There is an inherent danger in people citing passion as their primary reason for deciding something because passion has nothing to do with reason. It is all emotion. As a result, it doesn’t require thinking. Once an emotion consumes all the energy you feed it, it retreats until provoked again. This an exhausting process; inefficient and likely to do more harm than good.
Remember the word passion comes from the Latin word, patere, which roughly means to acquiesce to a suffering. Why should we celebrate suffering? I am beginning to think that those who claim passion as leading primary decision-making tool are intellectually dishonest, or at worst a little unstable. Yes, I’ve seen and believe the studies that say we all make buying decisions with our heart and then justify them with our head. That explains why we pay rent for storage and drive out of our way for sales. Just because it is one way does not mean it has to remain that way.
I have a philosophy in my personal and professional life that, in part, is based on bringing vision, passion, and action to each endeavor. My earlier proclamation does not detract from that belief. Vision, passion, and action; or head, heart, and hands if you prefer, remains a winning formula. I’ve just noticed some people have a habit of going a little heavy on the passion.
The effective leader knows how to use passion as an informative tool, not a crutch. Leaders make decisions based on logic and reason instead of being swayed or engulfed by a passion.
Too many busy professionals use passion and emotion as a results measure.
- “This makes me feel good, so I’ll do more of it.”
- “This makes me feel angry, so you must be wrong.”
It’s a natural mistake. We are led to believe humanity needs more emotion, not less. We get scolded and schooled that not showing emotion makes others think you are aloof, disinterested — a cold fish. Those labels are in themselves emotion-based and should have little bearing on the effectiveness of your leadership.
People mistakenly think stoics have no emotion and, therefore, lack humanity. It’s a false indictment. The stoic feels emotion like everyone else. The difference is; they exhibit self-control over it rather than being controlled by it. They ask themselves questions like,
- “Where did this come from?”
- “Why am I feeling this way?”
- “Is this true?”
These are process measures, used to inform them with additional insight.
Everyone likes leaders with passion, but consider the leader who possesses an excess of passion alone. They may excite, or they could just as easily belittle or frighten. However, what gets done? Compare that to the leader who keeps their emotions in check, regardless or the circumstances. This “killjoy” marches forward, undaunted. What they lack in flair or excitement they make up for in results.
I don’t advocate abandoning the vision, passion and action formula for high-performance. However, I am perfectly content to knock passion off the pedestal it erected for itself. It got there through suffering and to maintain itself it feeds off ever-expanding ego. Effective, long-lasting leaders know vision, passion and action are ingredients that ought to be measured in equal proportion. Over-seasoning ruins the dish.
Karl Bimshas is an Executive Accountability Partner who helps new leaders and leaders in transition to act on purpose, not by accident. He’s the author of “How to Stay When You Want to Quit;Strategies to get over yourself“.