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What is passion?


People often ask me, ‘What is passion?’ and ‘What’s its connection to inspiration?’ When discussing inspiration, terms such as passion, enthusiasm, creativity and motivation, arise consistently. Often these terms are used in conjunction with, or instead of, the term inspiration. Many blogs, articles and books identify passion as a strong feature of leading to inspire others … some confuse the two. They are different … and connected. I spoke with a wonderful educationalist recently who said, ‘leaders who ignited my passion inspired the best out of me’. Emmanuel Gobillot, an author and advocate of connected leadership, indicated that getting to know people’s passion is vital for leaders and enables them to build a vision that connects to and with everyone. Often, inspiring leaders tap into the passion of others by tapping into their own.

What is passion?

Robert Vallerand, an eminent researcher in the field of passion described it as, ‘a strong inclination toward an activity that one likes, finds important, and therefore invests time and energy into’. Passion originates from things we value highly or activities we find meaningful. There is little doubt that passion is contagious and that it can be channeled from leaders to others. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: ‘You cannot kindle a fire in any other heart until it is burning in your own’. The value of leaders’ passion, therefore, cannot be discounted in the context of inspiring others.

Paradoxically, faking passion can be a destructive strategy for leaders. In a leadership context, we know it is difficult to keep up an act or fool others by mimicking passionate intensity. People can see through leaders who are disingenuous or putting on an act. As with leadership, passion must be authentic and natural. Remember, passion only results from things that have meaning for us. Passion is easy to tap into when we articulate the things we value. Passion then naturally enthuses others!

If your keen to find out more information to answer the question, ‘What is passion?’ and its influence on inspiring others, my book ‘a breath of fresh air‘ will give you more detail.

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