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The Globe and Mail

Passion alone doesn't guarantee success in business

Dream big, discover your true passion and the money is sure to follow, right? Not necessarily.

While there's no denying that the CEOs we've interviewed over the years at Women of Influence are high-achievers, I've discovered that being passionate doesn't guarantee success. But I've also learned is that if you don't take the occasional risk, you'll never achieve your goals.

It might be difficult to leave a well-paying job to chase an uncertain dream. But what if the decision wasn't so all-or-nothing? What if you could find middle ground, and apply your skills to a field that got you one step closer to your goal, but still leveraged the work you already do?

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Taking the first step is the most challenging part. I've found that the second step is substantially easier; a lesson learned from running an Ironman in 2005 in Lake Placid. When the last 9 miles felt like an impossible painful dream, I focused on putting one foot in front of the other.

You can too. You just need a plan:

  • Dream your big dream. What’s most important in this process is to focus on what you are trying to accomplish; not the job as the end goal, but the bottom line. What will you do with that job, who will you serve, what will you produce and how will that make life on Earth better in some way?
  • Reflect on your achievements. Consider the professional experience you already have that might be of value to the industry or company in that dream. What talents, skills and experience do you already have? Does your dream job have a need for that function (if not job, look bigger, at the company or industry)? Focus not on the actual job you want, but on what it accomplishes and how you can use your current skills to accomplish that same goal.
  • Take one step. You are ready to put one foot in front of the other. Do one thing that will close the cavernous void between where you are and where you want to be. It might be as simple as taking a course, joining a group or committee or taking an industry expert out for coffee. The ideal course of action is to create a solid action plan to close the whole gap. But start small if you’re feeling the constraints of reality too much to believe your passion is a viable option.

Discovering your passion and making it a reality can be long and grueling journey, but remember: It starts with one step. After that, anything is possible.

Carolyn Lawrence is the president and CEO of Women of Influence Inc., a media, event, coaching and corporate consulting company that produces over 40 inspiring, progressive and celebratory events across the country each year to connect, recognize and advance women in their careers.

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