Passionate? Give me a break!

Last night’s episode of The Apprentice was one of the best yet. Alan Sugar sent the candidates into the art world, with spectacular results. The candidates, who tell us every week how hard-headed and business-aware they are, allowed a bunch of airy-fairy artists to run circles around them.

Funniest of all was Katie Hopkins, who reckons she is an alpha female. She wasn’t very alpha when she was dealing with a prima-donna artist throwing a tantrum. “We’re passionate about your work,” she gushed to Elisabeth Hoff, before letting her dictate her terms and ban the team from her seeing her client list.

Fans of business bullshit use the word ‘passionate’ a lot. They can be passionate about anything from selling burgers to a new financial system. But when artists use the word, they really mean it. The artists all knew that Katie wasn’t really passionate about art. If she were, she’d be doing it herself, or at least selling it. These people do passionate on a completely different scale and they knew Ms Hopkins was bullshitting and decided to punish her for it.

Passionate is one of those inflationary words used by people who are just trying too hard. When business people say ‘passionate’ they really mean enthusiastic or, at best, excited. But these words have been around for a while so by saying ‘passionate’, people think they are going one better. Rarely do they stop to think about what passion really means. Most dictionaries define ‘passionate’ as “having or dominated by powerful emotions” or something similar. If people really were passionate about a new brand of toothpaste, or a project management methodology, they would be psychotic.

I am not passionate about many things. I save my passion for important stuff, like helping my family and friends, defending people from bullying and abuse or for issues of principle like freedom of speech. How could I ever be passionate about making money for shareholders or partners? Often I am enthusiastic about work, sometimes I’m even excited by a particular project but passionate? Nah! Only a complete nutter would be that.

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2 Responses to Passionate? Give me a break!

  1. jameshigham says:

    Excellent points here about passion – I’ll use these on Tuesday in the Focus, if you don’t mind.

  2. Rick says:

    No problem, James. I’m sure i’m not the only person to reach for the sick bag when people spout this sort of crap.

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