With $50 in his pocket, Dustin Hoffman headed to New York, hoping to find work as an actor. Inexperienced and unknown, Hoffman struggled to find employment. Acting gigs were not paying his bills, so he worked an assortment of odd jobs to stay afloat, including typing for the Yellow Pages, stringing together Hawaiian leis, and checking coats at a local theater.
Undaunted by sparse opportunities, Hoffman clung to his passion. He took whatever acting jobs would come his way, always hoping to be discovered. Each time he acted, even in humble roles, he added to his experience and fanned the flame of his passion.
Hoffman’s passion stayed sharp because of the company he kept. Two of his best friends were fellow “starving artists,” also trying to make a break as actors. Their names? Gene Hackman and Robert Duvall. Together, Hoffman, Duvall, and Hackman supported one another, validated each other’s dreams, and shared the ups and downs of life as aspiring actors.
Life’s fulfillment emanates from passion, thus passion must be exercised and kept alive. Dustin Hoffman found outlets for his passion to act. Even when work was slow and the pay was low, he attended open calls, worked commercials, and accepted parts in obscure drams. Hoffman also surrounded himself with friends, like Robert Duvall and Gene Hackman, who shared his passion for the stage and encouraged him to follow his passion.
Leaders have to populate their passion. That is, they need to cultivate relationships with fellow journeyers who share a passion similar to their own. In doing so, leaders develop a network of supporters to spur them on while their vision is in its infancy or when their dreams face opposition. Who is in your corner to cheer you on as you pursue your vision as a leader? Oppositely, whose passion are you helping to stoke? Interestingly enough, the more a leader fuels the passion of others, the more he or she gains support in return. In the words of an ancient Hebrew proverb, “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”