Passion, Diligence, Caring or all three?
I have two confessions to make that could have me struck off the HR party list and may raise the eyebrows of a few of my fellow thinkers on matters human:
- I’m not singularly passionate about my work all of the time. It has peaks and troughs.
- I believe indiscriminately exhorting people to “Find their true passion” and “To be passionate about their work and, or the brand” can be destructive, nonsensical and draining.
Passion – the cliché of our times?
Passion was once reserved for that window in a relationship where all consuming and irrational behaviour was a function of out of control emotion (beautiful) and serious ‘non soppy passion’ in the form of Jonny Wilkinson’s passion inducing last minute Rugby World Cup winning drop kick.
Now try Googling passion and see what you get. You’ll find people ‘passionate about workplace outsourcing’, you’ll find companies ‘passionate about meeting your paper shredding needs’. Surf a bit more and you will find Local Authorities ‘passionate about street cleaning’ (including clearing up dog poo too I presume?). There is even an outfit in town that are ‘passionate about meeting my UPVC needs’ (the day I am passionate about windows will somebody shoot me please)– Get on LinkedIn and you’ll find a host of individuals positively gushing with passion about:
‘Their passion to transform organisations’,
‘Their ‘passion to strategically enhance your bottom line (sounds painful)’
‘Their ‘passion to deliver outstanding ironmongery solutions’ (I despair)
You see, that everybody has a passion and that we must find it in order to flourish, is still seen as beyond doubt. That once we ‘find’ this passion all manner of goodies will come our way and we will ‘never have to work another day in our life’ as work does not feel like work (whatever that means? I like the feel of work, it gives colour and variety to the rest of life) The ying to the yang and so on. They tell us living our passion will deliver fulfilment, happiness, vitality, meaning and joy.
No pressure there then to nail this passion and get busy figuring it out? (The inference is also made that not knowing our passion or destiny makes us some sort of loser)
But what if that one true passion is elusive or nothing to do with how one earns a living?
Or, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get that passionate about the company’s new brand launch while all around you are foaming at the mouth with corporate lust? (Or so they say because the punishment for the non-passionate is a two day reprograming on the wonderfulness of the company values and mission statement).
Work can be stressful enough – without the feeling that you are living a life of mediocrity because you don’t jump out of bed everyday passionate about the work that will unfold.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s magnificent when life is all lined up and your chest is exploding with passion about what you do. Except sometimes it’s not – because life is curly not linear. Passion can come and go, it can be in fits and starts, it can be moderately applied to many things not just focussed on the ‘one true’ passion.
Maybe we turn up at work and being really honest with ourselves, it’s merely quite interesting, neither unpleasant nor soul stirring. Should we feel as though we are missing out and life is passing us by along with a career of permanent peak experiences?
There is no reason to assume it’s better to be the kind of person who focuses intently one thing rather than someone who’s interests are sporadic and eclectic.
Do we have to make our point with grand passion and exuberance – big road shows and inspirational speeches – when good old reasoned, determined logic and quiet connection to people and an idea will be more successful?
I’m asking because the default position has become ‘loud exhorted passion’ as the vehicle of promotion – and people are becoming desensitised to what their passion(s) might really be.
Ultimately, as an example I want to know if my accountant will be diligent in managing my financial affairs. What he is passionate about is none of my business. (Although I do know its Rugby)
So there is duty and duty is doing the right thing because it needs to be done. When I moved my aging parents down South to ‘keep an eye on’ it was not really because I wanted to. Neither was passion per se involved.
Duty is about doing the right thing for others without self-interest. It would be worth pointing out that one could entertain the notion that choice is also removed when true duty is needed. After much consideration I believed if I had a choice would I like to be my parent’s carers? No. Putting choice to one side, is there a duty to be fulfilled? Yes. This will always be a personal enquiry.
Again, does it concern me if my virtual assistant Lucy is passionate about her work? I’m more interested in that she cares.
Cares about what? About doing the right thing which, sometimes might be duty. Cares about me and how she can play a part in my success.
I doubt she’d list looking after my travel arrangements as a particular passion but I do know she cares about making my life simple and hassle free. (I think she is passionate about horse riding).
Real over Fake.
If I had a choice, which I do, when considering what brings about high performing teams I place duty and care over passion.
It’s too easy to fake passion through exhortation and declarations but its damn difficult to fake duty or care – they show up in behaviour and results.
Image Davidlohr Bueso