"I Dream in Black and White", Jerusalem 2016
“I Dream in Black and White”, Jerusalem 2016

Every day countless articles and blog posts cross my desk. Occasionally, rather than reading and asking whether I agree, I prefer to borrow the title and write my own version of the post. Sometimes I’ll look back and see how my own thoughts on the subject compare to the other author. Sometimes not. This is one of those posts. Here’s a link to the post that I borrowed the title from. I haven’t read it yet and am not sure if I will. Here are my 8 ideas (rather than “rules”). In no particular order:

  1. Promote autonomy. Autonomy means the right or the ability to self-determine. In an existential sense, autonomy is an undeniable truth. Work cultures that help individuals move toward autonomy are actually helping people live closer to the reality of our human condition. Passion follows because the closer we get to the truth of existence, and of our own existence, the more likely we will discover what really matters to us and both live and work with it in mind.
  2. Care. People want and need to feel cared for. People who feel cared for return the favor and also care about the work that they are doing and the culture in which they are doing it. Caring is one of the most profound and authentic forms of passion that we can embody. If we create a culture of caring we will simultaneously create a culture of passion and love.
  3. Talk utopia. Moral ends don’t justify immoral means, but work that isn’t animated by a future vision of a better something will never be fully impassioned. Utopia is a place that does not exist. It is, theoretically, a better place than the place that does exist. Passion alone won’t help us realize something unprecedented in our work culture, but we can’t get to something new and unattainable without passion.
  4. Live core values. Most work cultures have them. Fewer live them. As far as standard work culture goes, it’s better to not have core values than to have them as mere lip service. But a work culture that is infused with living examples and embodiments of core values will, by necessity, be a passionate work culture.
  5. Say “yes” whenever possible. It’s the first rule of improv acting and it’s generally a good rule if you want passion in your work culture. You can say, “yes and” but if the answer is always (or often), “no” then people will start saying no to themselves without ever considering the possibility of “yes.” “No” is a word drowning in fear and cowardice. “Yes” is a word drenched in passion. Consider this alternative spelling: “Yaaaaasssssss!!!!!!!”
  6. Celebrate. Don’t celebrate frivolously or extravagantly, but celebrate. Celebrate people, celebrate life. Celebrate creativity. Celebrate change. Celebrate innovation. Celebrate things that matter. Celebration without passion is mere pomp. It’s impossibly to truly celebrate without passion. It’s like kissing the bride through a veil. So if you’re lacking passion in your work culture, start celebrating more and maybe passion will follow.
  7. Tell Stories. We’ve all got them. Telling them will help people understand our passion and connect with their own. Every story has a hero. Every story has drama, conflict, and resolution. Every story, however banal, has passion. The same is true with our work cultures. The more we tell stories, the more we connect with our own heroes, conflicts, and resolutions. The more we tell stories, the more we bring passion into the discourse of our work culture.
  8. Contextualize. Speaking of stories. In the workplace, most of our organizations are David. Goliath? That’s the marketplace, the broader milieu, or maybe the Fortune 500 company that looms in our particular field. When we place our work culture in the context of a broader field we remind people that they are with us by choice. We remind people that they could easily be somewhere else if there’s somewhere else that they’d rather be. And we remind people that there’s a good fight to be fought. Contextualizing our work and our workplace can help remind people of the need for passion. After all, if we’re not passionate about our work, who will be? And if we’re not passionate about our work culture, will anyone care if we fail?
8 Ideas for Creating a Passionate Work Culture