We had come to watch a concert, but it wasn't long before I caught sight of that beautiful hot dog stand. I was thirteen, wearing a bright yellow Kingsmont t-shirt. I would have bought a dog right then, but they were strictly off limits. One of the counselors had made it perfectly clear a few nights earlier. In a stern voice, he said: "If anyone goes near those snack bars, your parents are going to be called tomorrow and you will be immediately sent home."
These firm rules about junk food were in place because Camp Kingsmont was no ordinary camp--it was a fat camp. I went there in the summer of 1974 to lose twenty-five pounds so I could play on my Pop Warner football team come fall. But two weeks in, as the weekly concerts down the road started up, I already dropped the weight I needed to. So, by my thinking, there was no reason I couldn't have a hot dog. I just had to have one.
I began plotting obsessively how during the next concert I would get away from the group, buy a hot dog, and eat it without being seen. I knew I would have to get rid of that neon yellow Kingsmont shirt we all had to wear--that thing was like a tracking device and would give me away in a second. I decided that on the night of the concert, I would wear a plain light blue T-shirt under the yellow shirt. In the middle of the show, while Seals & Croft played Diamond Girl or Summer Breeze, I would walk off, go to the bathroom, and switch shirts in a private stall. Then I would race to the concession stand and buy a hot dog (with mustard).
The next week, I put my plan into motion...and it worked! I made for the woods like a bandit to wolf down my prize. I can still taste it...the thing blew my mind. I hadn't eaten anything good for what felt like years. The camp was all cottage cheese and plain chicken breasts and salads with I don't know what for dressing, but nothing with any flavor. I devoured that dog. To this day, it stands as one of the richest, smokiest, plumpest, juiciest hot dogs of all time.
Going crazy over a hot dog--or most any other kind of super delicious food--was typical for me as a kid. And as a teenager. And as a college kid. And as an adult. Today, since there are no longer any fat camp counselors around restricting what I eat, my passion for food runs rampant and free. I wake up in the morning and immediately start thinking about breakfast. I finish lunch and wonder about dinner. Food is what makes me happy. Luckily for me, it's also my career.
I believe firmly that in order to be successful in business, you have to not only love what you're doing, but have a passion for it. These are, in fact, different things. Loving what you do will get you out of bed in the morning for work, but a true, burning passion will keep you there until late at night--not because of some crisis or important time-sensitive project, but because you get lost in the magic of what you're doing. Being passionate about something is like having a mistress you're always half wanting to take off and be with (not that I've had a mistress myself; I'm just speculating).
So think about it: Is your business your mistress? Is it a long-awaited hot dog in fat camp? If not, maybe it's time to find out what is.