10 July 2010

Just How Passionate Should You Be?

At 211 degrees Fahrenheit, water is very hot. At 212 degrees, it boils.

Just one degree can make all the difference.

When water boils, you get steam. And with steam, you can power a train.

That's why business and branding gurus will have you know, 212 degrees Fahrenheit is the place to be. It's where inspiration ignites, and ideas combust spontaneously. It's where your passion comes alive for all to see.

Fahrenheit 212 is making the most of this sweet spot. Part consulting firm, part product lab, part ad agency, the New York-based company is scorching the landscape with the buzz generated by its business model, stellar client list, and yes, the work.

But let me be provocative, and offer this adjunct proposition: that on a personal level, Fahrenheit 211 is the place to be.

Yes, at 212, you get steam. And sure, you can power a train. But what happens is, your assets get vaporized in the process. You get hot air -- but nothing left for the long-term.

Business today is about passion. You'll need it if you hope to ignite your best self. You'll languish if you're lukewarm.

I'm passionate about what I do. And I believe my work for my clients is the better for it. But yesterday I learned that passion has a tipping point. A no-fly zone that, if indulged, can end in a nosedive off a cliff.

Yesterday I forgot that beyond people judgement and process judgement, I need to exercise engagement judgement: the deft skill of knowing who to engage, when to engage, and how best to go about it, in order to get a win-win result.

Yesterday, I let my passion for my work run ahead of my regard for people. And as a result, moved from 211 degrees to 212 and probably more.

That's the difference one degree can make. That's the difference between being on the leading edge of your craft ... and the bleeding edge.

Fahrenheit 211 is the place to be. The best players are those who can turn up the heat -- without getting burnt.

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