“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” which is often attributed to Confucius.
Tonight, I speak to a large number of people on performance and passion. I always think there is no real performance without a little fanaticism from the performer. To me performance without passion is like walking through a desert without water. All effort; no subsistence. A life of passion is a good life, or so we are told. It’s what parents, teachers, managers, coaches champion. But maybe it’s not that simple. I often seek to find the difference between harmonious and obsessive passion, and tell my coachees that understanding the difference is key not only to cultivating long-term health, happiness, and performance. I think we can all agree that a love for one’s job, that passion, that fire, that drives you on, is difficult to fake and helpful to getting up and out to work. However obsessive passion can be damaging and I have seen many leaders overwhelm people with it, or burn out. I am obsessive about what I do. I am not good at taking my own advice. I just love work, and sometimes those around me suffer because of that obsession. It is very important to get the balance right, and to also understand that just because others are not as passionate or as obsessed as you does not mean they are not high performers. There is a lot of real and anecdotal evidence that says that it is ok not to be passionate about what you do. Passion, it seems, is optional. You can still be successful, and you can still find happiness without it. That’s good news. Maybe I can learn from this.