“I’m not looking for the best players, Craig. I’m looking for the right ones,”
Said Herb Brooks, 1980 Olympic Gold Medal Hockey Coach, to Craig Patrick, his assistant coach — from the movie Miracle.
This seems so clichéd, full of such common sense, and an easy principle to grasp, yet time and time again, businesses do the opposite, ignoring the person or player who would be best for the organization, and instead focusing on the all-star candidate, only to realize far too late that instead of making the team better, the opposite happens.
So, what exactly does the “right” team member look, sound, and act like? In my experience, it comes down to one word — passion.
Make no mistake here, I want all-star players, full of talent and experience, but having all of this and no passion for the job, position, or work will ultimately lead to failure. I do not believe that being talented and having passion are characteristics that are mutually exclusive. These types of individuals are more difficult to find, and ultimately we settle for one or the other.
In my experience, people with passion work harder, are more creative, and willing to take smarter risks. They see beyond the here and now; they are in it for the long ha
Apathy makes excuses, passion finds a way.
Imagine if Steve Jobs, a man with both passion and talent, had simply resigned himself, like the entire music industry seemingly had, to the fact that music would be stolen forever and technology had ruined things. Jobs saw something quite the opposite — that technology could actually save the industry. There were plenty of talented people who had been looking at solving this issue, but none had the passion for creating iTunes, or the commitment to convince everyone in the industry to trust him.
Passionate individuals believe deeply in the mission of the team and company. If one has passion, they will look for all the potential ways to solve problems, seeking the best and not just the easiest path forward. They will stay the course, even in the toughest and most demanding of times.
A few years ago, I was interviewing a woman named Lisa. This was her seventh interview with the company and her third with me. I liked her; she was smart, creative, and had the right experience, but something was missing — passion. She said all the right things; but I just couldn’t discern whether when things got tough, if she’d be able to push through the turmoil. I needed someone in the position who could handle its constant challenges while managing all the difficult personalities encountered daily. I needed someone who could and would fight to make things better. I needed someone who is passionate.
I looked at Lisa and said, “This is your seventh interview. Why haven't you been hired yet?” Her response changed the game. She looked at me, stood up, and pounded the conference table while she said, “I can do this job!” It was an epic moment.
I hired her on the spot. She, indeed, had passion. Lisa is in her tenth year with the company and to this day, I consider her one of my top five best hires ever.
Here’s another example of why focusing on passionate team members can transform your organization.
You may or may not be familiar with a baseball catcher named Kyle Schwarber. He was in his second year of professional baseball with the Chicago Cubs when he sustained what most believed was a season-ending injury. And, of course, this happened to the Cubs. After all, this was a baseball team that made losing an art; it had been 108 years since they had won the World Series. Bad luck had followed them for over a century.
Theo Epstein was the new General Manager of the team, hired to turn this franchise into a winner. How might he accomplish such a Herculean task? Here’s what he said recently in an interview on 60 Minutes:
“So, early in my career, I used to think of players as assets, statistics on a spreadsheet which I could use to project future performance and measure precisely how much they were going to impact our team on the field. I used to think of teams as portfolios, diversified collections of player assets, paid to produce up to their projections to ensure the organization’s success.”
But, that philosophy never won a championship.
So, with their first pick in the draft, the Cubs chose Kyle. Here’s why Theo decided to hire Kyle. “He would run through a wall in order to catch a ball. He would attack any obstacle that faced the team.” During an interview, Epstein threw a question at Kyle about the knock that his skills as a catcher and fielder weren’t up to par. “Schwarber said, ‘Well, (bleep) that, I’ll show them. I’m going to prove those mothers wrong.’ And Epstein went on, ‘Whoa, that’s the fight we want to see.’”
He had passion.
If you don’t know the rest of the story, Kyle spent the rest of the season rehabbing and made it back just in time for the World Series when the Chicago Cubs finally broke through and won.
Here’s what Chicago manager, Joe Maddon, had to say about Kyle, “without Kyle, the Cubs would not have won the World Series.”
Seems like hiring passion was a good strategy.
If you’re in a job where you can’t seem to find any passion, I implore you to move on. You’re only holding yourself and the organization back from greatness.
Chris Mefford is a former VP at the Dave Ramsey organization. He is a respected author and business coach. In his role at Dave Ramsey, Chris helped guide the company to earn recognition as one of Nashville Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” for eight consecutive years.
Chris has coached leaders from businesses and non-profit organizations nationwide. He offers his expertise and insight to senior executives and small business entrepreneurs to build better corporate cultures, turn around underperformance, hire key employees, implement efficient processes, manage finances, and implement the organization’s goals.
Chris has a passion for small business and entrepreneurs. As a business coach, he has been in the trenches for years. He lives and breathes business every day and has a proven track record of building successful departments and companies.
To get out his message, Chris has started, hosted, and produced two top ten iTunes podcasts for business: EntreLeadership and Leadership University. Contact him to see how he can help you personally reach your goals and revolutionize your business.
Current COO of Standard Behavior Digital. Past VP for Dave Ramsey. MBA. Business Coach. Author. I’m passionate about fixing businesses & growing leaders.