The “Encore Effect”

UPDATED: September 8, 2009
PUBLISHED: September 8, 2009

Remarkable performance isn't just about what we do; it's also about how we do it. Passion is the fuel that lets us "set ourselves on fire." If you are going to get the marketplace excited about your brand—about you—you have to get people excited about who you are and what you do. Remember, no one will be more passionate about your performance than you are yourself. The good news is passion can be created and stoked. It's up to you to do so.

Cultivating Passion

I believe passion can be developed and cultivated. Here are five things you can do to increase your passion over time.

Study and learn. You can go a long way toward becoming a passionate performer by buying the best books, subscribing to the best magazines, and going to free university lectures through Apple's iTunes U (podcasts from MIT, Stanford, Duke, Berkeley and other top universities). There is no shortage of ways to become an expert in your field— and grow more passionate in the process.

Use small achievements or successes to fuel larger ones. Remarkable performances are like losing weight. Which goal sounds more achievable—losing one pound per week for a year or losing 52 pounds? The result may be the same, but, psychologically, these goals are as different as night and day. Focus on achieving a remarkable performance today, then another one tomorrow.

Look to other passionate people as role models. Reach out to people you respect for their passion and performance. Start a group of like-minded people with similar goals. Avoid the people who act as "blockers." Remember, passion begets passion.

Plug the leaks. Examine those areas in your life where your resources (your time, talent and skills) are not being put to the best use. A student once asked Albert Einstein how many feet were in a mile and he replied that he didn’t know. Seeing the student’s amazement, Einstein replied, “I make it a rule not to clutter my mind with simple information that I can find in a book in five minutes.” Don’t spend time on things that diffuse your focus and don’t advance your goals.

Make passion part of your life. Where the head goes, the heart will follow. You may not feel passionate, but when you decide you are going to become a passionate person, you will become one. If you act the part and succeed in the part, one day you will discover that you have become the part! If you deliberately and consciously act with passion, your heart will follow.

The Insights of a Passionate Performer Passionate people know for whom they are performing. Every performance has an audience. Passionate people know their audience inside and out. They know exactly who will invite them back for a repeat performance. Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has said, “Don’t fear your competitor—they’ll never send you money. Fear your customer.” Write down what you know about the main clients, customers or VIPs in your life. You can perform remarkably well for them only if you know what they consider remarkable to be.

Passionate people know how to perform remarkably. Passionate people innovate, create and change the way business is done. They are willing to break the rules. But to do that, they first have to know what the rules are. What can you do differently in your performance in the next 60 days? Try to become known as the most innovative person in your group.

Passionate people know why they perform. We all have a myriad of motives for doing the things we do: money, pride, prestige, acclaim, security, fear. Passionate people are driven by more powerful motives: their sense of self-worth, self-satisfaction and self-fulfillment. As they begin meeting their personal expectations, they also meet the expectations of others. Does someone else’s approval mean more to you than your own? How would your passion increase if you were driven by self-worth and self-approval?

Passionate people know what their performance needs to look like. A result that is off by an inch today will be off by a mile in the future. Passionate people understand their goals and objectives—and focus on meeting them. Many undesired results are the consequence of lack of focus. What could you do to be a more supportive parent, spouse or friend? How much more effective would you be if you knew what your family and friends need from you? You can go beyond satisfying your audience only when you know what they want.

Reprinted from The Encore Effect: How to Achieve Remarkable Performance in Anything You Do. Copyright © 2008 by Mark Sanborn. Published by Broadway Business, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House Inc.