October 2012

Shannon Wells

Better Business | by Neil Ducoff


Don't Give Up on Your Dream

Where's that fire in your gut? No. I'm not referring to heartburn. I'm referring to that deepest level of passion that pushes you to fight for what you believe in, to achieve your wildest dreams - to captivate the imagination and spirit of those around you.

If quantum physics is about manifesting thoughts into things, passion is about personal conviction and energy to achieve the extraordinary.

Without passion, manifesting is nothing more than daydreaming. When I get an idea that ignites and feeds my deepest passion, get out of my way because something big is going happen.

You can join me on my journey if you're committed to work hard and go the distance. Stay home if you're looking for an easy ride.

I'm an entrepreneur and business leader like you. I have my ups and downs. Some of my "ups" are truly incredible where I get into this groove of extreme creativity and productivity.

And then there are the "downs" where I crash and burn. One even led to depression. Fact: every "down" can be traced back to when the fire in my gut was actually heartburn and I wasn't being the no-compromise leader my company needed me to be. It happens to all leaders when they allow their passion to be snuffed out.

Here are some no-compromise thoughts to keep your passion burning bright:

Snap out of it: You may think your passion is burning bright, but what does your team really see? The stresses of leading a business can be like a fire hose putting out a birthday candle. S--t happens. People quit. Trust gets broken. Things break. Seemingly good decisions turn out to be bad. You can crawl into your cave of blame and cry, "woe is me." Or, you can stand tall, dust yourself off and take action to turn things around. Sometimes, you just rode your success wave too long and got comfy and lazy. S--t happens. Snap out of it.

Sparks surround you: I am the most fortunate leader to be surrounded by some extraordinary people whose passion for what we do at Strategies was ignited by mine. They live it everyday like I do. When my passion wanes or I wander a little off course, they reel me back in. Their sparks reignite my passion. All they are doing is keeping the flame burning bright. I live in gratitude for my team every minute of every day because their sparks are igniting that special flame of passion in those they meet, train and coach. Trust and honor the sparks that surround you.

Be self-aware: It's been over five years since my bout with depression. Looking back, those days seem surreal and dark. But it's the lessons I learned about myself that stay with me every day. I work out and ride to stay in shape and mentally sharp. I spot the early warning signs that my mood, demeanor and thinking is heading in the wrong direction. I'm human, I have my moments but I'm also self-aware enough to get back on track before I turn anyone else's day from sunny to dark. And in the end, it's my passion for what I believe in that brings me back the fastest.

Beware the dark side: Compromise, tolerating the intolerable, procrastination and accepting mediocrity has a voracious appetite to consume anything that's good. Company cultures can shift from dynamic to toxic in the flick of a switch. No-compromise leaders protect the integrity of their cultures at all costs and the single most potent protection is passion. Passion lives in the heart and mind. In companies, it inspires breakthroughs, best-in-class performance, world-class experiences, and levels of success that leave competitors in awe. Compromise passion and you're on the fast track to what could be your worst business nightmare.

It never leaves you: I've been coaching leaders for almost 40 years. I've seen leaders that were beaten down and wanted nothing more than to sell and get out. What they don't realize is their dream and passion is still alive inside them. Given a chance, a burning ember can ignite a leader's passion. One success builds on another. Pride returns. Sparks spread. Giving up on a dream that is within reach is giving up on yourself, your people and your company. If you're passion has been reduced to an ember, do something about it. What's the worst that could happen? Heck, you may even exceed your own expectations.

Neil Ducoff is the founder and CEO of Strategies, a business training and coaching company specializing in the salon and spa industry. His is author of Fast Forward, No-Compromise Leadership and Wake Up! For signed copies, go to www.strategies.com. You can email Neil at neil@strategies.com.