The Definition of "Passio:" How it Applies to Sales Coaching and to Life

My oldest son has worn a black wristband since he was about 11 years old.  The wristband says “Passio Bellator,” a Latin phrase which roughly translated means “Suffering Warrior.” He got this wristband when he had the opportunity to work with the National Football Academy and their coaching staff.  Coach Darin Slack, the founder of NFA teaches these QBs the principle of “Passio.” 

Coach Slack starts by offering a definition of Passion: “Strong and barely controllable emotion.”

It’s easy for the boys to answer his question of “What are you Passionate about?”  Most of these aspiring QBs say “Football,” “Teammates,” and some even say “Family.” Coach Slack asks if any know where the word Passion comes from.  None ever do.  I certainly did not.

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The Latin root of Passion is “Passio,” which is defined by “I endure, I suffer.”

The highest award given at the end of an NFA camp is the “Passio” award.  The award winner receives a shirt that can only be won…not bought.  The honor isn’t given to the biggest, fastest, strongest, or most accurate QB.  This is given to the person that shows the most Passio during the 2-day event.

Coach Slack says that Passio is a test.  The test will be different for each person, but Coach Slack asks the boys “what are you willing to suffer for?”  “What are you willing to endure so you can make others great?”

The principles of Passio apply to life…not just sports.  NFA participants are encouraged to “Light up” life.  These athletes and leaders are asked: How do you Sacrifice?  How do you Ignite?  How do you Grind?  How do you Inspire?

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Coach Slack has had a huge impact on thousands of young men.  The concepts of Passio led my son to training at early hours of the morning, training in poor weather, missing activities with friends, and many other similar decisions as he chased the pursuit of goals rather than convenience of the moment.

This focus on Passio has had a meaningful impact on me.  When asked what I’m passionate about, there are lots of things I might answer with.  I’m passionate about my family, my favorite sports teams, live concerts with my favorite bands, and so many other things.  I could easily list 15-20 items I’m “Passionate” about.

But how many of them am I willing to suffer or endure for?  How many of these things matter so much I’m willing to go through things that might not be easy or convenient?

My answer:  Not many.

I’m guessing this is true for most of us.  I’ve found that what my son has learned from a football coach has huge implications in every part of life.  If it isn’t worth working for, it likely isn’t worth much.  This is particularly true for our professional lives.  If we are going to spend a significant number of hours in our professions, we need to pick something “Passio-Worthy.”

As members of the Sales Profession, we are part of the greatest professions in the world.  Our profession is one that helps our customers solve problems they care about, achieve results they care about, and benefit from possibilities they may not have known existed.

With as much time as we spend in our careers, it is important that we adopt an attitude of Passio.  What are the things worth enduring for?  I’ve found that thinking this through will create a meaningful impact in how you go about your days.  While each person’s list of what is “Passio-Worthy” will be different, I believe there is something that should be on everyone’s list:  Your Future Self.

This is why the concept of “Intentional Improvement” is so important.  We are only willing to run to the hard things if we know where they fit in our plans for ourselves.  The idea of getting 1% better each day is shared by many professionals like John Barrows and Tony Robbins.  This stems from an understanding of where you are and where you want to be.  The only way to have this become a lifestyle rather than a daily event:  Passio.

Moving from your current state to a desired state is a challenge.  It takes planning, hard work, and disciplined consistency.  The more you work on it, the more likely you’ll love it.

The “I-Attitudes”

Passio creates a mindset where you don’t work on your craft because you must…you do it because that’s who you are.  This creates a “No Days Off” mindset for anyone looking to level up.

Coach Slack had four checkpoints in ensuring you were a person of Passio.  These four attributes will help you in wherever your sales career takes you:

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1. I Sacrifice: Are You going through the motions or are you intentionally chasing a future state?  Too many people do just what they are asked to…but nothing more.  Passio helps us learn the power of the three magic words in business and life: “And then some.”  Do what the company expects, and then some.  Do what your clients need, and then some.  “And then some” comes because of Passio.  You’re willing to do things that others don’t so you can accomplish things that others can’t.  Intentionally improving isn’t always convenient, but people with Passio make those decisions without hesitation. 

