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It's time to stamp out Passion and Love in our Workplaces!

by Rick Baker
On Sep 28, 2016

When people say “passion in the workplace”:

  • What does that mean to you? 
  • What does that mean to them?

It seems the ‘motivational gurus’ cannot break the habit of using the word 'passion' when talking about ideal workplaces and their followers cannot get beyond feeling little twinges of inspiration, albeit incredibly short lived twinges, when they hear messages about 'passion in the workplace'.

But – really – what does all this talk about 'passion in the workplace' mean and does it contain any value?

Bottom lines… 

For donors of motivational messages about workplace-passion: Do these people actually care or think about the meaning of the word passion or do they just spew out the word, because they believe it’s in vogue or because they cannot stop themselves from riding the wake of a cliché? 

For recipients who are inspired by workplace-passion messages: What, exactly, are they thinking when they get inspired? Specifically, what does the word passion mean to them?

Some context…

Here’s the way the Merriam-Webster Dictionary presents the various meanings of the word passion:

Simple Definition of PASSION

  • a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something
  • a strong feeling (such as anger) that causes you to act in a dangerous way
  • a strong sexual or romantic feeling for someone

Full Definition of PASSION

1. often capitalized: a) the sufferings of Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death; b) an oratorio based on a gospel narrative of the Passion

2. obsolete :  suffering

3. the state or capacity of being acted on by external agents or forces

4.a) (1) emotion his ruling passion is greed (2) plural the emotions as distinguished from reason; b) intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction; c) an outbreak of anger

5.a) ardent affection : love; b) a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept; c) sexual desire; d) an object of desire or deep interest

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

So this does not get too complicated…

…let’s just consider the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s Simple Definition of PASSION

  • a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something (Bullet Point 1)
  • a strong feeling (such as anger) that causes you to act in a dangerous way (Bullet Point 2)
  • a strong sexual or romantic feeling for someone (Bullet Point 3)

Bullet Point 1 – Yes, this definition fits workplaces. At least, in theory, enthusiasm/excitement has the potential to be a productive driver in workplaces. Obviously, in practice, enthusiasm/excitement will face limitations in working people and in workplaces:  

  • for the former, there will be ‘good days and bad days’ where enthusiasm/excitement do and do not happen – after all, we are only human
  • for the latter, there will be ‘right times and places’ where enthusiasm/excitement fit and do not fit – after all, all those other people at our workplaces are also only human

All considered, the first simple definition fits workplaces. For example, if we were to say “We are enthusiastic about our work” or “We are excited about our work” then people would interpret these as good things…which makes me wonder – why don’t the motivational gurus just say those things instead of using the word 'passion'? [It seems to me the answer to that last questions rests somewhere between hyperbole and thick syrup.]

Bullet Point 2 – No, we do not want people to get angry and act in dangerous ways when they are at work. To the extent motivational gurus use the word passion to inspire people, most of us hope that inspiration will not result in angry mindsets and dangerous actions…which makes me wonder…why would the gurus take the risk of this interpretation by using the word passion? [It seems to me the answer to that last question must be they are 2nd bullet-point passionate about using the word 'passion' in their motivational messages.]

Bullet Point 3 – Now, you might find it discomforting that motivational gurus argue in favour of bringing strong sexual and romantic feelings to work…i.e., bringing love to work. I mean, you may be thinking there’s a time and place…and the workday isn’t the right time and the workplace isn’t the right place. Regardless, the motivational gurus, many of them for many years, have been arguing in favour of bringing passion and love to the workplace! 

As one example, here’s a very-recent Simon Sinek quote:

“True love exists in business. It's when employee and employer are amazingly grateful to have each other. We should all have true love at work.”

When I read that quote, I wondered if Simon Sinek has ever read a dictionary definition of the word ‘love’. For example, has he read the Merriam-Webster definition:

Simple Definition of LOVE

  • a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person
  • attraction that includes sexual desire : the strong affection felt by people who have a romantic relationship
  • a person you love in a romantic way

In this English language we use, there is a considerable difference between loving and being grateful. Arguments promoting "we should all have true love at work" are patently silly. And, unfortunately, Simon Sinek is not alone in his passion and love arguments. Clearly - the motivational gurus are going too far in their quest for catchy slogans and advice: they are squeezing clichés beyond the limits of common sense. 

Clearly, it's time to stamp out Passion and Love in our Workplaces!

PS: If you are eligible and you meet a willing recipient for your love and passion at your workplace then the above is not intended to dissuade you or the object of your affection. However, I must extend two suggestions of caution: (1) there is a time and a place so you may want to consider off-premises and after-hours for your exchange of love and passion and (2) don’t confuse your wonderfully-human emotions and mind-states with arguments that suggest your love and passion have anything to do with business cases, workplace excellence or ROI.

