I recently watched the movie Noah and NO this isn’t a post about the biblical accuracy of the film or religion — rather it’s a post of the dangers of becoming a zealot. Lets first look at the definition of ‘zealot’
‘Zealot – a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals.’
Lets be clear here…I’m not talking about religious or political ideals, I’m talking about the ‘other’ parts! What this movie made me think of is how passion coupled with a huge desire to accomplish a focused mission can tear you and everyone around you apart. In the movie, Noah becomes so obsessed with carrying out ‘the creators’ vision that he’s willing to let the entire human race die off. In fact (spoiler alert) he’s presented with the ultimate decision with one of the teenagers getting pregnant and having twin girls. this doesn’t fit his mission…and he comes very close to killing them. this passion to deliver the mission, turns him into a fanatic – a zealot and Noah goes against everyone that he loves…alienates them and when he finally realizes what he’s done he decides not to kill them. Sorry if i just ruined the movie for you :-(
It’s my opinion that the character succumbed to love over his mission and you can argue until you’re blue in the face if that was ‘part of the divine plan’ or biblically accurate, but regardless of those arguments — what I took out of the movie is that it took Noah damaging all of his closest relationships and holding a sword over a babies head to realize his craziness.
This element of story within the Noah movie stuck with me…it made me think long and hard of my TEDx talk on passion. If you haven’t watched the talk or need a refresh, click here: TEDx The Benefits of Passion – Kyle Reissner
I still do believe that horizontal passion provides more opportunities for you and have shared many real stories on this blog on how the simple ‘Energy+Focus+DoSay’ formula works — but after watching Noah, I was reminded that there is a danger of being overly passionate especially when you’re very very focused. You have the potential to end up turning into a zealot and when you become blinded you negatively affect those around you. This results in people running from you vs. pulling you into great opportunities! This goes for business and at home.
The real story part of this blog is that I’ve recently had this happen to me…when watching Noah I seen myself. I know, it’s weird but it happens from time to time — usually when I watch Star Wars and see me as Luke swinging a lightsaber…but no lightsaber this time :-) It reminded me why my wife and I’ve turned both our family and professional lives on it’s end in the last 3 months. After a long evaluation we decided to leave my marketing director position 3 months ago and my wife resigned from her hospital position of 13+ years — we did it the same day and it felt great.
We since then have relocated our family and made changes on how we focus. I realized I was a business zealot who blinded himself and wasn’t as horizontal as I should’ve been. I was not only on the road 90% of my time never seeing my family, which was the biggest factor that started the thought process, but also I brought home nothing but negativity, pessimism and was generally always pre-occupied with a singular work ‘vision’.
After talking about this with my wife Dana before my TEDx talk, she also realized that she was quickly going down the path of zealously at her place of work — so we put a plans in place to explore options to break the cycle for the both of us. We needed to change for the betterment of our family unit.
The irony in all this is that an opportunity resurfaced in February ’14, just before my TEDx talk, to which we originally declined to evaluate back in the summer of ’13 from a person that helped me create & validate the passion formula for the talk. I restarted these discussions and things progressed quickly. Fast forward to the now (August ’14) and I’ve been at this new role/company for ~3 months now. We’re closing on a family home later this month and are looking forward to settling in. This change for our family not only allows me to see my family every night but also my wife to focus on our kids much more and my work role has more impact, is exciting and enables me to reset my outlook to be more horizontal. We broke out of our comfort zone and although it’s had it’s challenges, the adventure thus far has been exhilarating.
Ask yourself, are you a business or personal zealot? are you too focused on your vision? Are you Noah and have people running from you in your personal or professional life because you’ve become a zealot and are blinded? Think about it…or perhaps just go watch Noah :-)