Over the past 3 weeks, my “passion” has been a topic of discussion by unrelated people or groups in my life. It’s like a Twitter #trendingtopic or something. Under normal circumstances people calling you passionate would be a good thing, right? I would have loved to take it all as a compliment but because the first remark had an undertone of negativity, it made me hypercritical of the ones that followed even though they were likely meant as a compliment.
How could being passionate be a bad thing? Well, okay, if it’s misguided or misdirected that would be bad (I’m sure Hitler was considered passionate), but that’s not what we were talking about. I was planning to roll out an upgraded benefit for staff that would be better than what they have and it would be cheaper because the employer is kicking in a significant amount of money over the other benefits. A no-brainer, right? The kicker was that the employees have to elect it. They can stick with what they have if they’d like – most people don’t like change and it was a bit more complex - but I wanted to show them the real value so they could make an informed decision and save themselves some money if it was the right plan for them.
As I prepared to hold three meetings with groups of staff to explain this new and improved benefit, I walked through it with our CEO and some colleagues. When all was said and done, everyone agreed it was a great value, but the comment was made that I may want to have one of my staff give the presentations because I’m too passionate about it. I must have had a confused look on my face because the clarifying comment came next “Lauren, you could sell ice cubes to Eskimos.”
Okay, I get that you want people to choose it because they were well informed rather than persuaded, but I know the difference. I really believed that I was being thoroughly informative … passionately committed to providing them cost effective options that have advantages over the existing alternatives… not persuading or “selling.”
A couple of days later I was at church talking with someone about the Life Coaching ministry and they said, “it so clear how passionate you are about helping people.” Now that’s a good thing, right? I know it was meant as a compliment yet on the inside I cringed a bit, still stinging from the dig at work. There were three or four other instances that week where I was talking about something – work, church, life coaching, MBTI, making peanut butter fudge, something – and a comment was made about my passion.