Arindam Chaudhuri
Passion at work
What's the key behavioural problem that you see at the top level of Indian organisations ?
The answer to one simple question would answer this. Are you one of them who constantly needs to be motivated by others or do you fall into the category of people who are self driven and passionate about their work? If you belong to the former category and have by default made it to the top, take my word you could be a menace for your organisation. Any CEO/President should inveriably fall into the latter category. Sadly my experience with the corporate world shows the reverse. Demotivated, overstressed, unable to strike a balance between work and family, looking for a change, feeling helpless about the environment around and feeling that the compensation package is not good enough are some of the most common characteristics of todays managers and specially those at the very top. What you have therefore, is an organisation which is being led by people who are not driven enough and as a result we are where we are...

How do you propose to tackle this problem ?
I feel that this problem is essentially due to the fact that modern day people seem to be passionless. We don't work with passion, we don't play with passion, we don't eat with passion, we don't listen to music with passion, our paintings lack passion, we don't express passionately and as a recent study points out our love making has also lost passion. The material world of passionless people is destroying the zeal of living. We have stopped celebrating life. The solution lies in looking at things around us more intensly, feeling them more passionately and cultivating within us an urge to celebrate life. I often advise my clients to take people based upon passion quotient (PQ) that we have developed instead of IQ.

How do you differentiate between people who are passionately involved with what they do and those who are not ?
Passionate people are a boon to organisations as they are high achievers and always remain self driven and motivated. They can be identified from the following character traits.
People with passion at work whistle while they work i.e. they enjoy their work thoroughly. They laugh while at work without any guilt for they know that they give 100% to their work. Thus, they like to take personal responsibility. When they undertake a task they prefer to have it clearly understood that they will see it through. They want to credit for the success, but are equally prepared to accept the blame for failure. They are not "buck passers". They do not blame their subordinates or the government. They like games of skill over games of chance because they feel no control over the out come of the latter.

People with passion at work like reasonable challenges : They do not like excessive odds against their success nor too easy tasks. The reasonable possibility of failure excites them to put in increased efforts. They want to stretch, to put in that extra bit to achieve their goal. On the other hand, people lacking passion prefer an easy task to ensure success and avoid chances of failure. Other wise they take very high risk tasks so that they can make it clear to the world that the task was so difficult and the odds against it so high that no one could really have achieved it. Their fear of failure thus is very high. People with passion at work enjoy calculated risks where they feel being put against a worthy adversary. The element of reasonable challenge helps them maintain their passion levels at work.

People with passion at work have all their senses involved in the job in hand. Their brains work, their eyes work, their ears work and their over all expressions work. You look at them and you know that passion is at work. They often give their work more preference over bodily needs. That doesn't mean that they ignore bodily needs but while at work they often forget when it is time for lunch etc. Work is their lunch.

People with passion at work tend to persist in the face of adversity : They are not easily discouraged by failure. The underlined self-confidence helps them to carry-on despite setbacks. They use failure as a learning experience. They never leave a task unfinished. They feel tense as long as there is something yet undone. This is not to say that they will continually put their heads against the wall. When it becomes clear that the odd's against have become too high they have no hesitation in quitting and shifting tactics.

People with passion at work tend to be innovative : They are so involved with their work that once they have determined their goals they are prepared to try different approaches. They are more goal oriented than techniques oriented. For them, the method of choice is the method which will work best, not necessarily the usual method. If the common sense approach does not work, they will invent a new one. They are creative people not necessarily in the sense of being artists or musicians but in the sense of being ingenious, adapting and modifying whatever is at hand to solve the problem to achieve the objective.

People with passion at work usually demonstrate some interpersonal competence and enjoy long term relationships: They recognise the importance of interpersonal relationships in achieving most objectives; therefore they devote reasonable efforts to develop and maintain adequate relationships with others. They are task oriented and select experts as work colleagues.

People with passion at work look forward towards unique accomplishments and are oriented towards the future : While they may not necessarily have a clear idea of their long term goals, they address themselves with maximum effort to the task of the moment, with an underlying feeling that in some way successful accomplishment of their task is preparing them for more important activities in the future. Perhaps it can be said that they have a sense of destiny i.e. they are destined for bigger things. Accordingly, each current task, no matter how minor, is perceived as important in itself because of its relationship to their growth process and preparation for the future. This feeling of destiny gives rise to a feeling of self confidence and the willingness to make decisions and take responsibility.

