Passion quotient

Why do some businesses, marriages and nations not only survive, but flourish?

Today is our anniversary. For years we have been skimming over the day. We have been busy, occupied, rained- or snowed-out. It's the end of winter, what is a romantic to expect other than a chilly reception? Then something as arbitrary as a statistic spurred us on to celebrate. It turns out that less than 40 percent of marriages reach their 10th anniversary, and seeing as we had passed 10 years a while back, we are in pretty good shape. I believe fitness of any kind is worth celebrating. All this partying got me thinking (like a bad drunk, partying puts me in a contemplative mood) about those other 60% - the ones who can't, won't, or don't get a chance to celebrate their 10th anniversary and beyond. Why is it that some [insert as appropriate: marriages, businesses, moves, lives, nations] fail while others don't? Circumstance has something to do with it. If things seem to be going in your general direction, there should be every reason to succeed, and yet we have all experienced failure, some more often than others. Let me tell you about our anniversary celebration. In the morning, that is after we got everyone up, dressed, brushed, fed and out, we set off for our day. As we sped along a highway to Ashdod, we were stopped, unfortunately not by a well-wisher, but by a policeman who instead of a gift handed us a fine. Still in a good mood, we accepted it stoically, and promised not to let the ticket get us down. In the very heavy industrial area of Ashdod, my husband knocked on a garage door. We were welcomed by a sweet young girl who, it turns out, was not contravening child labor laws; she was an employee, and I'm just getting older. The garage was actually the factory and sales office of my newest obsession, Corinth Chocolate ( The one-room warehouse is a full, running operation, with one woman making the chocolate, one packaging, one manning the phones and a further, very young lady, showing us around. She (of non-contravention of child labor laws) showed us how to make "Mekupelet" out of the most exquisite dark chocolate. After our short demonstration the young one - who will be known as Maya from now on - started talking to us. Maya is so passionate about her product that I'm sure her veins run warm with 70% chocolate, or was that me? Maya and her sister Sharon, the creator of Corinth Chocolate, as well as a dozen other women, run the whole show and are making a pretty fair go of things. Later, my husband and I traveled to Tel Aviv where we had lunch in a restaurant that claims to be one of the best in the city. The only thing that was "best" about the restaurant, however, was the view. From our perch I could see south to Jaffa, north to Reading Power Station and the entire width from Ramat Gan all the way to the sail boats bouncing up and down on the Mediterranean Sea. Then I reverted my gaze to the restaurant we were in. The tables were shabby, not to be expected from a restaurant where the entrée is closer to NIS 200 than NIS 100. The dishes were mismatched and not in that "Bohemian chic" kind of way. And to top it all off, the mashed potatoes (oy vay - big sigh, exclamation point) were cold. What greater offense can there be in this world than cold, runny mashed potatoes? Not surprisingly, we didn't stay for dessert. Author and journalist Thomas Friedman proposed that the combination of passion and curiosity are more valued, and perhaps a surer predictor of success, than intelligence alone. At Corinth Chocolate, there is an energy, a sensation of great things to come. Despite the tiny factory, the few hands and the relative obscurity, they will succeed because they are passionate about their product. The founders of Tel Aviv succeeded - despite malaria, wars and tons of tons of sand - because they were passionate about their work and curious about what it would be like to live in a city built by Jews for Jews. The restaurant with a view, on the other hand, while it has the right location and resources, the passion that may have once been in the creation is no longer in the execution. Purim is the next box to cross off our calendars. Somehow, Mordecai fits into my anniversary. Mordecai, one of the heroes of the Purim story, succeeds because of his combination of passion and curiosity. He is curious enough to follow obscure leads and suggestions, and passionate enough about the survival of his people to do something about it. Why do some businesses, marriages and nations not only survive, but flourish? I'm no expert, but I believe it is the combination of passion and curiosity, the passion to do better combined with the curiosity to find out how. My wish for you and myself on my anniversary and, well, Purim, is to celebrate your passion and indulge your curiosity.