The Power of Passion


As I work with different presenters I’m always looking for ways to help them express, in their own way, passion for their ideas.  When they do this in a genuine way it helps them connect with their audiences and adds power to their words.

Last week I saw a couple of compelling movies that illustrated how two very different individuals brought energy and dedication to their professions.  Senna is a documentary that spans Brazilian racing legend Ayrton Senna’s years as a Formula 1 driver.  The movie follows Senna’s achievements and struggles from the mid-1980s until his death at 34 during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.  Jiro Dreams of Sushi is the story of 86-year-old Jiro Ono, considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef and proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant located in a Tokyo subway station.

While Senna and Jiro succeeded in very different professions, I saw some common principles in how they approached their work.  These principles are relevant to how we approach presenting our ideas.

Humility.  They focused on creating a great experience for their customers and fans, not on their own accomplishments.  Even though Jiro’s restaurant was awarded the perfect three-star rating from the prestigious Michelin review, he was very self-critical of his work and spoke frequently about the need to “dedicate your life to mastering your craft”.

Attention to Detail.   Their passion was evident both in their performances and in their dedication to understand every element that went into those performances.  Senna was constantly working with his team to fine-tune his race car and expressed “… a great desire to improve… If my growth slows I am not happy”.  Jiro believed that “every meal (I create) has to be better than the last time”.

Resilience.   The path to the top was not an easy one for Jiro or Senna.  Jiro left home when he was 9 years old, apprenticed at sushi shops and even survived a heart attack at age 70 as he built an amazing 77-year career.  Senna fought his way through the physical, mental and political challenges of driving on the go-kart and Formula 3 circuits before finally breaking into Formula 1 racing in the mid-1980s.   He saw the good and bad sides of racing, and still loved the sport.

These films inspired me to look at how I approach my work and my presentations.  If you’ve seen them, tell me what you think.  If you haven’t then take a look and send me your thoughts.

What are your favorite movies that address the theme of ‘overcoming adversity to achieve great things’?