‘There I am, giving out leaflets on London Bridge and Liverpool Street stations for an evening event I’m running. I’m here for several morning and evening rush hours slap bang in the middle of London’s commercial and organisational mayhem.
And… I’m gobsmacked! It’s like a DVD of George Orwell’s “1984” is playing out before my eyes. Marching, foot pounding, drearily rushing towards me are hordes of men and women with glazed over eyes lost in their “coming to work” or “going home” trances. Seemingly brain washed grey figures who ignoringly brush past my outstretched leaflet hand. I don’t exist.
As if an oasis in this barren relentless surge, an occasional person smiles and takes my leaflet. And, on a very rare occasion, some one stops to explore what I’m offering and even ask questions.
These were pivotal moments of learning for me. They greatly enhanced my understanding that, without Purpose, Passion and Power, people, whoever they are and whatever their status, are “living dead”… at work as well as in the rest of their life.
They were robots living out stultifying boredom, often experienced as stress, fed up ness, or it’s time for a holiday. Living out the "get up – survive – go to bed" syndrome.
Their faces were without colour or animation, as if their heads had been severed from their body sensations and emotional feelings. Most apparent was their total and undeniable lack of passion.
Passion! Am I crazy? What has PASSION got to do with them… or you and your role as an Executive PA? Everything, but everything!
Yet passion has had bad press historically. The term is associated with the suffering of Christ before the last supper and then on the cross. The word itself derives from the Latin "patior", meaning to suffer or endure. For sure, "suffering" and "enduring" seemed to be those people’s keynotes as they marched to or from their workplace.
AND THAT’S NOT PASSION!
A million miles away from the previous meaning is another and steamier definition for passion. For, in Victorian England, passion was thought "improper" in respectable women… and highly desirable in women who were not!
AND THAT’S NOT PASSION!
It’s also nonsense that passion is often associated with "negative" emotions which aren’t negative at all, just perceived as such. Passion is allied with any feeling from anger to lust and from hatred to any "dark" emotion assumed alien to your nature or usual behaviour. Crazy!
AND THAT’S NOT PASSION!
So… what is?
Passion is your essential life energy, your "ooomph" and your get up and go. It’s the verve which makes the difference between being a run of the mill, or even good, Executive PA or one with sparkle and pizzazz.
So, what’s sparkle and pizzazz and how do they benefit your role? I guarantee they bring the kind of engagement and energetic enthusiasm which gets you noticed, valued, promoted and juicy career opportunities.
Problem is, most likely, that no one taught you as a child how to channel your passion; your powerhouse of energy, your birth right and heritage. The very vitality which can fire your engagement, focus and en joy ment at work… as well as in the rest of your life.
Unless you were lucky, in one way or another, you would have probably been taught to sit on your passion, to squash it as something not quite acceptable. Shoosh! Be quiet! Now is not the time or place!
Some of you, like me, were even taught to murder your passion. Conditioned to deny your self for the sake of being "well behaved", not asking "awkward" questions, not choosing the incorrect education path (according to whom?) or wrong job/career trajectory (ditto)… blah blah blah blah blah blah!
The good news is there is absolutely no way you could have really killed off your passion. It just feels that way. In order to protect its integrity, you probably hid it so well that you’ve forgotten where you put it. The even better news is that your passion is always, but always, just a hair’s breadth away!
You want proof? Here it is…
Think about an aspect of your role which you know needs improving. Be honest with yourself because, if you know it, others will have noticed you under performing too. So, be courageous in the service of your personal and professional development.
Once you’ve identified an area, run through in your mind’s eye how you normally perform while delivering it. And, most importantly, run through how you feel while you’re delivering… and how other people react or respond to you. When you’ve done, clap your hands loudly or shake your body vigorously to disidentify from all these thoughts and feelings. We’re moving on!
Now remember a time way back in your childhood when you could still be and were 100% and gloriously passionate… and OK to be so. A time when you were so engrossed and enthusiastic about what you were doing, or involved with, that time itself seemed to stop.
Take the first memory you get without censoring or judging. Use your imagination to see or sense how you look, how you sound and how you feel being passionate. Next, "step into" passionate you in your imagination and fully relive your experience now. Enjoy every second!
When you’re ready, let the memory fade, knowing, now that you’ve found it, you can reconnect with your remembering any time you like. And come back into the present moment bringing those delicious feelings with you. Did you know it was that easy to re connect with natural and powerfully passionate you?
Next, turn back to that aspect of your role in which you were previously under performing? See yourself in your mind’s eye delivering that aspect, only this time you are absolutely energised by your passion. See how your delivery is totally fired by engagement and enthusiasm.
Notice how you look, sound and feel this time. Observe how you are and what you do is so different now and executed oh so easily and elegantly. Finally, take a moment to notice how people respond warmly, positively and creatively to passionate you.
Capture these moments by taking a mental snapshot of how excellently you’re delivering and how your colleagues, team and boss respond more than usually positive to you now. Click that camera shutter to celebrate the exponential difference between how you used to be and how you are now with that aspect of your role.
A “high 5”, air punch or “wahooooo” is most definitely encouraged at this moment… even if you are British! If you were conditioned into typical "stiff upper lip" attitudes, now is absolutely the right time to discover how your passion warms and nourishes you… and others.
So, that’s what passion can do for in an area where you were once under delivering. Now, just imagine how your overall performance, effectiveness and influence would be ferociously enhanced with passionate you in the driving seat!
This 21st century of ours needs leaders and leadership unafraid to bring vitality and genuineness into the workplace. Did I hear a shocked, “Who me???” Yes… YOU!
By modelling passion and "realness" through your Executive PA role, you’re offering a gift to your colleagues and your organisation. The gift of how work and the work place can be if everyone was more of who they really are instead of who they were trained to be.
So, I’m calling you to stand in your own greatness; to lead by example through your passion, through your engagement and enthusiasm. And to be even more of the exceptional Executive PA that you really are and can be!