passion girl playing guitar

Passion and Your Kids

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This past Christmas I was given a gift that I could not unwrap... but it ended up unwrapping ME!

In the weeks prior to the holiday my daughter and son-in-law teased me by telling me, “dad this year you are going to score big time at Christmas!

I watched as my grandchildren tore through their gifts like a pirate searching for buried treasure.  I received a black t-shirt with the word, “Fender” (as in guitars) on the front.  That was the gift from my kids.

So after all the gifts were opened, I sat there with my inner dialog asking, “so is this t-shirt my big win?”  – I admit sometimes my expectation is higher than my gratitude.

The next thing I know my daughter is sitting next to me with her guitar playing a song that I wrote back in 1972!  She unwrapped me with her gift.


Several years ago when I was working on my book, “The Passion Centered Person my daughter walked into my office and asked me why I never asked what her passions were? Great question!

Because a big part of passion discovery is to write down 50 things that mean most to you, I gave that assignment to my daughter. She reappeared 2 hours later with her “passion list”.

Passion #3 on her list:  I want my dad to teach me to play guitar so we can play a song together”.

I had no idea about Passion #3.  I didn’t know it was something she cared about so deeply! Like most parents, I assumed that my kid’s gifts, talents, and natural ability defined what they loved.  Maybe… but not always! Just because someone is good at what they do doesn’t mean it’s what the love to do.  So of course… I taught her to play the guitar.


The Passion Cycle clearly defines my daughter’s journey!

Gary's daughter plugged into the passion cycle


Passion: Discovery: She wrote down her passions. Passions must be written.

Productivity: Act: She took the time and made the effort to learn to play guitar.

Profitability: Results and rewards: She was able to show me how much value she placed in our relationship.

Pleasure: Happiness: She opened the door to my deepest emotions and filled it with joy.


The best gift

The song that she played for me was a song I wrote back in 1972 intitled, “I Believe in Love”.   I had forgotten about it. Little did I know that my daughter had been taking advanced guitar lessons and had my song transcribed into sheet music.

No wonder she played it so much better than I ever did.

Discovering your passion doesn’t have an age limit.  Do you know the passions of your child(ren)?


Action Exercise: The Passions of My Children… What do they truly value?

Ask your kids to write out their passion lists.

Note: Keep it simple and fun! Passion cannot be demanded it must be discovered!

Let’s face it most kids don’t like the idea of their parents/adults telling them what they must do so here are a few things to consider:

  • Simply ask your child to write down 10 things they love doing on a piece of paper not digital.
  • Do not attempt to define passion for them. If they ask why simply say you really want to know what they care about.
  • Make sure your approach is unique as each child. (bribes are welcomed)
  • Timing is everything! Choose the right time and place when you ask them.
  • Be sure to put a timeline for completion.

Parent… do not overthink this.   Just keep it simple and have fun!

Use this exercise with people of any age!  It’s great for the business environment too.

There is NO age limit on discovering your passion!

By Passion, Passion Cycle for Life & Dentistry No Comments

It was game on! Just me, a lousy PA system and 1000 High School students ready to learn about passion! 

Dr. Eric Hannapel invited his teenage sons to hear me speak at an event he was hosting for his referring dentists. After the event, Dr. Hannapel told me that his sons wanted to book me to speak at their High School. To be honest, I started my career doing assemblies all over the country, but it had been 15 years since my last assembly.  I didn’t know what to expect.

Out of my comfort zone into the passion zone.

His sons told me every year they have a community involvement assembly and most speakers were boring.

They said, “Your passion message would be perfect… is about finding what we love and making a difference.” 

I said,  “Guys, I am old enough to be your grandfather!

“But you said passion is ageless!” they said.  I hate when people quote me to me! I said , “Ok.  Let’s do this thing!

The boys were serious and put some real skin in the game. I found out later they had written a grant so they could pay me to speak. Booking the assembly was a logistical nightmare but their passion became the fuel that drove them past every obstacle. The date was set, and I was committed.

The gift of acceptance.

