Purposeful Passion

Posted: September 18, 2013 by Matthew Hanwell in Collaboration, Human Resources, Leadership

I recently purchased a 1966 Land Rover. As a form of transport I can’t think of a rational reason to buy a car that is 45+ years old. However I have always been interested in classic cars, for me a 1966 Series IIA Land Rover is about as iconic a classic car as you can find, and given its capabilities and the way is it put together it is also ‘rather’ practical and can go almost anywhere. I have been looking to buy one for a couple of years, now that I have bought one I’m looking forward to maintaining it and keeping it in good working condition, some would say a rolling restoration. Oh and it used to be a Fire Engine, which gives it a certain unique feeling, and some attention.

Having been an owner now for a couple of months, one of the first things you do is to search the web, what information is available, any help, advice, support? Are you alone, or are there other people who share your interest and passion?

I have been amazed at the flourishing communities that I have found on the web related to old Land Rovers. The sharing, generosity and the support people have given is quite remarkable. From discussions on the smallest technical detail, discussions on suppliers, parts, quality, through to people asking for help and advice and receiving it in abundance. People are sharing the progress of their own restoration projects, often receiving encouragement and support, other forum members demonstrate their interest in how these projects are progressing, and actively request ‘more photos’ as a status update. People openly share the challenges and difficulties they are having, other forum members offer support guidance, practical advice as to how to overcome them. These communities are all virtual, with as far as I can see members located all over the world, and I imagine most have never meet physically, but it feels as if when there is an abundance of passion, with a common purpose it unleashes something in us, our caring and our willingness to give, to share and to help.

Having experienced this for my new hobby, I started to think about the world of work and the extent to which I have experienced this level of passion, purpose, generosity, sharing, support and caring at work? The answer for me is not that often, why ?

I think that all too often we take it for granted that at work we share a common purpose. Such a purpose is often in the form of a vision, a mission statement, perhaps a slogan, this may appear in power points, shared on websites, used in marketing, but I do wonder how real the shared purpose is? By real I mean it is something that people within the organization are actually guided by, something which people intrinsically understand, something which gives them a feeling that it is worth working for, something that is meaningful, worthwhile and transcends a financial objective or a business goal. I fear that such a purpose, perhaps a call to action, a corporate mission statement while easily recited, and frequently used, fails to inspire the very people that it should, the employees.

It is difficult to be passionate without focus, without a sense of purpose. No doubt we can be passionate about our individual professions, perhaps our teams, our own roles, and the work that we perform individually, but as I’m experiencing with the Land Rover communities is there an overarching purpose that releases the passion within us collectively, one that that transcends the individual. We have free choice when it comes to our hobbies, our interests, so no surprise this is where we demonstrate our passion, we choose to spend our time, our energy, our effort, but why should this diminished when we are at work ?

Does a corporate environment nurture generosity? Does it encourage and reward (and I don’t mean financially) sharing, and support? While at work do we feel like helping other people within our organization, voluntarily, or are we all exclusively focused on our individual goals and objectives?

I believe organizations that are looking to release untapped energy, passion and authentically engage their employee can learn a lot of lessons from such hobby based communities. After all we all have the capacity to be passionate at work; the question is what do organizations need to do to create the conditions where that passion can be releases and focused on the organizations objectives.

Anyway back to the spanners and grease for me, but imagine if we could unleash even 10% more of our passion at work?




  1. Nisha Ninan says:

    What would trigger passion in the workplace ? – beyond my own needs to enhance my skills, grow the corporate ladder, meet my financial goals, etc…A larger sense of purpose beyond me and myself that inspires to go above and beyond. An aspiration that has no hidden agenda or selfish motive, but in itself is self satisfying, both in the journey and the destination. It could be as clear as nurturing hobbies and talents, to larger causes within or outside the organisation – it is an opportunity to be in touch with ones identity and true calling. Will an organisation give me the space to be who i am, to live my values and my beliefs ?
    …….And Fully Realise the True Potential of its employees.

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