Where did our passion go?

“Is nothing sacred anymore”, I thought, as I received my 200th holiday greetings e-card from some person I have never heard of, trying to use the opportunity to have me tell me about his company’s incredible achievements in 2011. Buddy – if you want to sell me something, or tell me how great your company is, just send me a pitch claiming you’re the best – and I may even read it.  But pretending you know me and using that as the guise to get my attention, just incites me to press that delete button and not give you a second of my time.

This is just one example of how social media is driving the human element out of our business interactions.  There’s just too much interaction out there, too much opinion, too much self-promotion and – let’s face it – too many bloody people with seemingly nothing better to do. Come to think of it, I don’t think there has been a time in my career when I’ve known so many people who I can’t figure out what is it they actually do all day, how they make any money for themselves, or others.  And I can’t figure out, for the life of me, why some companies pay some people to do what it is they supposedly do all day.

In fact, I probably spend more time avoiding people these days than trying to network with them – few seem to have anything interesting to say, any new ideas about where the world is going and simply are following the commonly agreed set of “industry trends” that most people have been force-fed by industry influencers who are running out of sexy new ideas (or ran out a while back, and are bumbling along on empty until they find something new to grab onto).

What happened to the times when peoples’ opinions mattered – even if they were wrong, or were just plain off-the-wall?  Economic and political paralysis, exacerbated by inane electronic social networking has sapped so much of the passion, creativity and enthusiasm from our professional lives.  I find myself increasingly spending time with people who are interested in sport, music, movies or just playing with the kids, because at least there is enthusiasm and passion there.  But going out for dinners with faceless executives to talk about cloud-bloody-computing – and how it is going to change the world… without being able to explain why, just that it will, because they need to sound cloudy… don’t get me started!

What we need is a dose of renewed optimism, that our world has an exciting future, that there will be areas for renewed growth, renewed innovation, renewed opportunities.  That we have exciting careers where we can constantly find new challenges and invigorating things to do.  Have you ever known a time when so many people cling to the job they hate because it’s the only way they know how to make a paycheck these days, and are too nervous to even consider a new challenge?  Too many people are stuck in a professional status quo – and have been since the 2008 crash scared the professional lives out of so many.  I have lost count of the number of people who are just plain miserable in their jobs, have lost confidence in their management and their companies’ offerings and directions, and are losing that spark and desire to find something that will give them that renewed energy and that passion?  Many people seem to be so jaded these days, and it worries me that they will struggle to ever be truly energized and passionate about what they do again.

So let’s make 2012 the year of getting passionate again!  Let’s dig deep to be honest with ourselves about what gets us up in the morning – what will make us look forward to going to work again.  Paralyzed politicians won’t come with the answers, and neither will directionless corporate managers – only you can summon up the courage and passion to make a difference.  Take a risk – jeez, take a pay cut if you have to – but if you lose your passion for what you do, you’ll find it harder and harder each year to get it back.

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11 Comments

  1. Gareth Johnson
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Don’t hold back, Phil!

    Thank you for saying what had to be said. I especially agree about the fact that people need to look within themselves for the answers,

    Gareth Johnson

  2. Posted December 29, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Amen, my friend!

    a plea for sprezzatura in 2012

    http://bit.ly/tbhTS4

  3. Joe Hogan
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Happy New Year thanks for stating what we all believe hopefully each of us can find the courage to act.

  4. Russell Ives
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    Noone could have ranted this better – nice post, Phil!

  5. Emre Ozkilic
    Posted December 30, 2011 at 3:32 am | Permalink

    Thanks for putting down what I’ve been feeling but couldn’t name. I’ve very recently come across your blog and enjoying your insights immensely. I sincerely and personally wish you a happy new year.

  6. Paul Smith
    Posted December 30, 2011 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Great post Phil. You’ve really called out the poor use of social media from people bored in their jobs and lacking in passion and creativity – a real problem in today’s business world,

    Paul

  7. Eric
    Posted December 30, 2011 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Right on Phil!

    I would go even further to suggest that social media is encouraging bored and pissed off workers to spend all their time tweeting and blogging crap and following others, as opposed to focusing on being good at their jobs and being creative. Social media is providing an outlet for their mediocrity and is burning up all their time and focus.

    Eric

  8. Rudi DR
    Posted December 30, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Phil,

    Again you’re cracking the whip just on the right spot. I haven’t stopped yawning for the last 4 years. Passion and genuine excitement about sea change ideas is what our industry needs, not the smug ‘I’ve said it so rightly’ pads on the own back.

    Have a great 2012 and keep that great stuff flowing our way.

    Rudi

  9. Posted December 30, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Great points and ones that I’m sure many of us have experienced. Always remember that this is the ‘street beggar’ paradox, it’s the result of low entry point which puts being a business entrepreneur at anyone’s fingertips. Unfortunately this means that old ways die hard and they view everything as a window of opportunity. This creates opportunities for those of us to cull out the bull from the facts. Happy New Year to you and yours.

  10. Posted January 4, 2012 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    The main thing I hear in the media in Belgium (the country holding the world record in time to form a government), Europe and the US is how our politicians are lacking vision and are just reacting short term minded to the issues they are facing. But their behaviours are indeed a reflection of our individual behaviours, and indeed my happiest times are when I am taking care of my 5 month old toddler, spend time with the family, practice my yoga-meditation hobby and help people to see their reality differently. Even though I know and have every confidence that new business and economic models are on their way. The old just needs to be shaken up so badly for us to realize we cannot fix, we need to create. With my best regards from Brussels.

  11. Faisal
    Posted January 9, 2012 at 1:44 am | Permalink

    You hit the nail right on the head Phil. Didn’t think anyone could have put this so well, but am glad you did. Thanks for inspiring me for 2012. Hats off to you.

    Have a great year Phil :-D

    Faisal

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