* My guest post today comes from Dwane Lay of the Lean HR blog. Thank you Dwane for sharing your example of how passion for work, and life, impact the end product. Thank you also for inviting me to participate in the Entre event.
Passion inspires performance.
It’s one of Newton’s laws of physics, I think. And there is nothing as inspiring as seeing it in action. I recently had the opportunity to dine with John Perkins and the Entre team at an underground event. What’s an underground event? I’ll let John explain…
Late in the summer of 2008, we quietly conducted monthly, five-course dinners in eclectic settings (the location is kept secret until the day of the dinner) with room for long, communal tables (you’re about to share something profound with a complete stranger). This is how we started. This is our baby. Underground diners get nostalgic over this. This is unlike anything you’ve experienced. Eyebrows raised, whispers turned to buzz, and Entre Underground became a local sensation. Local turned national via media coverage, and in the years since, Entre has added to its repertoire. We still run clandestine, but we also offer a full range of culinary services, from private dinners to weddings.
Each month the team hosts a dinner, the menu and location kept secret until that morning. The events are limited seating and are packed. The venues are eclectic (St. Louis Contemporary Art Museum or Michael’s Motorcycles, for instance.) The food is outstanding. It is everything you could want in a night out. But the really interesting part, I think, comes after dinner.
At the end of the evening, the entire crew comes out and introduces themselves, from chef to dishwasher. They are tired, having worked all day to put on a great event, but bask in the glow of satisfied customers, many of whom they know by name. And, between sips of PBR, they tell their stories. They are nomadic chefs, they are business owners, they are theology students, musicians, receptionists, and even former attendees. They have day jobs to work, families to care for, lives to lead and texts to study, but they gather each month for these events. And they do it because they love to. They love to cook, they love to serve, and most of all they love being part of the event. Their passion is as important to the experience as the food.
Passion inspires performance.
When you work on something that matters to you, you perform better. That’s the root of all the “employee engagement” nonsense that has permeated the workplace in recent years. We take surveys, track scores and create task force projects to increase scores, all in the name of some mythical engagement payback. What’s missing, though, is that engagement, and therefore performance, is driven by passion. Not casual Friday, not coffee mugs, and not cupcakes. Passion. And just like any other form of energy, passion cannot be created or destroyed. Only transferred. Your job as a leader is to find that passion and learn to transfer it around.
It starts, though, with you. If you don’t have passion for what you do, it will show. And if you don’t have passion, you cannot transfer it to someone else. Engagement starts with you. So put down your survey results, set aside your project list and think about yourself. Think about your passion. Then work to transfer it to someone else. That’s how passion works. And that’s how you use it to drive performance.