Great At Work

Purpose vs Passion

Morten Hansen wrote a book title Great At Work: How Top Performers Work Less and Achieve More. One of Morten’s areas of study was the difference between purpose and passion. Purpose asks what you can contribute to others. Passion is the pursuit of things that excite you.

Morten’s team collected data on work place engagement as self-reported by individuals and confirmed by managers. As expected, those who report high passion and high purpose were in the 80th percentile of their team. On the flip-side, those who report low passion and low purpose rank in the bottom 10 percent. So far, this resonates with conventional wisdom.

Next, the researchers focused on those with high passion but low purpose. How much impact does passion deliver for a team member, even when their sense of purpose was low? This group was close to the low passion, low purpose group. High passion, low purpose individual rank in the bottom 20th percent.

Which brings us to the high purpose, low passion individual. What is the impact of purpose on their contribution? It is remarkable. High purpose, low passion team members rank in the 64th percentile of their team.

The research confirms purpose overshadows passion like a giant oak tree. If we identify team members that embody both, the probability of success is high. If we must choose between an individual with a sense of purpose and a sense of passion, purpose delivers a significantly higher value.

Intrigued? Here is an interview on career advise from Morten Hansen