It’s November in Wisconsin. The walls of the lodge living room are covered with lists, sticky notes, flipcharts, and drawings. The space smells like coffee and dry-erase markers. For four hours, nine distinct voices have been exchanging cerebral, aspirational, and impactful opinions about values – the values held dear to each individual, and the values that should be personified by the collective, Plenty.
It’s annual retreat time, and on this morning, creativity is flowing, energy is building, alignment is forming. Then, suddenly, things get sticky.
Two factions of the team disagree on whether or not a word appropriately embodies the intention and applications of one of the company’s values. One group loves the word – feels that it’s bold, moving, and drives them to action. The other group has seen the word misused, neglected, and overstated so often that it does little more than induce an eye roll. The schism is largely generational, but influenced by life experience, learning style, and personal preference. A lively debate breaks out. What does this word mean in practice? Does this word exemplify the way we want to behave? Does this word reflect our vision for the future?
Behind the word itself, the entire group agrees that the themes, emotions, and actions associated with the value are spot on. But in this instance, word choice is everything, and some just can’t get on board with a word that doesn’t personally resonate. Eventually, it becomes evident that a consensus is an improbable outcome, and that the smaller faction must disagree and commit to the majority opinion.
As a member of that smaller faction, I admit that it’ll be a challenge to commit to embrace, live, and explore that value as written. And if I’m being perfectly honest, I’m not looking forward to it. But I’m going to do it anyway – and I’m going to do it well.
Because I give a damn.
We’re confronted with conflicting ideologies, challenging projects, and unexpected changes often. Some, we roll with. Others, we push back on. Underneath it all, we must decide: how much energy am I willing to spend? It takes a lot of energy, time, and patience to embrace change sometimes. And changes at Plenty are no exception. But I believe in our work, our vision, and the change we’re trying to create – and my passion fuels my energy stores.
The next time you’re running on empty, struggling to deal with change, or confronted with a seemingly impossible challenge at your organization, or in any of your endeavors, ask yourself:
Do I care enough to share my opinions?
Do I care enough to listen to others?
Do I care enough to disagree, and commit?
Do I care enough to try something new?
Do I care enough to take initiative?
Do I care enough to risk failure?
Do I care enough to trust in my team?
If the answer is “no,” then it’s time for an honest conversation about passion. Think about the factors, emotions, and people that factored in to why you got involved, and ask yourself whether or not you’re truly passionate about your work. Did your passion get lost in the shuffle of the day-to-day? Was it ever there in the first place? Can it be reignited?
In this increasingly technological world, passion is your anchor and key differentiator. Whether you’re volunteering for the PTA, advocating for equal rights, or discussing strategy at an internal meeting, your potential for growth, success, and impact as an individual and as a collective unit is only as strong as your passion. And if that crucial piece is missing, consider an alternative arrangement.
Life’s too short not to give a damn.