According to Gallup, 55% of U.S. workers are not engaged at work, link below. Granted this is 2012 data, but I believe it likely true today.
Why? Why are people so disengaged? I think one plausible answer is Passion. It seems we have taken passion out of business. I also believe most people want to be part of something bigger than themselves.
How do we know we have lost our passion?
1. We dread work on Sundays. I hope you never have to experience this dread. It will truly suck your soul dry. Those of you who know this feeling, then you know, life has to be more, and you have lost your passion.
2. We struggle with focus. How do you contribute to society? If the best you can do is give a reiteration of your performance goals, then you have lost your passion.
3. We are not proud of our work. Pride is a reflection of your accomplishments or efforts. This is the trigger to grit. Meaning you develop perseverance and determination. Without this, you will undoubtedly experience points one and two above.
I continually look to my past for direction. My Dad was passionate about a number of things, but two really stand out. The first is dairy cattle and the second is the FFA.
Let’s chat a little about dairy cattle. What a strange focus, right? Actually, it makes perfect sense. From a very early age, he was fascinated with science. He studied animal husbandry which led to a couple of degrees from the University of Arkansas and a career start as a dairy farmer. He applied science to his farm and quickly became a nationally renowned Guernsey breeder.
Note: For those of you unfamiliar with dairy breeds, just a couple quick notes. Dairy cattle provide our milk products. Beef breeds provide the majority of our meat products. Guernsey, a dairy breed, are the brown and white spotted cows. In fact, one of the cutest statements from a young fair visitor I have ever heard while growing up showing cattle was, “Mom, look at the Dalmatian cows.” Adorable. Dalmation dairy would be the Holstein breed. But I digress.
My Dad was serious about his cows. He truly enjoyed most days. He approached the work with curiosity, determination and endurance. He was up early every morning to milk and care for the herd before going to his “day job”, teaching vocational agriculture. He was an avid reader of association publications. In fact, he was proud, very proud, of his herd. We showed at local, state, regional, and national exhibitions. And yes, we won often.
I can remember showing at the Tulsa state fair in 1980 something. I had three Guernseys in my string. My brother had several as well. Of course, my Dad was the breeder and had researched matings and nutrition for the premier cow. I had an aged cow entry. Her name was Qualeta, yes, I struggled in naming my cows. Regardless, she had peformed well for me and was one of my Dad’s favorites. He knew everything about her and had taught me well on how to position her for a judge as she had been part of our family for nearly 6 years. Truthfully, I had discounted her. Typically the purple circle was devoted to the younger cows somewhere between 2 and 4 years of age. So this was a long shot for her. But she enjoyed the shows. She loved getting to eat the good stuff. Ha
My Dad had us there early to prep. He was cheerful to all the other exhibitors. Sometimes I wondered if he was busy leveraging his cheerful demeanour as a method to gain competitive intel. He sized up competition well and taught us insights on getting our show string noticed. He believed shows were tough at times, as we often had cows that misbehaved, the weather never cooperated, the cows would go on hunger strikes, we struggled getting into the wash bay at good times and always seemed to leave soaked by an unobservant neighbor in wash bay, etc.
But he was determined to bring home blue ribbons. He had grit!
Back to my story. I competed well that day, but didn’t seem to acquire the blue ribbon I was after. It was time for Qualeta to make her appearance. My Dad ushered me quickly and told me to be first in arena. I did. I competed hard. I had my insights. Dad gave me signals from the fence. I kept the judges attention. And yes, I won blue. But my story doesn’t end there. As I walked my precious cow out of arena I caught Dad’s eye. He gave me signal to lift Qualeta's head, to slow her down. What? My class was over. But I trusted him. I quickly slowed Qualeta’s trot. I lifted her head and casually shifted my stance from walking along side her to back in a leader position. That’s when I noticed why he signaled me. The judge was still watching her. I let everyone walk out ahead of me and I showed her all the back to the barn. Strange…..
But my Dad knew what he was doing.
An hour later it was time to compete for overall breed champion. Same judge. I was last one in as I had the oldest entry. I walked her in slowly and the judge quickly went to her. Oh my….. this is starting to make sense. He liked her. She was on that day. It’s like she was winking at him. He took no time. Tapped her on the rump as breed champion. I was grinning. I found Dad’s eyes. Signals were still there. I showed her out yet again.
The next day we showed for supreme champion. That means all breeds. Qualeta represented the Guernsey breed. Dad improved his strategy. This time, I wore white gloves. He wanted that judge to remember her. I didn’t win the Supreme Champion, but I did win the Reserve Supreme Champion. Let me remind you, winning with an aged cow is rare, winning Reserve Supreme Champion unheard of! All of this happened because my Dad knew his business, was proud of his herd, was determined and creative and above all had grit. He instilled that grit in us, as well as hundreds of young people in Lincoln Arkansas who attended his vo-ag program.
So how does this look in business today? We need to find the thing in life that brings out grit. I feel this is a struggle. We have some entitlement in our work cultures. What we need is that pride in what we bring to the table and be willing to work long hours, learn more, strive to be better and find perseverance.
My challenge to you would be to find that thing in life that you brings out your pride. AND make grit part of your tradition. Teach others how to live the grit life!
Leave me comments on how you feel we can find our passion.....