Are you prioritizing your progress?  Can you identify your “And then some” moments in your approach to sales, your customers, and your team? 

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2. I Grind: Passio helps us not just embrace the grind, but love the grind. The “No Days Off” attitude doesn’t mean we become one dimensional.  This attitude means that we keep our mindset of future state and the pathway we’re on.  The grinders are the ones that end up making their own luck.  What’s your cadence?  Have you built the plan that gets you where you want to go based on changing your day-to-day routine?  Success doesn’t come by suddenly doing something amazing.  Greatness comes when you string together those small daily victories.  Keep winning the day and before you know it you are at a new level.  These levels only come by embracing the grind.  The grind is what makes you know you’re headed where you want to be.  Do you know what needs to be done the next day when you go to bed?  Your willingness to grind can be defined as “What you’re willing to do when nobody else is watching or measuring you.”  Passio helps you stay on the path.

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3.  I Ignite: Jack Kosakowski once said something to me that I haven’t forgotten. “If you light yourself on fire, the world will come to see you burn.”  As a member of the sales profession, doing it right will make you stand out.  So many of the people in our profession use tactics and approaches that diminish our world and leave bad impressions.  Done correctly, sales is the greatest job in the world.  What you do can ignite success for a customer?  What you do can ignite success for a team member?  What you do can ignite the career of a colleague or even someone you may have never met?  As a salesperson, ignite your pipeline. Ignite your personal capabilities, ignite the people you work with and for.  As a leader, ignite your concern for your team members.  Ignite how you serve them.  Ignite how you help them do more with your help than they had ever done on their own.

Once you’ve committed to sacrifice and grinding, Passio will help you ignite capabilities you never thought you had.  To ignite, trust the process.  Are you a person of action?  What have you done to ignite new opportunities?  Refresh slow or other opportunities?  How are you igniting your network?  Are you lighting up something worth paying attention to?  In today’s economy, keep giving.  Give to your prospects, your colleagues and your teammates.  Give to your network and your markets.  And before you know it, you’ll have the world coming to watch you burn.  This will lead to new relationships, new possibilities, and new opportunities you otherwise would have never experienced.

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4. I Inspire: The process of success is what inspires people. So many people focus on the result, but it is the process that inspires those that seek success.  As you go through the checkpoints of Sacrifice, Grind, and Ignition, you’ll find your passion…your love of what you do…grow to new levels.  This passion will be a huge magnet.  Prospects, customers, influencers, teammates, and colleagues will be drawn to you.  And while this is cool, the inspiration that you’ll find most fulfilling is the satisfaction you find from having the Passio process fuel the things you are authentically passionate about.  This authenticity is what inspires those around you to become more than they might have otherwise been.

Passion is a word thrown around all the time.  Most just equate the word with things you love or are really interested in.  Understanding that before you can love something, you’ve got to work for it and endure for it will change how you choose to spend the cycles of your professional career.

 Here’s an immutable truth:  Before you can truly experience passion, you first must have passio.  It is the effort and the process that lead to the genuine love and satisfaction.

What are you willing to work for?  What are you willing to Grind for?

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Look through the four lenses that drive passio carefully.  These will help you get to the future self you most desire.

There are no magic bullets.  No shortcuts.  There are no days off.

Only Passio. That’s why Passio is a test.  What are you willing to work and endure?  It’s a test you can’t cheat on and can only do yourself.  The sooner you figure that out, the sooner you’ll be on the path Passio opens.

What are YOU Chasing?

Rob Jeppsen is the Founder and CEO of Xvoyant, a Sales Coaching technology provider that helps organizations experience the results associated with world-class sales coaching. He has won 15 gold and silver Stevie Awards for his sales leadership and coaching expertise. To learn more about how to make coaching your most defensible competitive advantage or to have a custom "Case for Coaching" analysis conducted for your team, reach out to Rob at 

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