Passion, People, Projects, and the Pursuit of Excellence

People first.I’ve had the opportunity to converse with a couple of people about whether people or projects are more important. I’ve chatted with Kaarina Dillabough who says people are more important. I’ve had several interesting conversations with CJ Chilvers (Subscribe to his e-letter. It’s filled with wonderful words and links to interesting articles.). He, too, says that people are more important. He goes a step further than Kaarina or I have; he counters books like Turning Pro and films such as Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Both the film and the book are about pursuing one’s passion. Both the film and the book neglect the cost associated with pursuing one’s passion first and foremost: the people. Jiro’s family didn’t even recognize him; Pressfield’s became alienated from him.

CJ considers those results to be tragedies, and I agree. People are more important than pursuing one’s passion. Completing projects is great. Pursuing excellence is admirable. Being passionate about that pursuit or those projects is laudable. Doing any of those things at the expense of people is not.

People must come first. My work means nothing if it is done at the expense or in spite of others. My work also means nothing if it is not done for others. If I am the only one who benefits from my work, my work is not a success. People first, me second.

I don’t mean people in general, either. I mean the people who are close to me. I have witnessed and known far too many people who said they were doing good work for others but neglected their families and closest friends. I find those stories tragic and hypocritical. If one’s aim is to help others, it should be an extension of something already happening in the home. It should not be done at the expense of that home and family.

The point of putting people first may seem obvious, but it’s not. I know I’m self-centered. I have to work to put people first. I sometimes have to inconvenience myself and my work when someone is in need. I might grouse about it, but, to me, success is found in putting people first.

What do you think? Projects or people first?

Photo: Yvette T. (CC BY 2.0)


  1. People. yes.

  2. People. And I agree family comes first. (In my book, people can earn their way into the “family” category, even if they’re not technically family.)

  3. I wouldn’t be in business without people! Family comes first. Projects come and go, some make you proud, some let you down; but family will never let you down.
    As for people, they are the crux of everything and all things.

    • Hajra  Yes, they are the crux. That’s a good word. 
      I’m also with barrettrossie regarding his sentiment that people who aren’t technically family can become one. One of my friends is both a friend and a dad at times. I love him.

  4. You know my answer:) Cheers! Kaarina

  5. I am a father so I have to say people come first. It is just what has to happen.