I'm inclined to agree.
Much of the "follow your passion" mantra began with Steve Job's famous talk in 2005 - when he intoned that to become successful, all you needed to do was "follow your passion."
He said this when Apple's hottest item was the I-Pod Nano and the I-Phone was still two years away. Job's path to greatness was hardly a smooth one. After co-founding Apple, he was fired from the then-beleaguered company, and was subsequently brought back to lead it, when it was still struggling. Newport argues that Jobs found success and greatness, not through his passion, but through
non-stop persistence. His passion grew out of his success--not the other way around.
While there are undoubtedly many successful people who follow their passion from an early age--the vast majority of us stumble into our chosen fields by luck or accident. Often, passion comes
you put in the years of hard work and diligence. You discover that perfecting a skill
is satisfying, valuable and transferable. And--it gets noticed.
There's one thing, though, that all successful people share: they're very skilled at communicating their message.
As a former TV anchor and reporter, and now a Communication Trainer, I am often asked what's the key to successful communication. Do you have to
public speaking in order to be good at it? Are you
with an innate ability to speak well? The answers are NO and NOT OFTEN. Many people are scared to death when they have to speak in pubic. In fact, most
communicators are not born--they're made.
What makes them great is their
In a world of overwhelming choice, distraction and competition--the
that can set you apart is
This is not about wildly exaggerating what your company or you can do; it's about telling your story in a compelling and winning way.
How do you do that? You
practice. For example, before interviews, you gather information--both online and off--about the company or person you'll be meeting, so you can speak convincingly and probe smartly. Before giving a speech, or presentation, you carefully craft what you're going to say, edit it thoroughly, and practice like crazy. And the
best speech--is the one you write yourself--with or without help.
Much of my work with clients involves role-playing and mock interviews. You can do that, too. Just ask yourself the same questions that interviewers, investors or reporters would ask you. As a result, you will learn to stay composed when confronted with difficult questions. It will steel you for what's ahead. It's also a good idea to practice your answers out loud. There's plenty of scientific consensus that confirms when you speak out loud you're more likely to
believe what you say.
But is it
persistence that makes for greatness? Woody Allen once said that 80% of success is just showing up. That always makes me smile. For me, the phrase has always meant, "
Hang in there! " "
Stay in the game!" If you don't show up, if you don't persevere, for sure you will never win.
Of course, just hanging in isn't enough. You also have to be
deeply committed to
Roger Federer is my favorite athlete. Not only is he arguably the greatest tennis player ever, having won 17 Grand Slams, but no player has ever played with as much athletic grace and conducted himself with as much flair and dignity than Federer. He's now 35--ancient in tennis land. For the first time in his career, he's suffered through two major injuries and hasn't played most of 2016. He has not won a Slam since 2012, though he has made several finals.
That kind of drought can - and has - driven off a lot less relentlessly optimistic and well-balanced champions.
But Federer is vowing to return in 2017. His persistence
are legendary. He also has this preternatural ability not to dwell on losses.
To me, that's winning. To get ahead, to be truly great, you can't mull over disappointment. You just have to forge ahead. Focus on doing well. Persevere. Of course you have to
Dig Deep to know if a change in direction is needed, and if so, you have to make that change. (Federer was one of the last players to switch to a larger racket, and it wasn't easy.) But the
real key is to get
better and better at what you are doing, until people notice.
Which brings me to another great talent: Steve Martin. He was once asked what advice he would give to aspiring young performers. His answer was " BE SO GOOD THEY CAN'T IGNORE YOU," which was the inspiration behind the title of Cal Newport's second book. No matter what you do in life, be
so good, you are
noticed. It doesn't matter what you do--it applies to anything.
People always need the skills of skillful people. Just be the very best you can be at what you are doing at the moment, even if it's not where you think you should be. Sure enough, you will become
happy doing it. If not, you will take those superb skills elsewhere, and do something else. That's success on a grand scale!