Elevate your Passion like "Patch Adams"

I had heard some decent things about the 1998 movie, “Patch Adams” yet never found the time to see it. One reason for my avoidance was that it seemed quite silly. Flipping through the TV this past week, I stumbled upon this lightly entertaining movie starring Robin Williams and found it pleasant and inspiring.

Based on a true story, Patch is a medical student who relates to his patients as human beings first and is passionate on improving their quality of their life, not just keeping them alive. He rubs many colleagues the wrong way but the patients adore him. The character Williams portrays is radiantly infectious.

This is not a great movie and many scenes are predictable although it did vividly remind me about the importance of living in the moment, being passionate and happily relating to others. Why do so many NOT show the happiness and passion externally even though they are happy and positive people inside? We don’t have to be as lively as Patch Adams; we only need to elevate or improve our passion, be more energetic and not be afraid to engage people especially new faces that we might come across.

During the movie, my mind drifted back to influential people I have worked with who exhibited the Patch passion for life:

-- At Madison Square Garden, our Head of Advertising Sales was a person you would never forget. I still think of moments with him especially when he was talking to a group. Not everyone was a fan but nobody could deny that he was an engaging and fun person. He was extremely funny, a great story teller and was passionate x 100. After telling the team a great story about husbands and wives, he ended the talk with these words; “I don’t care if my kid is not happy or anyone else but as long as my wife is happy, I am happy”. He was frequently providing quality wisdom.

-- In NYC, I had the best boss I will probably ever have. He was smart, witty, fair, fun and a true gentleman. I cannot remember one single moment with him that wasn’t pure enjoyment. He loved life and always talked lovingly about his wife and his eyes lit up when he spoke of his children. His enthusiasm and knowledge helped to prepare me for marriage and parenthood. In addition, he knew how to engage and instruct people that reported to him in a way that was empowering, fair and void of burden. He is one of my best mentors.

-- As a substitute teacher in Sweden, I had the opportunity to work with and observe some of the most admired teachers at their schools. One taught first grade and upon meeting him, I immediately recognized his loving spirit by the number of students that were always around him. He was constantly smiling and his students thought the world of him. We also worked together with a special needs student who was one of the most damaged kids I have been around. Even though I had sole responsibility for this young boy, when I needed help, he was always there to calm my student down.

Another teacher worked with kids after school. Even though his task was to monitor them while they played, he made moments special. He took attendance by playing silly name games that made kids laugh or corrected bad manners by joking with the students yet always teaching them the proper way to act. Needless to say, he was very popular.

I have met numerous people in the USA and Sweden who have some "Patch” in them but only show it to friends inside their circle. Some of my American and British friends have described Swedish people as robotic and indeed I can see why they think that. Many in this country find it difficult to open up (Sweden is very conformist) yet if you meet them privately, they are engaging and uplifting! Why not show that passion a bit more often?

During my years at Madison Square Garden, I was fortunate to meet Pat Croce (former owner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76er’s) at a private meeting. The aforementioned boss asked him to come to speak to the sales team as a way to motivate us. It was one of the most memorable and inspiring moments of my life! Even though some would find his energy over the top, I didn’t as it was genuine and you could feel the passion with his every word. His motivational skills were unbelievable! He inspired his basketball team, employees and the city of Philadelphia with a passion and "breath of fresh air" that will be difficult to duplicate.

We all have come across people like Patch, Pat and the others mentioned above and I bet you felt good after being in their presence? Even though you might not favor that particular style, it is hard to not be impressed or influenced by people who display happiness, passion or are engaging personalities. True passion is intoxicating!

Take the time to work on elevating your likability, passion towards others or personality. It will usually make you feel better, impact those around you positively and make life in general more interesting. I plan to step up my passion intensity in some areas where it has been a bit low.

The title of Pat Croce’s book is “I FEEL GREAT and you will too!". I recommend it highly. At the meeting, he told us to try what he does every morning; wake up and simultaneously clap your hands and say out loud, “I FEEL GREAT”. I know it sounds a bit corny but what did I have to lose by giving it a try?

The next morning I clapped, and to my surprise I instantly felt better. Pat was right in saying we would get some extra energy! I don’t do it every day yet when I make it part of my morning routine, it brings a smile to my face.

If you can’t take BIG steps in upgrading your passion, do it with little ones like smiling at a stranger, hugging a friend you have never hugged before, attending an event with a motivational speaker, engaging someone you never met before or waking up in the morning and being verbally expressive to kick-start your day!

Happy Gswede Sunday!


One of my most passionate friends. There have been moments laughing together when I thought my insides were going to explode!

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