I smiled to myself as I admired the rhythmic flow of her gait, and how she carried herself with the elegance that is so characteristic of many French women. As she ambled along the Promenade des Anglais she exuded that indescribable vibe that comes from being comfortable in your own skin, a certain je ne sais quoi.
I caught myself in my reverie, and remembered that this experience of watching the world go by, lost in the beauty of each moment and appreciating the special energy of the French Riviera, is why I love the city of Nice.
I’m here on my customary retreat to revamp my own energies and nourish my mojo. I’ve found this habit of taking time out to ‘check under the bonnet’ periodically to be invaluable. And I try to do this at least once a year — not a holiday, just time to ‘be’ and tune into my soul.
I shouldn’t be “working”, yet the fact that I’m writing this proves otherwise. But I’m writing this piece right now because I’m driven by passion. And I can tell you, this doesn’t feel like “work” in any way!
I like to go with the flow at such times, because I know that my passion is the fuel that sustains me on my adventure to nurture my best self. So I listen when it speaks.
And I don’t have to come to Nice in particular for that to happen. It happens in many other places too, because passion isn’t a French thing; it’s a universal language we all understand.
You know how it feels when you’re doing things with passion — sadly, some of us only feel that vibe with our hobbies and rarely bring it to the workplace; or it gets snuffed out by inept bosses and toxic organisational cultures. But when we do, work never seems like “work”. And that’s when we often discover or reveal our true capabilities and do some of our best work.
People with passion bring energy to organisations. That’s why esteemed business leaders treasure this characteristic in people. Steve Jobs, the late Apple boss, believed people with passion can change the world. And Jack Welch, ex-Chairman and CEO of GE who was once named “Manager of the Century” by Fortune magazine, described it as a “powerfully game-changing quality.”
Do YOU feel the power of your passion in the work you’re doing?
If not, you should ask yourself why.
And don’t wait for things to change; change things yourself — ‘could be your perspectives, your thought processes, your attitude to the job, or, maybe, even changing jobs and moving to something that gets your juices flowing.
And if you manage people, you must think about whether or not you’re igniting and harnessing their passion to aid their success and yours.
Success at work and in your career is multifaceted, irrespective of your professional field and your job role. There are technical aspects like workplace processes, technology, and so on. And there are ‘soft’ elements too; like relationships, self-leadership and passion — the intangible factors that are often the underlying differentiators between success stories and tales of woe.
Passion alone doesn’t bring success, but it’s a requisite elixir to get yourself firing on all cylinders.
And it applies in the same way to your team.
It’s nigh on impossible to do your work with heart and operate at peak performance if you have no passion for your work. And it’s just as unviable to boost employee engagement and build a high-performance culture if your people have no passion for their work.
Nigella Lawson isn’t a great chef just by luck; neither is Lionel Messi a prodigious soccer player nor Warren Buffett a successful business magnate simply by accident. They have a passion for their game, just like that other consummate chef, Gordon Ramsay.
The key ingredient in the wonderful meals Ramsay creates is his miscellany of culinary skills — skills that are honed every time he steps into a kitchen. But he only goes in there because he has a passion for his game.
Do you have a passion for yours?
What about your people – are you igniting and harnessing their passion as rocket fuel for your journey to organisational success?
Whether it’s Marketing, Engineering, Procurement, another functional area or the whole enterprise, organisations that attain true success are those that unlock the capabilities of their people and channel unified effort towards their goals. Such organisations are always places of great effervescence – they fizz with the collective passion of the people, who are engaged, in tune with the ethos and deliver performance outcomes that underpin enterprise success.
In case my mistress reads this, I better clarify that I don’t have a passion for French women in general, or that specific lady on the promenade in particular. I didn’t even notice the colour of her lime green dress, or the amazing lived-in texture of her luxuriant dark hair, or the tan leather Roman sandals in which she sashayed so chicly, or… Sweet Jesus! Somebody get me a spade!