“I will row through shit for you, America”

White Water Rowing Team
White Water Rowing Team
Reading time: 4 minutes

With the Rio Olympics only days away, we’re about to see lots of intensely passionate people performing under great pressure.

What are you passionate about that drives you to perform?

The headline from American rower Megan Kalmoe, competing in her third games, shows us her passion for the Olympics. Her press article last week critiqued the critics of the water quality in Rio (and the critics of the Olympics generally!). Her passion was barely containable, particularly when the thing she passionately cares about was attacked, she hit back.

Passion as a fuel

It seems you’ve got to have a passion! Passion is a strong emotion and just about controllable. It can be an incredible motivational fuel. Passion comes from within. It’s something that you care about deeply from the inside and it can be focused in many directions in many ways. Your own passion might be about your industry, about your organisation, about your team, your role or your work itself.

Bringing passion to your performances is hugely desirable, but where does passion come from?

In many cases the passion is not only channeled into a performance but also the preparation for it. Relentless practice, after all, requires persistent effort. Passion can be what moves you to persevere at something, despite fear, pain or unhappiness.

Elite performers are passionate about some part of what they do, even if it’s sometimes hidden within a dispassionate exterior. Roger Federer is more inwardly passionate on court than Andy Murray! But they’re both working hard to use and channel their passion in their performances. Too much passion that’s out of control, or over-emotion, will impair decision making, unnecessarily expend energy or damage performance.

So do you know what you are passionate about?

The hours of training that go into Olympic performances and the hours of your time you spend working are both worthy of considering the passion that lies behind them. What is it about what you do that you’re most passionate about and how do you channel that passion to perform better?

Try asking yourself, what work, or part of your work, are you motivated to do, that you would do it persistently and intently? Even if you’re not doing your dream job, which parts of what you do come closest to providing an avenue for your passion?

As dustman Tim Byrne said when on holiday in Spain in 2005 and quoted in Director magazine: “Rubbish is such a big part of my life that I never want to switch off. Other people look forward to a dip in the pool but I can’t wait to go out on the rounds with the lads.” Love it.