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Pony Tied to Boat Delacroix Island 1972 smI don’t love country music, in general. But there is a song that makes me smile; I turn up the volume and sing and dance around like no one is listening or watching, no matter if there is. I am going to take you on my special Gina journey of conversation whiplash- please try to follow- and I will explain how this song is relevant. It came to me in the middle of the night (different song- but would love to see Billy Joel in concert again someday soon) when I couldn’t sleep and was trying to calm my brain….

For its relatively small size, the audiovisual industry has more proponents, fans, enthusiasts and cheerleaders within it than many other larger industries. In fact, I argue that there are more AV evangelists than in the closely related but much larger IT cousin industry. I don’t exactly have the numbers, but I’d say that the drive to “create exceptional experiences” (thanks InfoComm AVEC) cultivates an exceptional amount of passion. This passion isn’t exclusive to a single part of the industry (although I am partial to AV in education), job function, age or gender. It seems to be something that starts as a seedling and continues to grow, like the Grinch’s heart, until it is bursting at the seams and has to be shared. It is contagious.

It is not motivation. Money can be motivating; praise can be motivating; passion can often be motivating. But being motivated to accomplish a goal doesn’t mean that one has passion for the goal or even the journey toward that goal. Here’s where that song fits in. A simple line from the song “If I Had a Boat” (Lyle Lovett is genius in this song) goes:

The mystery masked man was smart
He got himself a Tonto
‘Cause Tonto did the dirty work for free
But Tonto he was smarter
And one day said kemosabe
Kiss my (beep) I bought a boat
I’m going out to sea

This illustrates the difference between passion and motivation. Tonto was motivated to perform his tasks for the Lone Ranger because his goal was to obtain that boat and sail away leaving the Lone Ranger twisted. He had no passion for these tasks or for the journey the tasks took him on. He was motivated because he had a personal reason.

Sometimes it can be hard to maintain that passion. While it is something that is instilled in you, it has to be watered, sunned and fed. The day to day can become monotonous. While every day may be a challenge, the challenge of every day can become tedious. That passion fails to see sun for a week or two at a time and is wrinkly and faded. Motivation can be reignited through a reward system. True passion, however, is more high-maintenance. It’s like a relationship. I always love you, but sometimes I just really dis-like you.

So when you find your passion for your industry getting droopy, from where do you find the food, sun and water to wake it up? Here are some of my favorites:
1) Volunteer within the industry
2) Keep learning- technology changes quickly, what new pieces of the AV puzzle do you need to learn more about? Are there any certifications that will help you?
3) Be a mentor
4) Find a mentor
5) Share the information you learn- write, teach, train, podcast, just don’t keep it to yourself
6) Surround yourself with passionate people

It’s ok if your passion is waning. You may not know where the spark is going to come from- but in this industry, as quickly as things change, be confident and open minded that your passion will come back. When all else fails, take a breath and a break. Take your pony on your boat out on the ocean and sing and dance like no one is judging because, you know, it’s the perfect way to detach and reset.

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