PERSPECTIVES: NUMBERS COUNT. PASSION TRIUMPHS

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“Act your Passion – not your age”.

“PERSPECTIVES” are excerpts from my forthcoming book of the same name, available from Partridge Publications Q3 2015

They say you cannot manage what you cannot measure.

I am a numbers man. I love maths. And I am passionate about things. Music. Books. Movies. Plants. Animals. Nature. And sometimes about people. Sometimes they clash. Numbers and Passion, that is.

The top management of the previous two IT companies I worked for were taken over by numbers people – one with a doctorate in numbers. And they started chasing numbers. Turn-over. Sales figures. The share price. Not replacing staff who resign but sharing the workload amongst those who remained. All done to make the numbers look better. Whilst these soul-crunching execs made the shareholders happy, they lost some very passionate people in the process.

A business is made up of people, not numbers. I saw a whole accounts department – who sat on the other side of a partition, and people I worked with daily and respected for their diligence, late hours, personal sacrifice – closed down and their jobs outsourced to somewhere where wages were lower – to save money. One person was a widow who lost her on-duty policeman husband the previous Christmas Day in an accident. She had two school-going kids. And had been working there for 10 years. Our executive flew to London once a month – Business Class – “to report numbers”. And the ticket cost the same as the combined monthly salaries of the four people who were laid off.

Shareholders are just one group in a symbiotic community of four, or more. There are clients. Worker bees. And management. All four make a business go round. And when there are actually real products, such as food, involved, then we must include farmers, truck drivers, and others in the “pip-to-plate” supply line equation.

Will there ever be a Wall Street for Passion?

No!

Because you cannot trade Passion.

Let us use another example: The Olympics.

Passion is what keeps the athletes training. Through hurt. Winters. Rain. Disappointments. They may treasure two things: medals on the podium OR just participating. For every gold medalist there are perhaps 20 non-medalists. But they participate in the same lofty event. Kudos to them all!

If you are world number one is it because you love running, throwing the discus or javelin, jumping high or long – or just being number one and occupying the highest place on the podium?

You will be on a personal high after every good run, throw, jump – but perhaps only once on the podium. Perhaps. And perhaps be rich afterwards. Perhaps. But think about it, what is more satisfying in the long run (or throw or jump)? The admiration and inspiration of kids? Hearing your anthem play on the podium? Or your bank account? Whichever one you choose will define you. Maybe you love them all – but can’t eat neither.

Be yourself. Because that is the person you have to live with for the rest of your life. Every morning wake up with.

Who are you? A number? Or a Passionate Human?

And as for numbers. They mean a lot. Explain a lot. But they cannot measure or explain Passion.

KEY POINTS

  • Sometimes numbers and passion clash.
  • Executives’ numbers-chase often end up losing passionate people in the process.
  • A business is made up of people – not numbers.
  • There will never be a Wall Street for Passion.
  • Everyone who participates is a winner. You don’t have to stand on a podium to be one.
  • You are defined by the choices you make – and how you act them out.

ACTION STEPS

  • Act your Passion. Not your age.
  • Be yourself. Because that is the person you have to live with for the rest of your life.

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