Recently I was talking to a colleague about the work I do and she stated that she likes my “passion”. Often people have said that to me and I wonder what they really mean, what are they trying to say to me? Yes I am passionate about what I do and the clients I work with and I am passionate about Social Work and how we work as Social Workers. But sometimes the word “passion” is used as if it is something we need to be wary of.
Does it mean though if you are “passionate” you are a little unhinged that perhaps you are unable to think clearly and that you are more likely to behave in unacceptable ways. Perhaps a “passionate” person is unable to think clearly and are irrational in their decision making. Perhaps a “passionate” person is unrealistic and a little extreme. Be being “passionate” one is viewed as being part of the lunatic fringe and therefore one needs to be wary of them.
There are other descriptions that could be used which perhaps may be more helpful. People could reflect on what they like about the way you work, the dedication you display and the values you hold. Is the use of the work “passionate” demonstrating an inability to describe what they like about you or is it an underhanded way of having a go at the work you do?
I have decided that the next time someone describes me as “passionate” or they like my “passion” I will say, “I am not sure what you mean by ‘passion’ could you tell me more?” I think I would like people to tell me that I am caring or understanding or that I am dedicated to my clients or I work towards the best outcome for my clients.
To me “passion” means energy and courage. I would like people to reflect on the effort I put into the work I do and the way I go about it. I would like to ask them if they feel passion for what they do? Perhaps we don’t reflect on where “passion” sits in our lives or what we feel passionate about. During my discussion with this person the other day she was telling me how difficult it is for her to deal with certain client issues. I was left wondering what she felt passionate about.
I have noticed that the more clinical people are about their work the less passionate they appear. We can become locked into ways of working which are about a prescribed view of the world and out work which lacks energy and insight. A passionate person is someone who is driven by their beliefs and wants to implement change at a range of different levels. Is prepared to take the battle for social justice and human rights into an array of different areas. I believe a passionate person is someone who is creative and drives the agenda rather than sitting back hoping that someone else will pick up the issue and run with it. I person who lacks passion is more likely to refer a client on rather than follow through on the issue or who feels inadequate in certain areas and is not prepared to learn new ways of working.
In Social Work the key to developing the way we work is “reflective practice”. Through these reflections we need to discover new ways of meeting the client’s needs. We need to heighten our awareness and in doing so our passion. We need to understand the values that drive us and the reason why Social Work is different and what we can offer which is special.
From now on I am going to celebrate my passion and seek clarification who use it in a thoughtless and unhelpful way.