Finding the Passion

July 31, 2010
Written by Brian Minter
We can’t change what’s happened so far in the big picture or in our personal relationships, but we have a huge antidote available to us in the form of passion. Whereas an “emotion” is a reaction of love, hate, anger or happiness that is often uncontrolled and is expressed in either negative or positive ways, I define “passion” as a powerful feeling of excitement and enthusiasm about life in general and a consistently positive attitude overall. It’s a sentiment that will not only propel you forward in your personal life but also in your garden centre.

Passion is something we all have, but it quickly gets pushed down, buried in the uncertainty and challenges of our lives and the world in which we live. It is different for each of us and it can affect and influence those around us. It can take us to great heights; as Malcolm Gladwell points out in his book The Outliers, which benchmarks 10,000 hours of passionate discussion and practice, it can take us beyond the ordinary to a higher plain of greatness.

To position ourselves in the best possible place to become passionate about anything, there needs to be a strong desire to leave our comfort zones. Passion and comfort are not compatible. We need to be able to withstand criticism from others. We must have an appetite for risk because safe harbours are no port for the passionate. Passion does not follow the crowd and we must be willing to accept failure along the way. We need to be both mentally and physically fit because passionate people create, cause and experience lots of stress. Passion requires endless perseverance and the ability not to take ourselves too seriously. Most passionate people I know are just a little bit off-centre and that’s a good thing!

So what reignites the passion that the world beats out of us? One thing we can all gain inspiration from is a great world leader. Nelson Mandela suffered greatly from his incarceration in the fight for South African democracy and yet he maintained such passion for doing the right thing for his people in creating a new vision for harmonious relationships between the non-white and white populations. The Dalai Lama, in his quest for self-government in Tibet, has a quiet passion exhibiting both humility and selflessness. I hold Walt Disney in the highest esteem for following his vision for a mouse!  His passion resulted in an escape to “the happiest place on earth” for people from all over the world.
On a more personal level, each of us can have passion ignited by family, by people we know, or someone we suddenly become aware of. Children and grandchildren usually top the list, but there are so many passionate unsung heroes out there that can inspire us to higher levels.

Jim Collins’ book, Good To Great, offers some critical insights into greatness.  Understanding that the enemy of “great” is “good” is the first step. Truly great achievements are accomplished mostly by teamwork with an outstanding but humble and selfless leader who nurtures others and inspires them to higher levels. The lesson here is to mobilize a quiet but shared passion that is coaxed, controlled and focussed. In a great business model there is a clear vision, a strategic plan to achieve that vision, and a passionate team that will take that vision to its highest level.

Finding the “new” is now a passion for many folks and as a matter of fact, almost everyone is looking for today’s basket of “new toys.”  Although lots of new plants and products are being introduced each year, only a few of them make the cut. The passion of discovery must be tempered with market and product intelligence.  Discovering new trends and catching them at the right position on the curve is a passion shared by many. The passionate trenders are pushing the envelope for new varieties that adapt well to containers and provide new, more exotic plant varieties, like Tomaccio tomatoes and new flavours for culinary use like Asian veggies and new herbs. It’s all about new, exciting and more relevant veggies.

Creative folks find passion in design, display merchandising and constant seasonal change. Give them the freedom to create and they will not only take things to a whole new level, but by taking the entire store to a higher “experience” will inspire customers – and everyone will have fun doing it! 

We have a great industry, but sometimes we just need to get out to see and experience other businesses. Joining boards of both profit and not-for-profit organizations is a wonderful way to understand and appreciate how other businesses and the corporate world really work. This sector has lots to offer in terms of governance, management and administrative experience that can be fascinating as well as relevant and most beneficial when applied to our own operations. 

Opportunities to volunteer are everywhere and groups are always in need of great people. It is not only a learning experience, but it is also important to give back to your neighbourhood, community, and country. Connecting to both related and non-related associations can further deepen your understanding and broaden your scope of knowledge concerning those other groups. International meetings of these groups offer amazing opportunities to learn about different cultures and their approaches to so many avenues of the plant world.

Growing yourself in new and exciting areas of education can also be pretty inspiring.  Life long learning can bring great pleasure and often you’ll find a passion you never knew you had when you venture into these new areas.

In a world that’s full of challenges, difficulties and serious issues, passion is the antidote for much of it. There is so much negativity magnified by the media that only those who are positive and passionate can put the world back in the right perspective. Whether it be family, personal, or business, being passionate about all you do takes all things to a new and better level – so go and find it, keep it lit and glowing!

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