By Chuck Gillespie, executive director, Wellness Council of Indiana


At what point in your corporation’s maturity life cycle do you build a process improvement strategy around operational efficiencies with limited creative say in the outcome? My answer would be when I’m ready to sell the company or when I want status quo to be the norm and don’t want to have to train employees anymore.

Passionate people are great to be around and they are great to have in your workplace – especially if you believe in the same principles and ideals. Passion is when you put more energy into something than is required to do it. It’s more than just enthusiasm or excitement; passion is ambition that’s materialized into action by putting as much heart, mind, body and soul into something as is possible.

Passion is what drives people to make positive changes in the world. Don’t confuse this with obsession. Many times, these definitions get linked; however, passion is persuasive and obsession is controlling. Ironically, Steve Jobs’ great quote, “People with passion can change the world,” was probably how Jobs saw himself. But he was beyond passionate – he was obsessed. His Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak, is passionate. I would suggest that’s why Apple has become the company it is today: a lot of passion and one person’s obsession.

So how do you hire and then manage passionate people? The answer might be counterintuitive. Passionate people need space, but also need direction. Take away their ability to brainstorm, offer their opinion, develop the plan, implement the plan and train others to deliver, and you will de-motivate them. Coaching them to seek ways to educate others to “get there” – and doing it at a pace that permits those not on board to fully comprehend – is by far the hardest thing to help passionate people understand. They are “already there” and probably three steps ahead of that.

Think about what your work environment can handle and if high-passion people are being obstructed or directed toward the answer to a greater good. Teach them patience, but guide them in continuing to drive forward on the plan. Help them communicate their “why” in a way that others can understand and interpret. Train them to be influential and provide actions rather than just ranting about why “others don’t get it.” Passion drives innovation and behavioral change. Let them drive the idea, but direct them on how it will work within the organizational structure.

Passion is a key driver to the success of the Wellness Council and it must be a driver to influence the success of your internal program. Changing people’s lives requires a lot of passion … and maybe a little obsession.