As Passion Capitalists, we often focus on persuading and building passion with external groups (consumers). This is 800 words on the importance of building passion within your organization before focusing on the persuasion of consumers.
Passion Capital, one man’s take below:
The warriors of Sparta. The samurai of Japan. The Buddhist monks of the Himalayas. These are organizations that have accomplished exceptional harnessing of human emotion in the service of performance. They are rich in passion capital. How can we build companies full of people with samurai-like passion? The ability to consistently build and harness passion capital across diverse units and geographies would be the most significant competitive advantage on earth.
I have seen and read about passionate people in my life. Steve Jobs, CEO extraordinaire at Apple, Howard Hughes, brilliant American industrialist, or Mahatma Gandhi, vanquisher of tyranny through non-violent means, these are people full of passion that spent every waking moment driving towards an individual purpose. However, I have rarely seen a company where every member, from security guard to CEO, is exceptionally passionate about both their individual purpose and the purpose of their team.
The secret to building and harnessing passion capital lies within happiness. In the field of positive psychology, happiness is said to occur when our brain is fully enraptured in what we are doing by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of an activity. In other words, happiness is completely focused motivation.
Think back to a time when you were playing in an intense sports match. A game where your mind was being challenged constantly as you worked with an individual and team purpose. You took and controlled a pass from your teammate, you evaded a defender, and you scored a goal. There are feedback mechanisms that reward you with knowledge that you are working towards your purpose. When you are involved in such a game you oftentimes will lose self-consciousness. The notion of time and place is completely lost. Your mental capacity is being challenged and you are enraptured in your purpose. You are experiencing happiness.
It is important to delineate that pleasure is not happiness. Pleasure is sex. Pleasure is watching a sports game on TV. Pleasure is sitting on the beach with a cold beer. Pleasure does not make you happy because it lacks high-order purpose, challenge at an ability-expanding level, and lasting reward. If you asked Tiger Woods today, post scandal, what truly makes him happy he would probably talk about the pursuit of perfection in the game of golf and the building of a loving family with his wife. We all need to occasionally engage in pleasure, it is a healthy thing. However, we need not stray too far from our path of lasting happiness due to the pursuit of fleeting pleasure.
There are several factors that contribute to a mind’s experience of happiness. These include a clear purpose, the opportunity to concentrate, direct feedback for the adjustment of behaviour, a sense of personal control over the situation, and balance between ability level and challenge. In essence, a mind must treat a given situation as a game to experience happiness. People that have mastered the art of turning life into a game, where the meaning of life is to have a purpose and pursue it with focused energy, are overflowing with passion. They see joy where others see monotony. They are able to endure great hardships with relative ease. They build vibrant relationships, families, and companies.
How can two almost identical employees in the same function perform so differently? Factory worker #1 goes into work and accomplishes the bare minimum, hates his job, and looks forward to when he gets home and relaxes in front of the TV. Factory worker #2 goes into work and improves processes, is the only worker able to repair machinery after deciding to teach it to himself over his breaks, and is the factory union president. The difference is that worker #2 sees everything he does as having purpose, challenge, feedback, and reward. This makes him happy and he does everything with passion. Imagine what a company could do with a global team of worker #2-type passion at every level.
When people are, firstly, organized in a way that challenges ability and builds a sense of ownership and, secondly, trained how their mental approach can so easily enhance happiness and performance, I am confident that exceptional levels of human potential can be released and harnessed.