PPS: In recognition of my motivational hero, Napoleon Hill. Yes – Napoleon Hill championed the value of transmuting sexual energy into energy to be used for workplace thought and action [see Hill’s 1937 classic, ‘Think and Grow Rich’]. Hill saw the tremendous energy embedded in the emotions he described as 'love' and 'sex'. He recognized, if sex energies could be channeled [i.e., transmuted] into different endeavours, including business work, then the results could be stupendous. I expect the current motivational gurus haven't misunderstand/misinterpret Hill’s messages…after all, it seems they haven’t even taken the time to read dictionaries let alone the works of motivational leaders who did take the time to do very deep thinking before putting thoughts to their audiences.

PPPS: I recognize some workplaces rely upon passion and/or love - most of them deliver incredible humane and charitable services...others are are just plain illegal. 

Controlling the common littlenesses of human nature

by Rick Baker
On Aug 29, 2016

William MacDonald described Benjamin Franklin as a man who could control the common littleness of human nature1. It is clear MacDonald had tremendous respect for the special gifts Benjamin Franklin brought to Mankind, as a citizen of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the United States of America…and the rest of the world.

When MacDonald talked of Franklin controlling the littlenesses of human nature, he was describing Franklin’s innate ability to understand the littlenesses housed in himself and other people and adjust himself in order to get around those littlenesses so he and others could accomplish great things. 

By the mid-1700’s, when he was less than 50 years old, Benjamin Franklin had become a worldwide phenomenon…a true polymath…a true leader of men…a true leader of thought...a leader in scientific thought...a true hero.

Franklin’s accomplishments are mind-boggling.

As examples:

By his early 20’s Franklin was a self-made business success.

By his late 40’s Franklin was recognized [worldwide] as a gifted scientist.

Between those milestones he had:

  • created a mastermind, gathering intelligent friends to philosophize, share ideas and create practical solutions to Philadelphia's problems [his Junto, also known as the Leather Apron Club]
  • created time-management/personal-organization tools and decision-making tools...his pioneer work in this area lives on in legacy, for example - 'Franklin Covey'
  • co-founded an early [if not America’s first] subscription library
  • co-founded an academy that became the University of Pennsylvania
  • led the community movement that funded the first paving of roads in Philadelphia
  • built an international printing empire by creating partnerships, funding & franchising a series of strategically-located print shops 
  • built a successful newspaper - the Pennsylvania Gazette 
  • created a bestseller – 'Poor Richard’s Almanack'
  • created Philadelphia’s first volunteer fire brigade
  • taught himself French, Italian and Spanish languages
  • served as Philadelphia's postmaster
  • invented the Franklin Stove, an energy-efficient heating system still in use today…then refused to patent it because he felt he had benefited from others’ inventions so others should benefit from his

Of course, Franklin was a well-respected civic and provincial politician…long before he became America’s political representative to other nations prior to, during, and after the American Revolution.

Yes – Franklin was one of the 56 who risked the gallows2 by signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

And, of course, Ben Franklin did that experiment with a storm, lightning, a kite and a key…and he invented the lighting rod and the best methods of installing it. This invention illustrated to the world that electricity could be controlled, to a degree, by Mankind. That illustration helped introduce a new era of scientific thought and experimentation that is still advancing today. And the lightning rod saved countless lives and reduced, on a world-wide basis, damage and loss of property caused by lighting fires.

On top of these things, Franklin was a commissioned Colonel who built a series of fortresses to protect Pennsylvanians from the French and Indian invasions in the mid-1700's, He personally led Pennsylvanians into battle against these invading forces...he led peace talks with the native Indians and, after the war had ended, he ensured the protection of peaceful Indians from unruly Pennsylvanian mobs.

Benjamin Franklin did much more than these things.

Here's another sampling...

Franklin left Boston at the age of 16, venturing out on his own to Philadelphia. He was a vegetarian during his teenage years. He understood the value of character and he practiced character-building ‘virtues’ throughout his life. This practice started when Franklin was about 20 years old. Somehow, he was wise well beyond his years. Somehow, he understood his ‘littlenesses of human nature’ and he committed to removing his own to full extent he could accomplish that goal. Benjamin Franklin worked on that throughout his life, for over 60 years. Franklin's desire to design and build his character along strict guidelines allowed him to control many, but not all, his ‘littlenesses’. He was candid about his shortcomings and he took a humble stance on his amazing accomplishments. 

Benjamin Franking is a man worth studying…and his practices - his good habits - are certainly worth emulating. 

It is never too late to start emulating heroes.

 

Footnotes

  1. 'The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin:  Now First Printed in England from the Full and Authentic Text', (1905)
  2. These are words Napoleon Hill used to describe the ‘founding fathers’ of what is now the U.S.A. 

I rarely write about morals...

by Rick Baker
On Aug 9, 2016

I rarely write about morals.