People with passion at work are never completely content : They are not satisfied with status-quo nor are they satisfied with what they have achieved. Their standards are high and as soon as they attain one goal they set their sights on a new goal perhaps a little more difficult. They always have a bit of tension. They also want to know the result of their efforts : They want some objective measure of what they are doing which should be available soon after the action is taken. Not only is this feed back stimulating and satisfactory it also helps them to adjust and improve their efforts.

People with passion at work appreciate the environment and things around them. They appreciate goodness in others, goodness in music, food, nature etc. They know when to take time out for what and are different from workaholics.

People with passion at work are said to live "in-process" : They do not require a complete structuring of a situation in order to function. They are better able to tolerate ambiguity. They always have some project underway with so much enthusiasm that they feel the lack of time to get it all done. Their enimity with time is very open. They look at time as a binding chain or an obstacle. They don't like to be bound by routines and schedules. They exemplify this tendency by describing time as a "galloping horse", "a bird in flight", "a fleeing thief". They are active, restless. They are not content to sit quietly. They like to take initiative. They are pioneers, adventurers, are willing to leave the present and venture into the unknown. It shows not only in terms of ideas but also in terms of physical actions. Someone said that the epitah of these type of people could be :

"Here I lie in my final condition
Let it be said, I tested tradition"

"We can characterise the people with passion at work as restless, energetic, striving for, seeking and enjoying challenges. For them life is a reasonable adventure".

The people with the above characteristics tend to be passionate, self driven and motivated, have a positive attitude towards life and are high achievers. They can maintain their passions and levels of motivation through their own enthusiasm, own restlessness and zeal to achieve more. They end up achieving what they set out for since their targets don't have high risk, but nor are these targets with no risk so as to make life dull. Their targets always have moderate risks to keep the challenge in life alive and thus they are able to keep their passion levels high and thus don't need to be motivated by others. They are invaluable assets for any organisation by all means.

Do you have any empirical data to suggest the relationship between passion and success ?
In early 60's Srully Blotnick did a research on 1500 people. These people were divided into two groups and followed for 20 years. Group A made up 83% of the sample and Group B the rest 17%. While the former lot of people embarked on a career choosen for the reason of making money the later choose a career based upon their passions and did what they wanted to do. In 1982 he put his research in Playboy Paperbacks "Getting Rich Your Own Way". At the end of 20 years 101 people had become millionaries. Out of them 100 were from the group which decided to follow their passions.
Passion at work can also reduce the risk of getting a heart disease. A study done by Massachusetts HEW investigating the cause of heart diseases, asked the participants two questions : Are you happy ? Do you love your work ? Results showed that those who answered Yes to both the questions had a better chance of not getting a heart disease.

In our institute at IIPM, we have a course called "Art of Living" where we call successful people to talk about their experiences with life. From Satish Gujral to Shobhna Narayan, from Vasant Sathe to Birju Maharaj and from Gita Chandran to Anil Maetri ; whoever has come has left inside me an ever lasting feeling of the fact that success, happiness and very often even money is directly related to just one thing - passion at work.

You are talking about top level people who have reasons to be passionate at work. What are your suggestions for the others ?
I realise that more and more IT orientation at work, mechanization of work and division of labour has made man alienated from his work. He is a small part of the final product and fails to identify himself with the final output. It is sad and therefore I have been also talking about my concept of "Happy Capitalism". Happy capitalism is about small scale entrepreneurship, social sector entrepreneurship (for any social commitment invariably increases passion at work), small organisations with high involvement levels etc. If you are getting paid Rs. 20,000/- at your job may be it is because you are giving your company Rs. 2 lakhs of returns. Most likely you could become an entrepreneur, earn more and also identify with your work more and display passion at work, incase right now you don't seem to find passion at work.

For others there are other ways. Post Hiroshima Nagasaki, the Japanese who was putting a screw on the door of a Toyota car was passionate - not because his job was exciting but because he was passionately patriotric and he wanted to see his cars taking over the American roads one day. Patriotism enhances passion at work.

At Honda, workers are proud to call themselves "Honda Men". Identification with the vision of the organisation increases passion at work.

Finally, if you fail to do any of the above for many of these things may not be in your hands, nobody can stop you from developing a passion after work. This can often help you work with more enthusiasm, for, one can overcome boredom of a routine by looking forward to other passions. There are doctors whose passion at work increases because they play the Piano after work, there are CEOs whose passion at work increases because they play Golf after work and there are managers who start enjoying work after a vacation (in this case appreciating nature is the underlying passion). A man comes back home totally tired and is in no mood to do anything, yet when his friend calls him out for a game of football he plays for the next two hours as if he was totally fresh and energetic. Ever wondered why?