Getting up close and personal can have its downsides


[Image courtesy of Jacinta Lluch Valero at Flickr Creative Commons]

I’ve recently finished a thought-provoking book by Sir Ken Robinson. He’s a British author, speaker and education advisor whose TED talk How Schools Kill Creativity I’ve recommended before. (If you haven’t seen it, you should – you’ll be one of a select group of over 31 million who’ve done so.) Appropriately enough, as we head towards St Valentine’s Day, the book is called The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. The title says it all really. It’s about doing the thing you love, and how identifying that thing isn’t always easy. But it’s worth taking the time to find it, as it’ll ignite your passion and transform your life. Don’t you love a story with a happy ending? There are many inspiring stories, from John Lennon to Richard Branson. And if you’re saying ‘yes, but they were great talents waiting to emerge’, then Robinson heads you off at the pass by pointing out that for many of these people, there were nothing but obstacles along the way. It’s only because we know that they were subsequently successful that we retrospectively see the signs. But at the time, it could have gone either way. As Robinson says, there are lots of passionate people out there who never make anything of their passion. And others, who through sheer dogged determination, push mediocrity to the outer reaches of success. How many people can you think of offhand who’ve made it but aren’t very good? (Go on, admit it, you do think that sometimes.)

Burning desire

But back to passion. Does it play a role in business? Should it be top of mind when you’re writing copy and designing marketing campaigns? Should you put your heart and soul into everything you do? Let’s just take a quick look at the case for and against. First, for:
  • It keeps you interested and engaged.
  • That enthusiasm shines through in everything you produce.
  • It gives you an air of confidence and certainty.
  • You’re in ‘the zone’ so you’re more focused and sharper.
  • It gets your imagination going and fires your creativity.
  • You’re likely to stick at it for longer, as it’s something you hold dear.
And against?
  • Passion can cloud your judgement and make you take the wrong decision.
  • Everything is personal, from victories to defeats.
  • What you do and what you say are intimately tied up with who you are, so you’re exposing yourself to judgement, and possibly ridicule, every day.
  • It can lead you to say things that are inappropriate in a business context.
  • Passion doesn’t last forever.
From a copywriting perspective, passion has its place. I’m constantly reminding people that they’re writing for other people, so they need to connect with them. And that means putting feeling – and yes, passion – into their writing. But no too much. As with everything else, you need to exercise moderation. Too much passion in your writing will make it feel like being with somebody who inappropriately reveals lots of personal information on a first encounter. Who’s emotionally incontinent and can’t stop telling you  how they feel and what’s going through their mind. Remember, this is business communication, not an affair. And your reader is not your new best friend. So get up close and personal, and let people see that you’re enthusiastic, engaged and confident. But always make sure you control and manage the message. Everything should be thought through and planned. So passion, yes. But in a controlled, measured and… dispassionate way. Find out more: