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June 15, 2006

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I help people who are making career transitions and it's awfully hard to convince a newly-fired, middle-aged manager she/he needs to show "passion." These folks are passionate, alright: angry, frustrated, and feeling abused by the previous employer. It's hard to turn that into something positive.

And having managed folks in corporate America, sometimes you just want someone who can do the job without getting all het up over things. Don't argue with me about your "better way," just do the darn job!

You've put your finger on something important here. "Passion" is another overworked business word that should be banned like "Solutions" and "Empowerment".

I feel another poem coming on: WB Yeats's The Second Coming, which includes the immortal lines:

"The best lack all convictions, while the worst // Are full of passionate intensity."

I think we live in a world where novelty passes for innovation and a slogan passes for reality.

How timely! Just this past week, I've been working with a client on its vision for 2012. I purposely avoided the word "passion" hoping it will be out of favor in six years. My preference is next year.) But it worked its way in because today everyone is committed to having passion for the consumer.

Matthew,

I agree with you. Way over used.

I doubly agree on the "solutions" overuse.

I recently had a client I was doing copy writing work for and I could not convince him with all my strenuous exertion to use any other tagline than "solutions for water district management."

Not only does it lead with a cliche, but no one will know what it means.

Yelch.

Not my product. And I got paid. So as long as he's happy, I know I tried.

I agree that the corporate rage over "passion" in the workplace is a bit much, but what about in your professionals? Don't you want your lawyer to be passionate about your case, especially when presenting it to the jury or the court? After all, you want counsel to exude belief in the righteousness of your cause. How about your doctor? I'd hate the idea of my doctor seeing me as part of the "daily grind."

Point taken, Charles, but lawyers and doctors aren't contributing to the verbal smog here. Besides, for them, as for everyone else, Eliza Doolittle's advice still holds: "If you're on fire, show me!"

I had a laugh out loud moment just now, when our marketing team was asked for our opinion of words to sum up the company we work for. The choices are Passion and Liberating. I really hope I can steer them away from the P word...

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