After reading several 100-year-old self-development classics1, I have concluded there is no room for Passion in the workplace.
I realize that may come across as a contradiction: I have written several articles about Passion in the workplace2.
In presentations, workshops, and one-on-one sessions, I have explained my thinking.
Spirited Leaders uses a Minus10-to-Plus10 Scale to measure feelings.
When we are not feeling good about work we score somewhere between Minus10 and Zero...Minus10 being this is absolutely the worst I have ever felt in my life and Zero being neutral [not bad, not good, just ambivalence].
When we are feeling good about work we score between Zero and Plus10. In the past, I have said:
- a score from Plus1 to Plus4 means we Accept our work. At Plus1 we Tolerate work...don't have much good things to say about it...but, it is bearable and better than doing nothing. As we approach a score of Plus4 we experience increased positive feelings about work.
- a score of Plus4 to Plus7 means we Enjoy our work. We consider our work-time as time well spent and we feel our work-activities are productive.
- a score of Plus7 to Plus10 means we are Enthusiastic about our work. In this range, our work is an important part of our lives. As we approach Plus10 we feel our work is aligned with our life purpose. And - a score of Plus10 means Passion...as in Passion for Work Excellence.
Now, I say all of that except I will not use the word 'Passion' to describe Plus10. Instead, I will say a score of Plus10 means work is 'Completely Aligned with Life Purpose' or, using a more modern phrase, work is 'In The Zone'.
I will not use the word 'Passion' because I now believe Passion is the wrong word. Passion is an inflamed emotional state. It does not fit with work. In fact, it is damaging at work. If we see Passion at work then it will likely be a symptom of unbridled, excessive, optimism or mania...both of which are damaging indeed!
I will use descriptions like 'Completely Aligned with Life Purpose' and 'In The Zone' because they accurately describe how the best feelings of work happen and how we can recognize those feelings.
NOTE: During our workdays, none of us can expect to sustain a score of Plus10. However, almost all of us can feel Plus10 from time to time and feel at least Plus7 most of the time.
- Particularly, the works of Robert Collier and the works of James Allen.
- Articles about Passion in the workplace: one, two three, four, five