However, driven with hero worship, I want to share the 'self-direction' Benjamin Franklin provided to himself when he was in his early 20's. Somehow, this very wise fellow had the ability at a very young age to write 'life instructions' aimed at building the character he desired. He ranked his virtues [as presented below] and created and implemented a plan for developing, one-by-one, those virtues. He followed the plan for years, took daily notes on his progress, and carried his notebook with him throughout his life. 

Here are the virtues Benjamin Franklin wrote to himself then worked at throughout his life...


13 Virtues

 

1. Temperance.

Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

 

2. Silence.

Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

 

3. Order.

Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

 

4. Resolution.

Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

 

5. Frugality.

Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.

 

6. Industry.

Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

 

7. Sincerity.

Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

 

8. Justice.

Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

 

9. Moderation.

Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries as you think they deserve.

 

10, Cleanliness.

Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.

 

11. Tranquility.

Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

 

12. Chastity.

Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.

 

13. Humility.

Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

 

About Humility -

When he was 78 years old, Benjamin Franklin wrote,

"I cannot boast of much success in acquiring the reality of this virtue, but I had a good deal with regard to the appearance of it. I made it a rule to forbear all direct contradiction to the sentiments of others, and all positive assertion of my own." 

and he wrote,

"In reality, there is, perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it, perhaps, often in this history; for, even if I could conceive that I had compleatly overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility."

What honest admissions! 

 

 

Good things come to those who wait...if they're working while they're waiting.

by Rick Baker
On Jun 21, 2016

Old sayings contain wisdom that has withstood the test of time. 

'Patience is a virtue.' That saying contains a simple, valuable piece of wisdom: you will fare better if you choose patience over impatience.

'Good things come to those who wait.' That saying contains the wisdom of 'patience is a virtue', however, it stretches that wisdom a little too far. 

Waiting - patience alone - does not cause good things to come. Good things come when we work the right way at the right things and understand that good things don't always happen quickly and sometimes good things take mysterious routes before they arrive. This is consistent with a high-level of (but not a zealous/fundamentalist) belief in the Law of Attraction...i.e., I mean - in broad terms, the good things we do will, some day/some way, bring good things to us.

Good things come to us when we work the right way at the right things. Perhaps, not all the time but at least some of the time. Unless you hold a fatalistic viewpoint, a belief in pre-set destiny, you believe your actions will generate results. And, you believe working the right way at the right things will tend to bring about good things.

Good things come to us when we combine patience with good work.

Find your balance between courage and consideration of others.

by Rick Baker
On May 9, 2016

Inspired by one of Stephen R Covey's phrases, "...balance between courage and consideration"

Courage and consideration of others are two character traits.

Perhaps, courage and consideration are antagonistic toward one another? Certainly, to a degree courage and consideration can cause our thoughts to move in different directions. The character qualities known as courage and consideration can bring opposing goals and make people feel conflicted. So, there is value in considering the need to balance one against the other and vice-versa. 

It seems to me, courage and consideration come into balance when true & pure self-confidence is present. The words "true & pure" are there to remove the possibility that self-confidence is less than sincere, laced with bravado, or clouded by bluster. True & pure self-confidence survives internal tests...it passes conscience tests and it promotes peace of mind. When confidence like that exists, courage and consideration are in balance.

To be more clear: When true & pure confidence exists, from the perspective of the owner of that confidence, courage and consideration are in balance. These concepts - courage, consideration and confidence - are very personal/subjective. Individuals know whether or not their self-confidence is true & pure. And, they know when their self-confidence is ego-speak...not so true or pure, when tested by their conscience and monitoring their feelings...[or when subjected to objective 3rd party testing such as stress studies].

Perhaps, you care about being courageous - perhaps, you see courage as an admirable character trait?

Perhaps, you want to be considerate of other people...perhaps, you see consideration as an admirable character trait?

Perhaps, you see value in possessing both these character traits and keeping them in balance.

If that's the case, work at building true & pure self-confidence.

[Consider the wisdom Napoleon Hill provided in 'Think and Grow Rich', (1937).]

Why can't you teach an old dog new tricks?

by Rick Baker
On Dec 8, 2015

Certainly, there must be some old dogs out there who can learn new tricks.

Maybe people have sold old dogs short, writing them off too quickly.

Or…

Maybe most old dogs have written off humans, for giving up too quickly.

Or...

Maybe, under too much domestication, old dogs have evolved to rely on humans to evolve better teaching of new tricks.

Or...

Maybe old dogs need to be hungrier in order to learn new tricks.

Regardless, I’m convinced some old dogs can learn new tricks.

 

PS: On top of all this, there's that admonition about 'Letting sleeping dogs lie". I cannot see how sleeping dogs can possibly be liars...I need to see some concrete evidence waking dogs are liars before I can accept the concept that sleeping dogs can be liars. Seems to me it is time to reconsider the value of all the ancient wisdom involving our canine friends.

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