“Every morning in Africa a Gazelle wakes up,
It knows it must run faster than the fastest Lion or it will be killed
Every morning in Africa a Lion wakes up
It knows it must outrun the slowest Gazelle or it will starve to death
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Lion or a Gazelle
When the sun comes up you’d better be running”.
I had the good fortune of meeting and getting to know one of the master coaches of the VFL /AFL the late Tom Hafey a four time premiership coach with Richmond in the late sixties, early seventies, I was fifteen at the time and I had a keen eye on Tommy’s second eldest daughter Karen. And that was Tommy’s favourite quote.
I’d use any excuse at all to lob at Tommy’s place in Beaumaris, I was in awe of the man and of course pretty keen on his daughter, although many would suggest I was batting way out of my league in my pursuit of Karen.
Tommy was a simple man who loved his football, he wasn’t much of a player, in his time at Richmond he managed just 67 games for the mighty Tigers, mainly in the back pocket. That said, its 67 more games than I ever played. But Tommy was passionate, passionate about life, passionate about football, family and anything else he turned his hand too.
Tommy would get up every morning rain, hail or shine, be it mid-summer or even on the coldest of Melbourne winter mornings and take a swim in Port Phillip Bay. If you haven’t ever taken a swim in the bay mid winter try it just once. It’s so cold it’d freeze the balls of a brass monkey. However it leaves you feeling incredibly energized, so much so you feel like superman if only for a few hours.
According to the philosopher Henry David Thoreau “most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to their graves with the song still in them”. Not Tommy, he squeezed every ounce out of his life and had a huge impact on many.
Tommy was passionate about life and he showed me how critically important passion is. There have been times in my life where I’ve lived that life of quiet desperation, however, and fortunately there have also been times when I have had amazing passion for the job or project at hand.
I was incredibly passionate about my eight years with the St Kilda F.C where we undertook the job of putting the Saints on the map, we were bold, courageous and daring and those attributes often create the momentum required to move mountains.
I was passionate too about my businesses Icon, Ambit, Ajilon and Phoenix four businesses I led from scratch to mega million dollar sales to multi nationals. Without passion we would have been just another also ran.
My message, based on thirty years of experience in business, sport and life is simple. If you’re not passionate about your job, leave it and get a new one, one you can love. If you’re not passionate about your partner, fix it or get a new one. If you’re not passionate about yourself, buckle in and prepare yourself for that life of quiet desperation.
I can almost hear you scream “but I’ve got a mortgage”,” I’ve got kids at private school to pay for” and a dozen other reasons why you can justify staying put in your sloth. However it doesn’t need to be that way.
I promise you on your deathbed you won’t regret the things you did, its far more likely you’ll regret the things you didn’t.
There is a wonderful book I read a few years ago called “The Element” by noted UK author and academic, Sir Kenneth Robinson. If you do nothing else in your pursuit of passion, read it. It will provide you with the stimulation and context to make you a better parent, employee, neighbour and person.
Good luck in your pursuit of passion – it’s a fundamental ingredient, its free, it doesn’t require a degree and it leaves everything else in its dust.