Passion Isn’t an Emotion. It’s a Priority Statement

What does it mean when someone says they are “passionate” about their job?

Or, if a company says it’s looking for people who are passionate and who bring their passion to work?

Are they talking about love? Energy? Enthusiasm? Or something else?

Sometimes, it’s hard to know. Because the word “passion” seems to have so many meanings, depending on who’s speaking.

And, for most people, “passion” is interpreted as an emotion.

Which is why so many companies believe that a “passionate” employee has to be emotionally vested in their job to be continually successful.

This simply isn’t true.

In our experience, when someone says they are “passionate” about something, it’s not really tied to an emotion at all.

Here’s why.

You can be passionate without being emotional. In fact, most people are.

Because passion is really a priority statement. It’s about importance. Nothing more than that.

In other words, if you are passionate about something, you have decided that it is important enough in your life to spend the time, energy, and effort to get really good at it and focus on it.

It gets priority.

It doesn’t mean you’ve assigned emotion to it yet.

It just means that the thing you are passionate about is important.

Let’s test that by looking at how we use the word “passion” in our emotional arena.

When it comes to emotions, we use it to qualify the intensity of the emotion.

For example… “I’m frustrated” is clearly not as intense as “I’m passionately frustrated”.

By using the word “passionately” as a qualifier, we intensify the emotion.

And, that’s why we never invert the statement and say, “I’m frustratedly passionate”.

Because no one would understand what we really mean. It wouldn’t make sense.

This example clearly demonstrates that “frustration” is an emotion and “passion” is not.

Passion is a priority statement.

This principle obviously applies to all other emotions.

If you are a manager and you are trying to encourage and support “passion” in the workplace, it may be helpful to understand this subtle but important distinction between “passion” and “emotion”.