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Google, Zappos, and a Passion for Excellence

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“You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes” ~Morpheus, The Matrix, available at Cleveland's Motters Music

At their headquarters in the Silicon Valley, Google has taken a passionate stance towards it employees. They installed lap pools, a gym and bikes. They offer free massages and a meditation program. They operate under the belief that when people enjoy themselves they perform at their best. It is a far cry from any number of companies that try to drive performance with a carrot and a stick approach.

Zappos, which recently was sold to Amazon for over a billion dollars, sends new employees through its training program for two weeks. At the end of the two weeks they do something very unique, they pay their new employees to quit. Each employee is given a check for $2000.00 to walk away. For those who stay, they reject the $2000.00 and their willingness to pass it up displays their desire to join the team. Those who stay are not just looking for a job or money; they are looking to be a part of a team just as committed to their success as they are for the team’s goals.

It was Gandhi who said, "First, they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

Gandhi understood that novel ideas are often violently opposed. But for those who refuse to bow to the pressure to conform, great rewards can be found on the other side of success.

Steve Jobs knew something about passion, and about the value of life and to take advantage of each day we are given. He shared with a class, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life…Have courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

The world looks very different when people understand the true meaning of competition. Competition means “to conspire together.” The idea is that when we work together we push each other to a new level. The goal is not to beat someone else but to elevate them to be more than they are.

Passion is contagious; looking out for other people's well being instead of simply focusing on our own wants brings tremendous results. As has been often said, when the water level raises, it raises for everyone. We can work to elevate those around us, or tear them down. If we choose the former, we can change the world.

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