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August 19, 2008


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I think there are projects that are very exciting but I can't say I'm always passionate about work. Can anyone?

You mean all those marketing/comm/exec types who say they are passionate really aren't? Man, next you'll be telling me they also are not committed, dedicated, innovative, highly incentivized, client-focused, results-driven, leading-edge thought leaders who believe the only constant is change and that people are their greatest asset in a global environment of rapidly shifting paradigms. These are people who systematically sucked all the power out of once powerful words (and even made up a few new empty ones). How could they have achieved that without a great deal of passion?

I suppose now would not be an ideal time to mention that my organization recently introduced a new set of "corporate values" and that one of those values is - you guessed it - passion...

You couldn't put "passion" over as a core value at a whorehouse.

Why do we think we can ask employees to be "passionate" at an accounting firm or a tire company?

(And why would we WANT them to be?)

You couldn't put "passion" over as a core value at a whorehouse.

Why do we think we can ask employees to be "passionate" at an accounting firm or a tire company?

(And why would we WANT them to be?)

I have to admit I've been known to say, "Although I'm a generalist, I'm truly passionate about internal communications."

I say that because communicating with employees is more real, more challenging, more interesting and has more potential to affect change than the external stuff, which is important but much more conservative, formulaic and defensive.

I know in the corporate world it's a worn out, overused word, but for me it means caring so much about what you're doing that you're ecstatic when it turns out well and your feelings are hurt when it doesn't. It means caring so much that you're willing to be disruptive to make sure every detail is looked after properly; that you won't back down if your values are compromised; and that you'll do extra work to make sure the people you're working with are having as much fun as you are.

With passion comes a kind of electricity, a momentum that helps keep one's career, and one's life, above water. Passion, and the rewards that come with it, keep the demons of negativity and anguish and sorrow at bay. Passion kills the worms that eat the soul.

But you don't need passion at work. I think you do need it somewhere in your life, whether it's your new love, your children, your golf game, your vacation or your next barbecue competition.

And yes, if an organization uses that word it's bound to get watered down, but I do think that if it's used with integrity, its meaning can be preserved and its power can be harnessed for the good.

Absolutely, Ron, we all need passion in our lives. And I can say that I often bring passion to parts of my work. But am I passionate about it as a discipline? Not really. I like my work and I care about what I do. I believe it matters. But when I compare it to the things in my life that I really am passionate about, my work doesn't even register on that scale.

David, don't even get me started on a discussion of corporate values - in whorehouses or elsewhere.

Maybe it's just because we're nearing the end of the silly season, but I'm sick to death of passionate people. They think because their emotions run high they can turn off their brains. You can be passionate about something you haven't bothered to learn anything about. Instead, we should be SMART about communication.We should know what it can and can't do, how it should and shouldn't be used, how much it ought to cost, and what types of skills are necessary. Screw passion; give me expertise any day.

Jane, I hope you don't want me to take that personally, and I understand your point. I think what we should be aiming for is what Wordsworth called "thinking feeling" which is the happy marriage of rational thought and emotional energy.

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