Passion is infectious; we are drawn to people who are passionate about topics and goals. We share their excitement and feel the rush, it is authentic and attractive. You cannot really fake passion, it is the raw unfiltered outflow that makes it recognizable as genuine.
I have been entertained by friends who are passionate about chess, dance and bird watching even though I have little interest in these topics. Yet when brought alive by genuine enthusiasm it is interesting. I have been talked into crazy adventures by people buzzing with excitement. I have invested in companies, enthralled by the passion for a vision described by their founders. I am not alone, it is a fundamental human urge.
Passion for a cause is powerful and while we cannot manufacture it, we can learn to channel our own genuine passion to help on projects. By opening up on what you are passionate about we can bring enthusiasm into any endeavor. Yet, we should be aware that passion is independent from talent.
Talent, the measure of proficiency, often accompanies experts who love their craft. They are focused, passionate and accomplished at their art; think of the great musicians and painters, they have passion and talent.
I have a passion, but not much of a talent for mountain biking, this is not the best combination. I love to ride, but crash more than most and as I’m getting older take longer to heal than before. I need to develop my biking skills, yet while still keen and willing to get out I have plenty of opportunities to learn and improve (or get into more trouble.)
The good news in the work environment is that a little passion about a cause goes a long way. The idea of leaders having to be charismatic rock-stars to get people to follow them is a myth. Research by Jim Collins in “Good to Great” proved this repeatedly; the Level 5 Leaders, of the “Great” companies were more often described as “quiet” and “considered” than “flamboyant” or “outspoken”. There just needs to be the occasional sparks of unprocessed joy for a goal to keep people engaged and looking for that next glimpse of passion.