A simple formula for success


While there are many factors to achieving great results, I’ve found that one has the greatest impact.  Passion.

When I first started working, I was so excited to learn new things and attempt to master them.  Often, I could put in what felt like little effort and achieve solid results.  And then I was asked to configure a router.  Talk about painful.

No matter how much time my peers spent trying to help me, the routers didn’t sing to me the way they did for them.  Instead, those metal boxes confounded me at every turn.

At the same time the routers were driving me batty, my peers questioned my enjoyment of project management.  They didn’t understand how I could spend so much time working on project plans and contracts without going nuts.

It was in that server room, over routers and cable, that I first realized the importance of passion.  It was passion that made their fingers fly over the keyboard, and a lack of it that made mine stumble.  My own passion for all things process made weeks and months on projects fly by, but made them feel like time was dragging.

Energy can burn in a positive or negative way

Passion can create energy – it burns. Whether the energy is positive or negative is dependent on alignment.


Passion is a multiplier.  It can make a little effort go a long way.  Without it, extraordinary effort may only get marginal results.

While passion can do wonders, there is one more component necessary for an organization to ensure an individual’s or team’s efforts get the expected results.  Alignment.

As I mentioned before, I love all things process.  When I have the opportunity to make things better for an organization, my passion levels go through the roof.

I was working with a team for several years and regularly looked for ways to make us better, preparing us for upcoming customer demands.  During that time, we transitioned from a functional to matrixed team to be more flexible.  We migrated from waterfall development to an agile approach to be more responsive.  We channeled the capabilities of the team and the result was a high-performing organization.

At one point, I realized, while we wanted to continue to improve, I had to be careful not to allow my passion to adversely impact the team.  Each change needed to be focused on achieving business value, or it would just be change for change sake.

All the passion and effort in the world, if not aligned to organizational goals, may produce results…likely the wrong ones.  Lack of alignment can erode passion, so ensuring that passion is directed towards valuable endeavors is the best way to keep it flowing and the results coming.

With this in mind, the formula for success becomes:


Passion * Alignment * Effort = Results


When the trifecta happens – passion and alignment are applied to an individual’s effort – that effort can seem like it was produced by two or three.  The nature of passion is such that it can also inspire others, providing additional lift when the passion of many is brought to bear.

Imagine an organization where everyone is passionate about their work, and it is aligned to organizational goals.   The work of ten may look like a hundred!

As a leader, my mission is to find a way to unlock the passion of my team, matching their individual interests and abilities to the work at hand.  As much as my heart sings when I am passionate about my work and it provides business value, the feeling of helping others find their song is unmatched.

Might that we all find our song.