Published on June 26, 2020
“When employees are passionate about their work, their organisations thrive. Once passion is present and reinforced throughout an organisation, it becomes contagious”.
Passion is what drives, motivates and inspires us to innovate and to do great things which are needed now more than ever. It is what keeps us moving despite all the difficulties. With passion, you can achieve anything. Passion has been defined as a strong inclination towards an activity that people like and find important, and in which they invest time and energy. We can refer to passion at work as something that involves “intense feelings experienced by engagement in creative and innovative activities”.
Being passionate about one’s job has both personal and organisational benefits. At a personal level passion at work results in lower levels of job burnout, better interpersonal relations and satisfaction. From the organisations’ perspective, passionate workforces lead to greater employee creativity and effectiveness and to higher performance under challenging situations.
Inspiring creativity and innovation with your teams are key traits of an effective leader and traits needed now more than ever. It always saddens me whenever I hear someone say they’re not creative, as if it’s a gift that is only bestowed on a privileged few. That’s a hugely common misconception about creativity; that to be creative is to paint a pretty picture, or to write an incredible story. Because creativity is so much more than the arts. Science, business, technology, mathematics, engineering, even sport – almost any discipline you can imagine requires an element of problem-solving – and that is what creativity is – the capacity to think differently. The ability to look at something old and see something new.
Additionally, researchers identified passion as an important predictor of success, commitment, and work performance because it is linked to greater motivation and sustained effort over time. Passion is associated with determination, motivation, and a high degree of self-control, being these the reasons why passionate workers persist and accomplish. Furthermore, passion leads to people setting more challenging goals, using more creativity in tackling those challenges, and persisting longer in tasks, even when overcoming obstacles.
In terms of work relationships, being passionate about one’s job also increases a sense of belongingness. Harmonious passion promotes closer and meaningful relationships through more positive and autonomous engagement in the activity. Positive emotions promote a broadening of the mindset and the self, which increases the perceived similarities with others and promotes new and stronger social bonds. Consequently, positive, secure and reciprocal social bonds are conducive to job satisfaction, while a lack of social support is detrimental to job satisfaction.
Relationships at work increase engagement and are a fundamental source of happiness and well-being at work. Passionate employees are seen as highly engaging and full of energy. They are highly popular and make friends easily. This positive effect is essential to maintain positive relations and friendship at work among peers, managers, and employees and managers.
Furthermore, passionate employees create a positive work environment including behaviour such as helping others, mentorship of coworkers, working more than it is expected, or getting completely involved in company activities. This leads to an increase in organisational performance and productivity.
Passion, creativity and innovation however, only emerge when we get off those well-trodden paths and go for a hike through our neural networks to explore new territories. And that requires effort.
It could be what Thomas Edison meant when he said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." Thankfully there are a few things we can do to encourage our brains to put the hard yards in.
1. TRY SOMETHING NEW
Our brains are like incredibly powerful computers, but when we’re born the hard drive is mostly empty. Slowly, over time, we fill it with memories and experiences. The richer and more diverse these experiences are, the greater our chances of coming up with something new and exciting.
From a neurological perspective, being creative and innovative isn’t about making something out of nothing. Instead, it’s about repurposing something that already exists.
Inspiration is often referred to as a lightning strike – a eureka moment – as if it’s a random act that we have no conscious control over. Although it may sometimes feel like that in the moment, in reality, inspiration comes from experience. From getting out into the world and using what’s around us to inspire new ideas. Our brains are novelty seekers, they crave what’s new and exciting because what’s old and familiar becomes less stimulating over time. So, go for a walk. Better still, take a holiday. Read a book. Watch a movie. Do something. Anything. Just so long as it’s new.
2. LET YOUR INNER CHILD OUT TO PLAY
We are constantly told by society to ‘grow up’. To put childish things aside and conform with whatever societal norms are being pushed on to us via TV or social media. To become adults, we've been taught that our inner child – representing our child-like capacity for innocence, wonder, awe, joy, sensitivity and playfulness – must be made to sit on the naughty step for the rest of our ‘oh so mature’ adult lives.
Nonsense. All this attitude does is stifle passion and creativity! It is, in my opinion, the main reason why so many people say they’re not creative. Because they simply don’t believe they’re allowed to be any longer. Or perhaps even, because they’re afraid to do something that society may consider childish. And when we allow that to happen, the magic of imagination becomes buried underneath the responsibilities and burdens of adulthood.
To reconnect with your imagination, you need to let your inner child out to play once in a while. Allow yourself to daydream. Do something impulsive. Listen to a favourite song or album from your childhood. Rediscover your curiosity and question the world around you.
3. EMBRACE FAILURE
Being creative is a lot of fun, but the process of creating something can be agonising. Creativity is a very personal process because the outcome is based on our own unique experiences. Sharing what you create with other people can feel like baring your soul, and the prospect of having your ideas rejected can be terrifying.
Our brains are inherently risk-averse. They've been wired that way for hundreds of thousands of years. It’s one of the reasons why we’ve been so successful as a species. The problem is that our brains interpret rejection as a risk. 200,000 years ago, being rejected by your tribe could be the difference between life and death. Those primal urges are as strong today as they were in our cave-dwelling days. So, it follows that your brain is going to make damn sure you don’t do anything that could put you in that position.
Back then those fears would have been well-founded, but today they’re most likely irrational. And that’s fine, so long as we recognise that pattern of thinking for what it is. The reality is that most people’s successes arise out of the ashes of their previous failures. To be creative, to think outside the proverbial box, you have to be willing to be wrong because failure is a part of the process of success.
Rationalising that anxiety and accepting that you may be wrong more times than you’re right is one of the toughest lessons you can learn as a creative, but it is also the most liberating. As Robert F. Kennedy said,
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”
If you’d like to talk to us about how we can help you measure and harness the passion and creativity in your organisation please get in touch we would love to have a chat. We have a wide range of tools and services, from leadership programmes to masterclasses, from creative cultural transformations to realigning your brand - we can support you to ignite the passion and innovation throughout your business.
About the Author
Graham is a shareholder and Creative Director as Laws of Attraction. Heading up our creative team and is the innovation and inspiration behind our brand design, our EVP creative concepts and works with our clients to re-energise, redesign and rebrand their organisational look and feel in line with their culture and values.