, he wrote The Passions of the Soul, which, far from opposing spirit and passion ended up concluding they were entwined: "Even those who have the weakest of souls could acquire absolute empire over all their passions, if enough industry was employed to train and guide them." The leader knows how to weaponize his passion in order to shape the world and challenge reality in order to influence it.
Passion leads to energy, energy leads to success
No matter the cause, each leader’s choice is above all a rejection, the constructive refusal to accept the world as it is. This "positive refusal" is the antithesis of fatalism. The passionate tell themselves “The world does not conform to my inner vision? Well then, I will transform it!”
By allying long time vision with energy and determination, a leader will overcome the obstacles of complexity, indifference, pessimism and scepticism. By believing more fervently in their mission, they will vanquish all enemies.
Conventional wisdom states that passion is contagious, is one of its main features even. This viral dimension gives the leader fantastic persuasive influence. It is not with the mind and by reasoning that we convince, it is with passion and emotion. What passion injects into a noble cause is enhanced legitimacy, credibility, and is the very lifeblood of true leadership.
However, building lasting success requires more than one person’s passion, whether it's building a business that can impact its ecosystem or a sport’s team that can conquer the world. Sustainable success is based on a group of passionate people, not just one individual.