|Polly's GCSE work inspired by William Blake and Rob Ryan|
There was a little montage of David Cameron using the word on Newsnight the other evening. His passion for the NHS creates an unquestionable cloak of righteousness. He's passionate therefore everything he does must be right.
I was at an induction evening for a Sixth Form with my daughter a few weeks ago. The very enthusiastic headmistress stressed the importance of ensuring you choose A level subjects that you are passionate about. Well, Polly is keen to stay on for A levels, go on to University, pursue some of her interests, get the best start in life. She is also passionate about quite a few things: her hair, clothes, pretty shops, pretty boys, looking after younger children, tickling children, fashion photography, colour... to name a few. None of these translate directly into a neat label for an A level subject. She felt intimidated by the passion spewing forth from the Head and ebullient current students. The best she could do was name a few subjects she considered her least worse. I have no doubt that she will succeed beautifully in whatever she chooses to do, but implying the need for passion in your choice of A level subjects?
Don't get me wrong. I love passionate people. I love being passionate. I just worry about people talking about it too much. Requiring people to be passionate about something in particular. Setting out passion as an HR criterium. I think people sometimes think they have to be passionate about the wrong thing.
|Matthew Rice's latest book|
In 'Forget Passion, Focus on Process' on the 37 Signals blog they start with, 'The problem with the “follow your passion” chorus: We can’t all love the products we work with. Someone has to do the jobs and sell the things that don’t seem sexy but make the world go round.' There's some seriously good sense here. One of the comments links to a TED talk by Mike Rowe celebrating 'dirty jobs'. I was also put in mind of Stephen Covey's 'Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.' Although not top of the behaviouralist's charts at the moment, Covey's point that excellence comes through a series of habits is well put and worth learning. Picasso was a genius - he was talented and importantly highly prolific. His work habits let his genius be seen.
Let's think before we expound passion. And let's not use it as a default requirement. But ensure that our process is fit for purpose and delivering excellence to our customers. I wouldn't mind customers being passionate about brands and services that we help develop and build. That would be a desired perception.