The Downside to Passion?
In his "Work Matters" blog at Psychology Today, Robert I. Sutton, author of "The No Asshole Rule," asserts detachment can be as important as passion for maintaining well-being. Sutton presents two main reasons: 1) human cognitive limits prevent us from being fully passionate about everything we do, so we need to be indifferent about things that don't matter; and 2) passion is a recipe for self-destruction if you are in a poisonous setting, so exercising detachment is necessary for self-preservation.
Sutton also discusses change management consultant Ann Michael's idea that passion can blind one to the big picture and be confused for license to be a jerk. He points to David Maister's confession of being an asshole when he "got overexcited and overenthused on a topic."
Passion is a hallmark of the Inner Purpose in my 7 Purposes of Wellness model. Here is an excerpt from my Introduction to Purpose eBook:
The Inner Purpose stays mostly below the surface, subconsciously and instinctively seeking out pleasure and emotional release. Zest is the character strength of the Inner Purpose, helping us enjoy life with gusto. The Inner Purpose is also the home of our coping skills; learned behaviors that alleviate stress. Although coping skills develop to protect us, as we grow they can become counter-productive.
The Inner Purpose can become neglected when we try to trump passion with reason. Both can, and must, coexist in order for us to make choices that are aligned with our Higher Purpose.
I had never considered indifference to be a valuable aspect of the Inner Purpose; I would have categorized it as a counter-productive coping skill. However, looking at Sutton's reasoning I have to agree that we don't need to be passionate about taking out the trash, brushing teeth, or the other myriad maintenance tasks we engage in daily. Related to Sutton's second point, I think of times I've been in unhealthy workplaces (which is more than a few) and what I did to make it through the day with my passion and purpose intact - I maintained my outlook that what other people think of me is none of my business, which is detachment.
This shows me again that others' perspectives might seem to be at odds with mine but if I look a little more closely I see they are not. That's important in the workplace, too.
(h/t David Yamada at Minding the Workplace, http://newworkplace.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/is-emotional-detachment-an-... )
link to Sutton's post: http://www.psychologytoday.com/em/45788