Purpose, Passion and Pleasure are the secret to sustainable engagement

by Didier Marlier on Friday December 14th, 2012

For my recent TED-X Beau-Soleil speech, I chose to talk about sustained motivation. As I was addressing students, whose whole life of studies will be evaluated over a period of two weeks, I chose to interview some samba Masters and understand how they managed to remain engaged a whole year long in order to bring their school to the top, year after year.

Three themes consistently came up:

  • Purpose: This is the true meaning of samba to me
  • Passion: This why I dedicate all of my free time to it
  • Pleasure: This is why I like it

There is here a strong relevance to us business leaders as well on how we engage other and, far more important, how do we keeo purselves engaged.

  • The sense of purpose, the pride, the Raison d’Être or the “Deep Intent” are probably easier to find when working for a NGO than for a bank (these days), insurance company or weapon manufacturer… However the need is the same: sustainable engagement depends first and foremost from the sense of purpose, the Meaning that people attribute to their work. What is the Ideal? What is the Dream? How do I contribute to making this World a better place? Are important questions to be answered if we want our people to bring their best at work. A banker was telling me a sad joke the other day: “It is the first day at school and the teacher asks the students what is their father’s job… Everything runs as usual until one of the kids says: “My father is a strip-teaser”… During the break the professor goes and talks to the child who replies: “My Dad is not a strip teaser but this is all I found to hide his real profession: Banker”… Childish joke but it brings forward a great question: What would my child be proud about me doing the work I do?
  • The Passion is different to the Purpose: I may have a hobby, practice a sport which are my Passion, without those to necessarily correspond to a higher Purpose. But the Purpose I hold translates into a boring or painful life, I may not keep that Purpose for long unless I am someone of exception, ready to sacrifice my life for it. So I need as a professional but also as a leader, to ensure that my team is passionate about what they do. That they “live” their work more than between 08.00 and 12.00, 14.00 and 18.00…
  • The pleasure is a crucial component too: Do people have fun with the work they do or do they desperately await Friday night for “real life” to start???

I hope you will enjoy this short TED speech, illustrated by three clips.

Have a great week

Didier

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