As the stories of highly successful business leaders suggest, dreams must be charged with passion to have a chance to turn into reality.
Take Herb Kelleher, co-founder and former CEO of Southwest Airlines, who stands out as a visionary for creating the most profitable airline in the United States. Kelleher became a role model for every employee with his hands-on approach and personal intensity. While his competitors sat behind mahogany desks in their corporate offices, Kelleher regularly loaded luggage onto planes, filled cups with ice while flight attendants took drink orders and entertained the passengers with his down-to-earth sense of humor. What airline CEO would tolerate flight attendants dressing up as bunnies on Easter and wearing turkey suits for Thanksgiving? “Our people are so energetic” said Kelleher, “they couldn’t be replicated.” Kelleher knew that any airline could copy Southwest’s business plan, but no competitor could copy the fervent passion that’s become an integral part of the company’s culture.
Here is a two minute video of a Southwest airline employee turning a boring safety announcement into a fun rap that gets cheerful applause from the passengers.
Another example is the founder of the highly successful Celestial Seasonings Tea Company, Mo Siegel. When he was 21 he dreamed about becoming a millionaire by the age of 26 and he reached his goal one cup of tea at a time. He told me how he harvested herbs to create his first healthy blend called MO’s 36 and quickly expanded his line of teas, including the famous Red Zinger. Mo made his first sales trips in an old Datsun, visiting stores and selling them on carrying his herbal teas. He infused his company with his dream of contributing to a better world saying, “We believe that in order to make this world a better place in which to live, we must be totally dedicated to the endless quest for excellence.” Siegel tapped into the same pool of passion as Kelleher. Another success factor in Mo Siegel’s life is his passion for climbing mountains. Read this amazing story of his conquests and near misses.
Or take Michael Dell, who started assembling computers in his college dorm based on the idea of building direct relationships with his customers. I remember interviewing Michael when he was only 27 years old, and his sales were just over $2 billion. What struck me was his boundless curiosity in looking at every business opportunity in a new way. Dell is a Zen master of relentless, no-holds-barred, ongoing improvement.
One of his key management principles is a business process improvement program where employees are encouraged to make the business more efficient and responsive to their customers, and individual team members are given control over having their ideas implemented in the company. In the internal document titled “The Soul of Dell” the focus is on winning. “We have a passion for winning in everything we do. We are committed to operational excellence, superior customer experience, leading in the global markets we serve, being known as a great company and great place to work and providing superior shareholder value over time.”
Unjaded by a long string of winning, the Chairman of the $60 billion company has a relentless passion for reaching higher, claiming “there is so much more to be done.”
Questions to ask yourself:
- Are you curious about what the world would be like if you could turn your dream into reality?
- What is the source of your passion? To win, to serve, to transform the world, to make a difference?
- Are you willing to pour your heart and soul into turning your idea into reality and do all the tough and dirty work that comes with it?
- Are you dedicated to an endless quest for excellence?
- Do you seek out mentors who have fought tough battles against mediocrity and won, so you can learn from their example?