"How does someone make an impact at work and in their community?"
That was one of the questions one participant asked at my recent speaking engagements in Kenya. I had talked about the importance of knowing one's strengths - not talents - that if applied consistently in any endeavor guarantee personal and professional growth as well as both tangible and intangible rewards.
Unforgiving passion: We are talking about the kind of passion that gets into your very being. You go to bed and wake up focused on that one thing. This is deep passion that is blind to one's talents and the availability of resources. It ignores reality. Ferdinand de Lesseps' passion to connect the Mediterranean with the Red Sea was not clouded by the fact that he was not an engineer or financier. Without him, the Suez Canal, the high-seas passage that reduced travel time to the Far East by months, would have remained just a dream.
Uncompromising discipline: Nothing bears intended results as well as constant efforts regardless of prevailing circumstances. The late Pope John Paul was known for a daily routine that started at 5:30 a.m., the time he woke up. It is said that by 6:15 a.m., he was in his private chapel meditating and praying, sometimes with more than 200 pages.
Uncommon creativity: This is the kind of creativity where you use an existing resource in such a way that people wonder why they had never thought about it in the first place. Think of Richard Turere, a 13-year-old Maasai boy in Kenya who invented a system of flashing lights to scare off lions from his family's livestock. In my book, "Overcoming Buffaloes at Work & in Life," I wrote about the Denver Zoo taking three pounds of animal manure, putting it in a small container, calling it "ZOOP" and then charging us $10 for it!
Unexpected productivity: The results of your efforts lead to wow! Kellen Moore speaks of an article he read when he played football as a quarterback in high school and was looking forward to opportunities to play in college. It was written by Mike Bellotti, the former head coach of the University of Oregon football team, on the important physical attributes and skills he looked for when recruiting quarterbacks.
Moore said he had none of the listed characteristics. But his focus and desire to play college football was not diminished by what he could not control. Moore could do nothing to change his height and all the other attributes stipulated by Coach Bellotti.
Moore focused on what he could control: being the best quarterback by using what he had. He became the most successful quarterback in the history of American college football.
Undiscriminating network: The point is, you never know who has the solution to your challenges. Again, treat everybody the way you would treat your multibillionaire maternal uncle, who has no heir, is about to die and whose riches you want. The person sitting next to you can enrich your life beyond your wildest dreams. Respect him or her, learn who they are, learn what his or her aspirations are, and learn how they got to where they are.
One must wake up looking forward to doing something without focusing on limited resources or conditions beyond one's control. Your success mostly depends on how you master the above.