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Capturing Passion in the Supply Chain Profession

Technologist and innovator Steve Jobs shared his wisdom with graduates of Stanford University in a 2005 address 

You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle…

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

You can see the entire speech here:

The man had a point.  It's worth spending time to figure out what you are good at because passion shows in the job you do. However, you can't spend your entire life looking for it. Passionate people imbue their work with a quality that is measurably different than those who complete the task in order to go home. Passionate people focus on quality. They want to stamp what they do with their unique signature. They have energy and a sparkle in their eyes.  Passionate people go the extra mile automatically. By comparison, those working for just a paycheck lack engagement. There is no love, no energy, no sparkle, no extra mile.

If a team enjoys the work they are doing, you can see it. They have fun, laugh, help each other, defend each other, and even eat together (eating together brings out the tender side of people). Research proves that teams with high levels of communication produce better results.

Further, when passionate people come together, it creates a great work environment. It's contagious and spreads through the entire organization. The whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts—the dream of the best leaders and managers. 

Remember, leaders and managers are inherently different. Leaders manage people, while managers simply manage processes. Processes, ideally, are all the same and provide constant results. People, on the other hand, are much different. These emotional beings behave differently in different circumstances. Emotional connection is transformational. When people understand and empathize with each other, they help and defend each other and work together well. Resentment creates imbalance. That's why it's important that teams have leaders. When there is a great leader that truly inspires the team, sky is the limit for what the team can accomplish. 

Sometimes, it's better to take a job that arouses your passion, even if it pays less. Don't do something just for the money. Following your passion leads to being the best. People pay more for the best in business. So, if you do your job passionately, you'll get more business. In the end, it is the recipe for long-term success.

Let me share the hallmarks of passionate people: 

  • You do a great job (and people notice).  
  • You go the extra mile.
  • You are happy, and its contagious. You end up working with happier and more satisfied people. And people seek you out and want to be part of what you are doing. The momentum builds naturally.    
  • Your creativity blossoms. You come up with new ideas and you share them with others.  
  • You automatically innovate. You find new ways for doing things faster and more efficiently.  
  • Your work speaks for yourself.  Word gets around and people talk about your work, so you are recognized as a leader. Opportunities tend to find you.
  • You give more and get more. It's just good karma.  

You know that you are not passionate when:

  • You finish work just to get it done.
  • You just want to go home.
  • You don't go the extra mile.
  • You spend work time thinking about anything but work.
  • You focus on salary or payment—and compare what you make to others all the time.
  • You get distracted by compliments or rewards that others receive and resent that you are not being noticed.

In short, do what you love or learn to love what you are doing. Don't waste time on things that don't fuel your passion.

When I started my career, my dream was to establish my own factory. I studied mechanical engineering with an eye toward figuring out the best ways to manufacture products. I was crazy about cars when I was young, so my plan was to manufacture for that industry. By the time I got out of school, though, the world was talking about computers. It was a well-paid field and presented opportunities. The definition of success at the end of four-year degree was to get a job in a multinational company as a software engineer, so that's what I did. I didn't enjoy it much. I was not passionate, even though I tried. Then, I had a chance to interview with a company in the United States—so I started studying and preparing in my after-work hours. I was passionate about this opportunity and it happened fast. In a few months, I had a new company, new career, and new industry. I was programming systems to run entire distribution centers. I felt at home—no longer a stranger in the workplace. I had fun. I worked with enthusiasm and independence. I thought about what I could do to make things better for our customers. I had found a greater purpose. I was making a difference in people's lives by helping them do their jobs better. I connected emotionally with what I was doing.

The high-tech industry has a slew of examples of passionate people who did astonishing thing. All you have to do is read the early stories of really successful companies. Behind every great product and company are hard work and sacrifice. Steve Jobs was hell bent on making the best computers in the whole world. Similarly, the founder of Infosys, Narayana Murthy slogged for 10 years before making it. At Tesla, Elon Musk went almost bankrupt multiple times building his cars.

Developing great products, building great companies is incredibly hard.  No sane person would do it, or even attempt it. Passion drives this kind of success.

Passionate, determined, committed teams inspired by the great cause and emotionally connected can make miracles happen.  That is how great organizations are built and that is why often you hear great leaders and CEOs say that the most important thing in any organization is the people. 

So what is your experience? How did you build passion for your supply chain role? What were the best lessons you've learned from your leaders and mentors? Let us know in the comments section below.

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