Early in my career, I learnt that it helped to show a bit of “character” – to react with passion to what you felt strongly about and to name out loud the thoughts and emotions that we all have but no one wants to mention. I felt confident it won me supporters, people knowing where I stood, and finding me lively and dynamic to work with.
Later on, it got me into some deep water for sure – sticky moments when I spoke out against the hierarchy, stood up for someone else, or held on fiercely to a principle . All the while I kept to the belief that I had the moral high ground, and my ego, of course, fed this. Increasingly however, I suspected pride and prejudice had also crept in by the back door.
Working with a client recently, they themselves were questioning their own similar beliefs and behaviours. Not whether or not to show courage to stand up for our values and to show our passionate natures, but whether, before acting, we should better examine why we do so, and better choose when and how?
Our passion is closely related to our identity which is why the ego clings to it and it’s so hard to view objectively. When a value, or deeply held belief, is threatened, our emotion is evoked. Our emotion and passion normally serve us well to give us courage to fight, to show our boundaries, define our identity and are behind many of the good and worthy movements in the world. But passion and emotion are also behind many wars, conflicts, lost opportunities and undiscovered possibilities.
When we slip into the fire of emotion and passion “because this is me” "because you don’t understand” or "because I know better”, we are on a dangerous slope of self-delusion and separation from the world. Better to switch on our own pause button and own our passion by asking “This really bothers me because…", "what choices do I have here?", "What is this really about?"