It was like an out of body experience. It all seemed to end as quickly as it started. 90 minutes seem to fly by and then to my complete amazement the kids gave me a standing ovation. An entire generation gave me the gift of acceptance not because I was amazing but because they were. The only generation gap was in my head, but I spoke from the heart. Don’t get me wrong… there is a place to be informative, but sometimes inspiration outperforms information.  

Passion Point:  Passion is expressed first through emotion which is ageless. It is not about closing a gap but building a bridge.

Humility and transparency are key to heart connection. Acknowledging my imperfection and the need to give others permission to speak into my life gave the audience the same freedom. We live in a time of great division where being offended has become vouge and personal value is measured by the number of “likes”. However, unlike virtual relationships connecting with these students was a moment of authenticity experienced because we breathed the same air and filled the same space. This is a true reality!

Break it Down: The Passion Cycle Graphic showing the passion cycle

Passion: They did the unexpected. Two Teenage boys at a dental meeting heard me speak. Passion is discovered and experienced in the most unlikely places. 

Productivity: They took a step forward. Dr. Eric’s sons used passion to fuel their greater purpose for an all-school assembly. Bottom line… they positioned their passion and acted.

Profit: Return on investment. Because two young men were willing to follow their passion, they rewarded faculty, students and me with the gift of acceptance.

Pleasure: It’s about the journey. Passion is not about instant gratification, but rather, long term plotting toward your goal. Pleasure is the reward when you reach the destination not the reason to begin.  

Bring Gary and his passion cycle to your next event

Are you interested in igniting the passion in your referring doctors and their teams as a way to show your appreciation?  Or maybe you’re looking for a program to bring to your study club or team meeting that is fun, life-changing and engaging.  Click here to learn more about my Passion Cycle Appreciation Program.

Goal Setting: The Year of 20/20 Vision!

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As we approach 2020, I wanted to write a blog on goal setting… go figure!

We all have the best of intentions as we hope things will be different in the coming year. I believe in recognizing that goal setting is seldom about starting or even finishing it’s about continuing.

Why does gym attendance explode in January but decrease within weeks? Why do our good intentions lose momentum?  How can we continue what we start?

Personal experience example of goal setting with teens

Back in 1973 when I was a youth pastor in Buffalo NY, I had one goal… inspiring 1000 teens (yes that was the size of my youth group) to read the Bible daily. Sounded doable but every goal is doable until you start doing it.

… Ok stay with me!

Their perspective had to change, so I came up with the following mantra:  Start with the ridiculous to achieve the impossible rather than starting with impossible to achieve the ridiculous!

Goals must be demonstrated not demanded!

The Rule of Reciprocity: I personally picked 12 kids and modeled for them what I expected from them. My hope was that they would each do the same for someone else.  Goals must be fueled not just felt.

Ask yourself the following 2 questions:

  1. What do you think was the human fuel that insured momentum in times of mundane obligation to keep these kids interested and committed?
  2. How can the voice of conviction become louder than the voice of compromise when you simply want to quit?

Are you ready for the answer?

I created a type of fuel for these kids that was high octane… a mixture of accountability and authenticity.

First, they had to make themselves accountable to someone they could not scam. Second, they had to legitimize the goal by making it their own. If you don’t own it you won’t do it. An example of accountability and authenticity when it comes to weight loss would be to get on the scale while someone is watching!

Here is how starting with ridiculous goal setting played out for these 12 kids:

7 days per week for 6 weeks:

Week one: Create a habit: Be sure your Bible is in the same place. But do not open it! (Goals must be repeated)

Week two: Create desire: For the next seven days open the Bible cover but do not read it! (Goals must start easy)

Week three: Create memorization: For the next 7 days only read the same passage. 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race”. (Goals must not be forgotten)

Week four: Create commitment: Proverbs contains 31 chapters… read the proverb that corresponds to the date. (Goals must perform)

Week five: Create accountability: Continue in Proverbs but daily tell someone what you read. (Goals must be monitored)

Week six: Create a partnership: Invite someone else into the process. (Goals must be shared)

Note: 47 years later, many of those kids, now parents and grandparents, continue with this habit!  How cool is that?!

Make YOUR goal setting in 2020 “the year of continuing“!

