Leadership Tactic #81: Passion

This entry could double as a Confessions entry, so I’m going to tag it as such.

Here’s my confession: I’m 32 years old, and I just learned the true meaning of passion about an hour ago.

It’s not what you’re thinking (I’m assuming that you were thinking that I was referring to my hipster mermaid fantasy finally being fulfilled). But sure, let’s make this sexual: I’m not a passionate lover. I often check out when I’m kissing someone. My mind wanders to other things. It’s not that I don’t enjoy kissing. It’s that I’m really bad at getting swept away in the passion of the moment.

This past weekend, my friend and food truck owner Eric talked a lot about how you need to be truly passionate about food to open a food truck or restaurant. If you do it for the money, you’re not going to survive. Because it’ll take a while for the money to be there, and even when it’s there, it’s probably not as much as you were hoping for. The only thing that is going to keep you going every day is if you truly believe in what you’re doing.

That makes perfect sense. But like I said, it wasn’t until an hour ago that I truly understood what passion is.

Before I go there, let me back up to when I ran the Viticulture Kickstarter campaign a few months ago. Some of the feedback I got early on was that I needed to show more passion for the project. Fortunately that wasn’t something I had to fake or pretend–I truly was passionate about Viticulture, and I made more of an effort to show that excitement. But it didn’t come inherently to me.

And yet I’ll say this: I love people who can’t contain their joy. I love people who laugh easily and often and for the hell of it. I love people who cry when their favorite baseball team loses. Basically, I love people who aren’t trying to be cool and reserved all the time.

This almost brings me to an hour ago. Before I go there, I need to tell you about Tom Vasel. Tom is the most famous board game reviewer. Period. That may not seem like a big deal, but his video reviews get tens of thousands of hits on YouTube. People listen to Tom. They trust Tom. They seek out his opinion whenever he has one.

Why is this? There are TONS of board game reviewers out there. I follow many of them, and I highly respect a number of them. What makes Tom stand out? It’s not just one factor–Tom has played thousands of games, he makes polished, succinct video reviews, and he isn’t afraid to share his true opinion. But there are other reviewers who do those things. What makes Tom particularly successful?

It hit me last week when I was listening to one of his reviews: Tom is unapologetically passionate about board games. He LOVES them, and it shows in every one of his reviews. It’s in his voice and on his face and in his descriptions of gameplay and mechanics. You get excited about games by listening to Tom be excited about games.

That brings me to an hour ago. During dinner I watched a great documentary called Indie Game: The Movie. It follows a few independent video game developers as they make their games and release them. It’s fascinating, moving, and a little heartwrenching.

In addition to following the game developers, the camera often cuts to industry insiders and reviewers to get their perspective on video games. At one point late in the movie, the camera shows one of those reviewers talking to one of the developers. As I watched the scene, I was entranced. There was something about the guy–this nondescript, middle aged, bald game reviewer–that made him so much more interesting than the other reviewers.

You guessed it: He was unapologetically passionate about video games. He gushed about the game in the form of tons of f-bombs and hyperboles, and it was awesome. That’s the guy I would read/watch if I was into Xbox games. No question.

So I guess this is the story of how I learned the true meaning of passion from a nondescript, middle aged, bald game reviewer. Hm. Even I didn’t see that coming.

What are you so passionate about that you can’t hold it in? If you’re a somewhat non-emotive person like me, what do you wish you could be more outwardly passionate about?