passion. — Mia Hamm
asked by an interviewer about his passions for climbing mountains he
replied, “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” This is
both the challenge and the reward for all leaders. It’s as we conquer
ourselves that we are then able to conquer the challenges that are
Passion is your life-blood as a leader. It’s what keeps you up late at
night and gets you up early in the morning. It’s the fuel for your
motivation and is the heartbeat of your purpose. But what happens when
your passions begin to wane?
A recent survey reported on by ABC News would suggest that many
American workers feel overwhelmed and dream of a new job. The survey
was conducted by the Families and Work Institute. They phone surveyed
1,003 U.S. adult workers. They report that 28 percent often or very
often felt overworked. The same amount reported feeling overwhelmed by
their jobs or very often, and 29 percent said they often felt they had
no time to reflect on their work. It also revealed that 70 percent say
they often dream of having a different job.
When these types of sentiments are commonplace in our work
environments then the key ingredient of passion is rapidly becoming a
rare commodity. Employers as well as employees need to be mindful of
some of the warning signs before they take root and claim another
victim. So what are some of the warning signs? There are many. Here
are five for your consideration.
I am not talking about the run-of-the-mill boredom that high achievers
are prone to experience or even that of some slackers. In this
category would be those who once were all in but for whatever reason
are now disengaged. The spark and creativity is gone. A disconnect has
occurred. Perhaps the sense of accomplishment has passed and a new
challenge is in order. Boredom will drain you of your passion so be
sure not to let it linger for long.
When passion is declining and boredom has taken over then ambivalence
will soon follow. If uncertainty or fluctuation in a team member’s
level of commitment or enthusiasm exists then you best pay attention.
Ambivalence is a red flag indicator and if left unchallenged it can be
a negative force that can easily spread. In the case of ambivalence
the energy source changes from a positive to a negative. If this is
occurring then chances are passions are running low. Key here is to
drill down and find out why.
You need positive passionate people on your team. A warning sign of
decreased passion is when it changes from being constructive to being
destructive. When what was once constructive criticism now becomes
malicious then that is a sure sign that passion has eroded. This type
of temperament within your organization must be contained. Passion
that is channeled in the right direction can give your organization
unprecedented opportunities but overly critical team members can kill
Reduction of quality work
If a team member is bored, ambivalent, and overly critical then it
will soon be reflected in their work. Your work is a reflection of
your passion. When your passions are high and your morale is good then
your performance will reflect it. Pay attention to subtle changes in
these areas for warning signs that could indicate there are passion
issues. If dealt with early it can stave off larger problems down the
If any combination of the above signs is part of the mix for you or
your team members then it would not be much of a stretch to conclude
that there is a consistent level of unhappiness involved. It could be
the result of conclusions expressed in the survey — being overworked,
overwhelmed, stressed out — all factors that lead to varying degrees
of diminished passion.
What’s important is to remove the stigma of diminished passions,
recognize it for what it is, and then go to work on correcting it.
Your passions are your greatest assets so protect them at all costs.
Take time to recharge, refresh, and then re-enter with renewed
What do you say?
Doug Dickerson is a syndicated columnist. He writes a weekly column
for this newspaper. To contact Doug Dickerson, email him at