Portrait: US Army (USA) Brigadier General (BGEN) John H. Stanford
What happens when we decide to be “all in”? Why does it feel good and why is it good for us?
Recently, I had the good fortune to facilitate a board of directors retreat for a local chapter of a national charity. I was once again reassured about the level of extraordinary people we have in South Florida ready to dedicate their time and energy to help others advance.
Since the board had dedicated a half-day to the retreat, time taken out of their otherwise busy schedules, my goal was to remind them that their commitment and passion to serve was not only good for others, it was also good for them.
Our mindset is comprised of our deep-seated beliefs that drive our behaviors. As a result, we perceive and interpret the world around us as well as the world within us through the lens of these beliefs. When commitment and passion are deeply embedded in our psyche, we accept our responsibilities with a sense of accountability, energy and enthusiasm.
Obviously, that’s good for others.
But it’s good for us too. When we are committed and passionate, we are the beneficiary of all the positive feelings that come along with it. As we get focused, the path becomes clear. The obstacles more easily navigated and overcome. Our goals more easily reached. Whether it’s for a cause, a career, our team, company, customers, friends or family – commitment and passion feels good and helps us do good.
How else does feeling good translate into being good for us? According to positive psychology, the scientific study of the strengths that enable people to thrive, positive emotions broaden our scope of thinking and build our personal resources-physical, intellectual, social and psychological.
When viewed positively, commitment and passion can reduce our stress, make us more resilient, increase our performance and engagement and help us make healthier and wiser choices.
What makes us become so committed and passionate in the first place? What is the foundation of this type of mindset?
A simple four-letter word…love.
Some people reserve love for personal matters only. Never professional. I don’t. Love-the type of love that makes us go the extra mile, endure the hard conversations, do the right thing, learn from mistakes and forge ahead regardless of the hurdles, is the very tenacity and resolve we need in our workplaces today. With everything changing and disrupting at breakneck speed, today we need to find a way to demonstrate the commitment and passion that is born out of love more than ever.
In one of my favorite leadership books based on 30 years of research into the behaviors of successful leaders, The Leadership Challenge; How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations, there’s an interesting story about the relationship between love and leadership. When U.S. Army Major General John H. Stanford was asked the best way to develop a leader, his answer caught the authors off guard:
“The secret to success is to stay in love. Staying in love gives you the fire to ignite other people, to see inside other people, to have a greater desire to get things done than other people. A person who is not in love doesn’t really feel the kind of excitement that helps them get ahead and to lead others and to achieve. I don’t know any other fire, any other thing in life that is more exhilarating and is more positive a feeling than love is.”
I couldn’t have said it any better. The mindset of commitment and passion is the mindset of love. If it can help a general lead his soldiers, then it can help us lead ourselves, our teams and our communities towards success. Commitment. Passion. Love. It’s good for everyone.
General Stanford died in 1998. Inscribed on his headstone are the words, “Love ’em and Lead ’em.” He truly was a man of his word.
Jo-Aynne von Born, Certified Professional Coach