You taught me to be nice, so nice that now I am so full of niceness, I have no sense of right and wrong, no outrage, no passion. ~Garrison Keillor
Passion scares us, doesn’t it?
Passion in other people is such a polarizing characteristic. Between my own two ears, I can admit that I think Olympians are nuts. They spend all their waking hours practicing, honing and repeating their routines over and over again. And the only thing I can think of that would drive someone to that level of repetition, that level of obsession, is passion.
Mommy Taught Me to be Nice
Passion scares because it’s not nice! Passion forces us to make judgments and decisions. By claiming to be a fan of the University of Michigan, I am deciding to not support other collegiate teams.
Is that “nice” of me to not support the other colleges?
Of course, this is a piddly little analogy. But extrapolate the thought out: if I am passionate about my family, I am expressly NOT passionate about others’ families. This is not to intimate that I (or you, dear reader) shouldn’t care about those around me. It is simply to point out that my passion for my family drives me to lengths far greater than what I would extend myself for others’ families.
And that’s not nice.
As children, we were taught to be nice. As a father to a couple of young men in process, I am repeating this training. My young men are learning what it means to be nice to each other, to their parents, grand parents and everyone else. But this training in niceness needs to be tempered with a healthy understanding of tolerance.
Being nice to the point of losing your grasp of right and wrong, black and white is to obliterate any personal responsibility one should feel. If all is relative…if all is nice, then there is no standard by which ANYONE can claim this is better or that is better; this is good or that is bad.
An Overdose of Niceness
You ever run into someone who just effervesces niceness? I mean, is SO nice, you come away with one of two opinions:
- There’s an ulterior motive behind the niceness;
- You think they have no idea what THEY believe themselves.
Frankly, I believe many people can put up with passionate folks simply because you know where they stand. They are almost like a lighthouse from which you can draw your own bearings. Think Al Gore and the environment or Rush Limbaugh and politics. You KNOW where those two stand: they allow themselves to BE the label of their passion.
Folks right down the middle of any issue or topic are just flat out milquetoast. Kinda like pushing a string or limp noodle.
Nice and Business Don’t Mix…Do they?
I would argue that there is no way that a passionate businessperson could be nice to anyone standing in their way! Gary Vaynerchuck is PASSIONATE about wine. Check out what his passion did for his family’s business, Wine Library:
Customers depended on Gary for his advice and within a five year time period, Wine Library grew from a $4 million dollar business to a $45 million business.
And really, who can blame Gary? I mean, I like a good, solid bordeaux as much as the next guy. In fact, maybe a bit more. But Gary’s passion for the grape goes beyond a great bottle with great friends. He wants everyone to enjoy the grape and understand the grape in a fun, non-stuffy way.
Is he “nice” to competitors? Ummmm… Nope! He doesn’t pour himself into their efforts. He is passionate about wine and is doing all he can to bring more attention to his family’s business….not his competition’s.
What are you passionate about? What gets your blood pumping? Are you doing what makes your blood pump or are you simply limping from day to day?
“When you have a job, you can’t wait for the day to end. When you have an occupation, you can’t wait for the day to start!”
The real estate profession gets my blood moving. Sales, marketing, technology and solving folks’ real estate needs has been a great substitute for my political addiction!