The Transformative Power of Passion

We assert that nothing has been accomplished without interest on the part of the actors; and—if interest be called passion, inasmuch as the whole individuality, to the neglect of all other actual or possible interests and claims, is devoted to an object with every fibre of volition, concentration all its desires and powers upon it—we may affirm absolutely that nothing great in the World has been accomplished without passion.

—Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of History

A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.

—John C. Maxwell, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader

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Lately, I’ve been watching and rewatching older movies (after finding a large part of The Criterion Collection in digital format on Turner Classic Movies’ FilmStruck). Last weekend, I watched Babette’s Feast. In the movie Babette, a refugee from the war in Paris, arrives in a small, dreary Danish town where she becomes an unpaid cook and housekeeper for two elderly sisters. At the end of the movie, Babette—inspired by her past as the head chef of the Café Anglais—uses all of her winnings from a French lottery ticket to cook a feast for the townspeople. The meal transforms the townspeople and Babette herself.

Ultimately, the movie is about love and its power to transform. Babette’s love fueled both her fondness for the townspeople and her passion for cooking.

In the business world, we often throw around the word “passion.” I’ve lost count of the number of companies that use it as one of their core values or stick it somewhere in their missions statement with phrases like “passionate about customer service.”

The problem is that a lot of companies aren’t truly passionate about what they claim. Instead, they stick “passion” into their core values and mission statements because “passionate” what great businesses are supposed to be—or at least that’s what some book or consultant told them. And, when you ask the executives to describe exactly how they’re passionate about what they claim, the answers are often stilted; their eyes lack the spark of true passion.

Passion must be genuine; it can’t be forced. True passion comes from within. What your company is passionate about should have the ability to become contagious and transform your employees—from having a job or a career into having a calling—and customers—from Brand Nomads into Brand Lovers.

If something doesn’t have the power to transform, it isn’t driven by passion.

Consider:

  • What can you and your company be truly passionate about?
  • Is this what you and your company would be passionate about if money wasn’t a factor?
  • How can this passion transform your employees?
  • How can it transform your customers?
  • How can it transform them—your employees and customers—in ways they don’t expect?
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