The Critical Need for Passion in the Workplace

By Kurt Mortensen

“One person with passion is better than 40 people merely interested.” — E. M. Forster

People who know where they are going are able to captivate others because they are passionate and therefore charismatic. You can tell when you meet them or when they enter a room. Others are drawn to them because, deep down, people want to be passionate about something.

When others see that passion in your eyes, you become more charismatic. They sense that you can help them and improve their lives. This does not guarantee that everyone will like you, but others will respect you for your conviction and your passion.

Passion is critical to influencing others and transmitting charisma. Charismatic people radiate heartfelt passion. When your audience can sense your passion and sincere conviction for your cause, they will jump on board emotionally.

We all love people who are excited and filled with believable passion for their subject. When you have passion for something, you want to let everyone know about it. You want to convert as many people to your cause as possible. Even when someone disagrees with you, you are able to openly listen to their opinions, feedback, and point of view while maintaining your composure and conviction.

Passion is very contagious. When you transfer your passion, the people around you start to absorb your energy. They begin to perform better. Being on the job no longer seems like work. They become more proactive, more willing to work as a team, and more optimistic. When you have tapped into your passion, you become more determined, and that determination strengthens your persistence.

A word of caution: Even when you are passionate, do not forego learning the skills you need to be successful. Passion is a critical piece of the charisma pie, but you still need the other pieces of the pie to radiate powerful long-term charisma.

Passion always includes enthusiasm, but you can be enthusiastic without having passion. Enthusiasm is a strong excitement or feeling on behalf of a cause. You have probably seen charismatic people who give off enthusiasm. It is in their faces and their demeanor—they are undeniably motivated—and it creates sparks of curiosity. Enthusiasm not only reduces worry and fear, but it also creates confidence, compassion, and a synchronization between you and your audience.

Most people have trouble tapping into their true passion. Many confuse hype, extra caffeine, or excitement with passion.

Passion is not running around and bouncing up and down like a new puppy. True passion radiates and captivates and does not need to be forced. When your audience feels forced or unrealistic hype on your part, they will be repelled. You will be seen as fake, and that perception will decrease your ability to influence.

Tap into your true passion, and it will influence others to come around to your point of view. Just because you are excited does not mean you radiate passion. Make sure you are radiating true passion, not false enthusiasm or hype.

Those with charisma increase enthusiasm by gaining insight and knowledge about their subject. They have developed a true belief and conviction in what they do. Believe in yourself and in your message, radiate enthusiasm in all that you do. On the flip side, fake enthusiasm, unrealistic hype, and false energy destroy charisma. You can enhance your charisma by doing the following:

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  • Always maintain your credibility.
  • Be sincere in all your interactions.
  • Always be connecting with others.
  • Always be authentic.
  • Maintain constant confidence.

John Wooden is a great example of passion. Everyone around him, especially his players, felt his passion and was influenced by it. He was UCLA’s basketball coach during the team’s greatest era. He recruited raw talent, demanded they practice hard, and provided passion, enthusiasm, and inspiration.

His teams won 665 games in 27 seasons and 10 NCAA titles during his last 12 seasons. His teams hold the all-time record of winning 88 games in a row and had an incredible four perfect seasons.

He never made more than $35,000 a year, but his passion and impact on the fans and on his players will last a lifetime. He loved what he was doing and proved that passion is a critical element of success.

Find your passion. Tapping into your passion is like sculpting. You are getting a little closer each time you take a chip off the raw stone.

Sometimes we get closer to our passion by finding things we don’t want to do. Start experimenting with different tasks and topics, and get to know other people. You don’t know whether you like a certain food unless you are willing to take a bite.

Read more, join more clubs, and spend more time on personal development in the areas that might be worthy of your passion. You cannot be passionate about something if you don’t know anything about it. In fact, educating yourself about a topic is a great way to increase your passion.

Here is the question I want you to think about today: When it comes to what you are doing with your life, are you singing the song and really feeling it, or are you just singing the words — going through the motions? Think about your answer.

Excerpted from The Laws of Charisma: How to Captivate, Inspire, and Influence for Maximum Success by Kurt Morternsen. Copyright © 2011 Kurt Morternsen. Published by AMACOM Books, a division of American Management Association, New York, NY. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Kurt W. Mortensen is one of America’s leading authorities on persuasion, motivation and influence. A highly sought after consultant, trainer, seminar leader and speaker, he is the author of "Maximum Influence" and "Persuasion IQ." Contact him through his website at