Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How Passion Wins

Passion wins. But only when passion is aligned to goals, to purpose, and to governance structures that create great teamwork.

Pure passion catalyzes and transforms. It inspires, innovates, and invents. Pure passion is a spark, a fire, sometimes an inferno.

But passion alone, without alignment mechanisms, without discipline, is often not productive. It careens, distracts, and ultimately burns itself (and others) out.

The triumph is to align passion to purpose to people.

This aligning is a process, and a demanding one. Passion fights process. Passion hates to be patient. Passion tramples teamwork.

True leaders align passions through process, without dousing the fire. Unfortunately, there is little training about how to balance. In fact, our educational systems tend to polarize. Most formal training tends to dampen creativity and passion. On the other hand, many managers are taught to coddle creatives/passionates as if subjecting them to rigorous process would irreparably damage their mystical skills.

How true leaders balance passion with process is high art. And a topic I will write more about.

“If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.” -Ben Franklin

Also see my post: what is passion?


  1. Bob, This really hit the target with me as I'm a creative. I recently had a conversation with someone who only recognized the intellectual, academic side of education-no sports. no arts. How stifling!

    I took my 2 top passions, cooking and writing & my sub-passion photography created a purpose & that has helped me to align with the right people. I believe it is challenging for a R-brain person. It is easy to careen toward many different ideas at once & I've found it impossible to work on 1 thing until its done so I've accepted that I'll just mult-task.

    Have you read The Element by Ken Robinson? He talks about all different types of talent & that now more than ever before people need to discover their passion. Awesome book! Thanks so much!

  2. "Passion hates to be patient."

    This is very true. I notice this in my self and running my business. Sometimes I am very go go go, forgeting structure and process, and work with passion and excitement. A good leader can channel this passion if used with logical reasoning.

  3. I completely agree with your statement regarding balance. Im that type of person that has far too many potential passions, all without a sturdy foundation in sight. Kinda like a car with a jet engine and no wheels. I loose sight of the structurally significant baby steps needed and jump right into whatever my passion of the week is. Time to pick my top 5 most desirable , structuralize, and well subtract the chaotic mess in between.

  4. Yes, totally agree! The real trick is to get the passion in leadership vision through to passion in the work being done by the employees through to products that raise a passion in the customer's minds for those products (or services).

    You know what I believe is the tool for this alignment, the tool that instills the discipline you speak of? Standards. Not processes. Plain and simple. Standards. Think about it.:) Who sets standards? Who follows standards? And what comes about from these standards? Standards align the processes. Processes are made by the people doing the processes, so they are creations, which can and shold hold passion. So no, processes shouldn't be the tool for passion alingment. It should be the standards you set for those processes. With proper standards, in the end, you make great "passionate" driven products with great quality. Set standards that drive what is right for all three layers, company management, employees and customers and you automatically have a drive to create passionate products. It is that simple.