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What is the difference in a person’s DNA that gives them the fortitude to go all the way or even beyond expectations doing their job versus those who just get by with minimal or sub-par input?

This has baffled me for over 30 years wondering why someone would feel good to give less than 100% to a project. Having had the opportunity to watch colleagues as well as family and friends, there is one common thread for success. Passion!

We have all heard from business gurus like President-elect Donald Trump– “do what you love to do and you will be successful.” Other top influencers like Oprah, Steve Jobs, or the women at this year’s Forbes Women Summit all have similar messages on being involved in their passions and being really good at what they do. That to me is where the love of your work, no matter the money, is what eventually makes you a happy, successful person.

I believe each of us has a thing called drive. Better-educated people than I can give you the correct medical reasons for this. My own experience started in my early teens when my Dad asked me to help at his office to make up a seating chart for a big military party his department was hosting. I went about the task and he would check in to see how I was doing. Back then, I had a bit of an artistic flair that took me down a path of adding little pictures on the place seating cards. In the end, he and his secretary came by and I could tell they would need to redo my work because what I thought would pass muster is not what they found acceptable. That was my first experience of doing less than excellent work for someone in need. Many years later, I found myself working for a senior military officer who was very strict and demanding about everything. Again, I was told that I needed to be better at what I was doing, regardless if other people thought he worked me like a sled dog. I still needed to be better and faster to his liking. After one mention of that to me, I realized again I needed to climb higher and be better. This went on in my early work years, where I took criticism to heart and allowed it to mold me into a disciplined worker. I came to realize that being a very good employee for others is rewarding but hard work. I became an excellent worker for whomever I was employed and saw that I became a valuable asset. The traits of being detail-oriented, and a good listener, set me up for what was next to happen.

My sister was already successful at her Wall Street trading job. She always wanted the best for all her siblings, so much so that many arguments would break out regarding our futures. But the one question she posed to me changed my life and is the reason I am very happy and thankful today.

Being invited for a weekend in the Bahamas was exciting. I was working hard for a large IT company, raising my sports-enthused son, educating myself to attain an MBA; the invite took me by surprise. Upon arrival, we ate and drank well and then settled in for some alone time on the beach. My sister’s get away for the weekend was a rarity in her high-stressed job so I appreciated that she wanted to share time with me.

About an hour into baking in the sun, she asked “If you could do anything you ever wanted, what would you do”? Wow, what a question. I couldn’t answer it. Not just then anyway. We talked a bit and she added, “well think about it and get back to me with a proposal because I have some money I would like to offer you, as a loan, to start your own business.” I couldn’t believe my ears. I was shocked, excited and very interested. On the plane ride back to Florida, I began to think about all those guru books I had read from Tony Robbins and Jeff Fox and thought to myself, if I am going to take this chance and opportunity, it would be best if I truly think hard about what is my passion.

I got my chance and like they say, the best ideas are written on a cocktail napkin. It worked for me. I found my window of opportunity and am really good at what I do. The opportunity/gift my sister gave me was again re-gifted when I offered my son the same opportunity to work in a field that is his passion.

I guess the message of my story today is to take criticism and change where you need to; let others see you have potential; read about others’ successes and their inspirational messages and dream often about what you love to do and what you will do when the right opportunity presents itself.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving. I know what I am very thankful for and wish that those who need to find their passion, do so. Now I have to teach my brother-in-law how to carve the turkey!

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