Brains alone won’t cut it. There are lots of people in business who achieved top grades in school and are able to effortlessly solve a medium to hard level Sudoku puzzle in under five minutes. And that’s before they’ve had their morning coffee. Family connections won’t guarantee success, either. How many people do you know of privileged birth who’ve got influential relatives and friends, yet, despite their personal network, achieve very little? Exactly. That’s because there’s more to success than brains and contacts. Having those two things on your side is without a question a big plus. But becoming a successful dealmaker requires more.
The journey a dealmaker embarks on is tantamount to climbing a mountain. One that is characteristically unforgiving and cruel. Whose ascent will take a long, long time. Where hairpin bends are the norm, not the exception. And where pitfalls and traps abound all along the way, like in an Indiana Jones flick. The dealmaker will not only be prone to regular setbacks but unenviable danger, especially the closer they get to the top. In view of this harsh reality, a brave soul will need more than a fortune cookie message to maintain high spirits. To help counter the doubts that inevitably creep in as the days pass.
They’ll need passion. (Mine is dealmaking)
Its presence in those who defy the odds and make big things happen is unmistakable; its absence in those who fail to do so unsurprising.
And it’s equally relevant to entrepreneurs, actors, artists, screenwriters and teachers.
Just what you need when the going gets tough
Passion encourages you to pursue a new deal after the last one fell through because of forces beyond your control. To launch a new business after the previous one crashed ingloriously; or to write a new film script after your last one was rejected by every agent from LA to London.
Recently, a deal I worked on for over seven months fell through at the eleventh hour as a result of the UK Referendum vote. The sting was particularly acute because the sum (i.e. Success Fee) I expected to receive was large enough to buy an apartment with. A very nice one. In London, New York or Mumbai. Cash. So when this sort of event happens, it has a way of chipping away at your morale. And in the world of high finance, deals always fall through. It’s an understanding you harbour, knowing that the next deal you work on will, again, require a large time commitment and may, again, fall through for any of a number of reasons. But you persist. You crack on, as it were.
Passion motivates you to get up after you fall, as Alfred repeatedly tells Bruce Wayne.
As for me and my deal, I picked myself up, shed a few tears in hiding and then moved on to the next deal.
Where did the romance go?
Importantly, passion also helps you persist when early excitement fades. After all, isn’t coming up with ideas the fun part? In business, that early phase is often considered the honeymoon period, after which the real work begins. Let’s face it, everyone has ideas. Implementing one is the difficult part.
An individual I know, who runs one of the most popular film festivals in the world, once told me, “I’ve seen thousands of filmmakers come through our doors and there’s one thing that unites the ultra-successful ones who’ve managed to keep producing great entertainment over the years: passion.” One of the people he was referring to made the Batman Trilogy.
A powerful force
Passion is like an avalanche. Nothing stands in its way. And you know when it strikes. It tends to elicit a “WOW!”. Maybe even a “SHIT!” if you’re too close.
Be passionate about what you do. When talking to others about it, you’ll brim with excitement. When you are working and are in your element, people’s eyes will grow wide in amazement.
I find that passion exudes a palpable energy. One I can almost taste. If I could I’d take out an empty glass jar, capture it in mid-air and store it for later consumption.
Think of Richard Branson, Steven Spielberg and George Soros. They’re not simply ‘interested’ in entrepreneurship, film or finance, respectively. What they do consumes them to the core. It defines them. They’re driven by a powerful force.
The key: maintaining passion
Each of us is passionate about something. Finding yours is the subject of another post. But assuming you’re doing what truly motivates you, there’s a chance you’ll undergo periods of apathy.
Keep in mind:
- Passion usually fades over time (the bad news)
- It’s perfectly normal (the good news)
Fear not my friends, there are techniques to help ensure healthy levels of passion.
Openness to change
You’ve heard it before but it’s one of those things that’s worth considering every now and again. Keep an open mind and be willing to change trajectories.
Many people have a set image in their mind of how things will play out when starting a new initiative, whether it’s a launching new business, writing a story plot or structuring a finance deal. They want and expect events to unfold the way they’ve planned. It could mean to build a product people will love; to write a script that will be applauded by Hollywood film producers; to propose an investment opportunity investors will fight over. But what ends up happening is that they build a product that people are indifferent to; they write a story that producers say will never become a box office hit; they discover the deal they’ve crafted doesn’t interest investors the least bit.
But those who have an open mind and are willing to deviate from the initial route are able to adapt their initiatives to changing times and external forces. You’ll find many successful people possess this ability. Best of all, it helps maintain passion.
So accept the possibility that you may need to shift directions or change your business model.
Reach out to others
Be curious and speak to people, especially those who’ve achieved success. They don’t necessarily have to be in the same field as you. You’ll learn plenty from them anyway. I bumped into Harvey Keitel one afternoon outside the Bentley dealership in Berkeley Square and he offered me the best piece of advice I’ve ever heard.
It’s an exercise that can potentially save you lots of time, help you avoid costly mistakes and enable you to look at things from a different perspective. Click here to learn how to manifest a life-changing encounter for the cost of a coffee.
Take time off and get away from the business. In fact get away from work. Go to another country if you can. If not, to a neighboring town or somewhere completely new that’s not far from where you live. Walk into a shop or museum and strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. Whatever you do, ensure it’s different to your everyday routine.
For some of you, experiencing another world through a novel may be the answer. Here’s one you may enjoy. Yes, it’s my novel :)
I often go on walks and find it a strangely powerful way to reinvigorate passions.
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