03/28/2008 02:48 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Passion Is Not Enough

I have been attempting to understand why it bugs me to hear professional motivators talk about the necessity for "passion" to be successful. Perhaps I'm just getting too old and lazy to be interested in jacking up my emotions about anything. Getting passionate about something usually seems to me like hard work. Or perhaps it's the fact that jacked-up emotional states are not something you need, or even want, to be successful.

Emotions seem much too unsteady to be associated with anything or anyone I consider truly successful. As fast as they go up, they can come crashing down. Just try to hold only a single feeling for any extended period.

I think I know what the motivators are referring to. There is a quality of intensity of commitment that resides with successful people. But rather than "passion" I would suggest the word "identification." When you really identify with something, whether it is some intended outcome or some internal standard about your reality, it creates a true motivational energy to make it happen. But that does not at all mean a hyperemotional state. There can be joy, to be sure. And identification will create incredibly focused energy when that energy is required. But most often it will manifest as calm and deliberate thinking and action. Heart and passion are different things.

How do you create that kind of "identification" that you can use to achieve success in whatever you choose? By consistently focusing on whatever you want to identify with. Running five miles in forty minutes. Having a nurturing work environment. A positive cash flow with a growing healthy reserve. Quality time with your family.

Continual focusing - and then refocusing -- on desired outcomes is the master key to success. So beyond passion, try peaceful purposefulness.

"Nothing contributes so much to tranquilizing the mind as a steady purpose--a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye." - Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

"Sober perseverance is more effective than enthusiastic emotions, which are all too capable of being transferred, with little difficulty, to something different each day." - Vaclav Havel

Give it a try this week. Choose any successful outcome that has meaning for you. Practice identifying consistently with your successful outcome. You can do it in small, simple, easy ways. You could create a visual affirmation with pictures. Or a verbal affirmation with present-tense statements in which you state that you are already living that successful outcome. Or just close your eyes and see, hear, feel yourself in that reality. It's what Olympic athletes do for a significant portion of their training. And it can work for you!