'Sometimes I worry that the people who are seen as the most expert...are those who care the most or worry the most.'
'Good morning and welcome aboard. I'm Kurt Ranger and I'll be your Captain today on our flight to New York. I'm passionate about flying and committed to getting you safely to your destination. I was kept awake last night with worry about all the reasons we may not make it. So sit back, relax and enjoy your flight.'
'What keeps me awake at night is...'
Declarations of passion are most often made by characters in Shakespeare's plays and reality TV talent and cooking show contestants - the latter then dissolving into emphatic sobs.
'Hi. I'm Sam. And I'm passionate about food/dance/losing weight.'
Do I want my child's teacher to be passionate - or to be a good teacher?
Do I want my dentist to be passionate - or a good dentist?
Do I want my local member of parliament to be passionate - or a good legislator?
Do I want an infantry soldier to be passionate about his work of killing the enemy?
Of course it doesn't have to be either/or. My surgeon can be passionate and a good surgeon. Perhaps she is good because she is passionate enough about surgery to perservere beyond good enough.
Fiona Wood, one of the best surgeons in the world, spoke about how she learned that 'passion on its own won't cut it'. It had undermined her leadership. Each of the Five Steps to a Good Decision filters out emotions - including passion - that may distract the decision maker from her purpose. Professor Smallbone was expressing his concern about 'caring' equating to expertise in the area of child protection.
As in many things, before declaring one's passion, it's helpful to ask: 'Whose needs are being met?' 'Passion' ('to suffer') implies it's about me and how I feel. Perhaps compassion - 'suffering alongside another' (the client, the boss, the bloke in the next office) - might be worth developing?
Organisations' language of selling its Widget to consumers has leached into how we speak to each other. We market ourselves - even to ourselves.
‘Look at me! I'm passionate. about my Widget!’
Good for you. Now make the thing so your boss can make hers.
Maybe we're whistling past the workplace graveyard of disengagement. 'Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's passionately off to work we go...'.
If you're a boss exhorting your people to have passion in their work, and what you really mean is - do the work well - then just say 'I want you to do your work well.' Or perhaps even 'I'm passionate about supporting you to do your work well.' Or even 'I'm totally committed to putting money in your bank this fortnight.'
I can be passionate. Committed. Caring. Just as long as I do my job - or help others do theirs - well.
And while Hi-ho-ing with passionate gusto, remember to belt out the rest of the lyrics:
'Hi Ho Hi Ho , Its Off To Work We Go!!
We did dig dig dig dig dig dig dig
In our Mine the whole day through
To dig dig dig dig dig dig dig dig
Its what we like to do
It aint no trick
To get rich quick
If ya dig dig dig
With a shovel or a stick
In the Mines.'