How can you take the method I used with my youth group and apply it to the goals you set for the new year?  All you have to do is plug in your goal and work the steps:

  1. Create a habit – schedule time to work on your goal regularly
  2. Create a desire – start small and with something you know you can easily do
  3. Create memorization – declare a mantra and repeat it daily
  4. Create commitment – commit to doing one thing for 30 days that is in service of your goal
  5. create accountability – reach out to someone and share what you did each day in service of your goal
  6. Create partnership – invite someone or a group to join you

Are you ready to apply this strategy to your New Year’s goals?  If you’re interested in working with me to make this process come alive for you, contact me.

You can do this…Make it happen!  Here’s to 20/20 vision in 2020!



4 Signs You Have A Passion Centered Dental Team

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In my experience, there are 4 basic signs that demonstrate if a team is passion centered or problem-driven.

As a passion coach the first thing I look for above anything else within the dental practice is “individual and team recognition”.   Trust me I get that there are some team members that struggle with being in the spotlight, but no one struggles with feeling needed.

Passion is personal and can only be appreciated and empowered when individual recognition takes precedence over team recognition.
Case in point… general dentistry might be universal in scope but the success of the practice is the ability to make each individual patient feel they are your highest priority. Why should it be any different with team members just because they work there?
Graphic showing the passion cycle 

4 signs of a passion centered team:


Team members desire/hunger to be totally present every moment by maintaining eye contact, non-distractive listening skills, world class patient care and asking the right questions.


Team members desire to be organized, proactive and on time. They are intentional concerning what or who has priority and understand the attitude rigid flexibility. The are not demanding but they are deliberate.


Team members understand that the practice is a business that must generate profits. Therefore, they consider the overall cost to the practice above their personal comfort while at the practice. Referral marketing in a team mindset experienced through team and patient care.


Team members consider others above self by being aware of personal mood swings, destructive communication and a general disinterest in their disposition. Question? Do you repel or invite others?




I believe the most identifiable sign if a practice is passionate is on their drive home after work. Passion is not restricted by a location but by an attitude. Now it is time to demonstrate your passion toward the people who deserve it the most… family.

If you are interested in learning more about how to create passion centered teams click here.

Tommy Franklin and Passion Expert Gary Zelesky

PASSION STORY: The Dance That Changed My Life

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I hated being invited to a wedding, a party or any event where there was dancing involved.


My wife Cherisse loved to dance and had a passion for dancing, but I loathed it. This became a point of contention in our marriage, to say the least… until I met Tommy Franklin!

While speaking at a conference in Australia Cherisse and I met Tommy. This guy was freaky, but his story was amazing!

Through several life tragedies and countless disappointments Tommy found his passion, or should I say… passion found Tommy.

Tommy loved to dance.

Tommy was the second runner up in Australia’s Got Talent TV show which changed the course of his life.

Watch Tommy’s Australia’s Got Talent audition below. You’re gonna LOVE this!

Passion Point:
Your passion doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you.


Tommy was like watching a freestyle skier… but without the skis.

At the conference in Australia Tommy was hired to simply dance.

That’s right…  DANCE!

But the real magic was Tommy’s ability to get everyone I mean everyone to dance along with him… including ME!


Passion Point:
Passion is never fulfilled in a secret place. It must include others.


On the dance floor in full view of everyone, I was doing the one thing I hated and loved every minute of it.




The Breakdown of Tommy Franklin’s Passion Cycle:


Tommy discovered and deployed his passion even during times of pain and opposition… He was called to dance.


Tommy acted past his fear and went on the TV show Australia’s Got Talent.


Tommy gets hired to dance as a result of moving past his fear and is rewarded with relational collateral by thousands through social media.


Tommy’s wellbeing was displayed by the level of happiness we all experienced just being around him.


If you haven’t done it yet, grab your free Passion Cycle Guide here.


“On the dance floor in full view of everyone I was doing the one thing I hated and loving every minute of it.”


Passion has the power to not only change your life but also the lives of those around you.

Cherisse is thankful Tommy shared his passion with me, and so am I!

If you’re interested in learning more about how to tap into the power of The Passion Cycle for your business click here.