When passion becomes a burden ...

New York. Investment Forum 2021. A "highly decorated", internationally renowned top leader, the keynote speaker delivers his speech with passion. Afterwards, people queue up - everyone wants to talk to him. He devotes himself to each interlocutor with unbelievable devotion - visible empathy. At dinner, he "engages" me in conversation. It quickly turns to him, his health, fast-paced life, successes, and operation a few days later.

"When the pressure is too much", I summarise and - I admit - make the most extensive beginner's mistake a coach can make! Never interpret something into a statement of your client that the client himself has not said. The first hour of coaching training. His answer surprised me: "No, it's not the pressure. It's my passion that has become a burden! It is like an addiction. I just can't stop. Because of my extraordinary possibilities, I can move so much. Compared to that, my life is much too short. At the same time, working is also a productivity indicator for me. After all, I am measured by my successes," he gushes.

"What exactly do you mean by productivity indicator?" I ask cautiously at the "formal" level to first establish a level of trust and not to get in too deep at the personal level.

You hit the nail on the head.

"I feel like I can only be productive when I'm fully engaged, running multiple projects in parallel, deadlines on multiple communication channels (email, Zoom, teams, etc.) at the same time and running from one meeting or call to the next. At the end of the day, I ask myself where my passion is taking me. And what I have actually achieved."

"And that creates suffering?" I now ask a little more boldly.

"Yes!" Pause. He takes a deep breath, beaming all over his face. "Yes - you've hit the nail on the head. But it's not suffering; it's the passion that gets to me. It sounds kind of weird now, but it hits the nail on the head. And I already realise that I can't go on like this. The upcoming surgery is necessary because I have too much stress."

"What would be one thing you would like to do differently after the surgery?" I choose my questions very carefully. After all, I don't have a "coaching job".

"Do you have any ideas for me?" he asks back.

Playing darts blindfolded

"Well, I could give you a long list now of what might be helpful. It's like playing darts blindfolded then. It's about the question of what you would like to do differently and not about what ideas I have. Nevertheless, I would have one impulse for you: What do you think about giving passion a new name? Enthusiasm, for example, is a formative character trait, and I could well imagine that it plays a major role in your character profile (I'll tell him about the LINC Personality Profiler in this context). People with a high level of enthusiasm are easily enthused and actively share that enthusiasm with others."

Oh yes, that's right, absolutely. I am very quick to get enthusiastic and also pleased to share my enthusiasm with other people. But what does that do for me? Whether I say passion or enthusiasm?"

Feel - what is that?

"First of all, the word 'passion' sends a clear message to your subconscious. It creates suffering - that's how you just told it spontaneously. On the other hand, enthusiasm is neutral to begin with and can support you in starting a positive turnaround. Away from passion towards...? You have to define the 'towards' yourself. You should first feel inside yourself, find the solution and then implement it with enthusiasm."

I saw from his facial expression how my counterpart - let's say Tom R. - almost stumbled at the word "feel" and tried to follow my words. His view of his performance-oriented world had been shaped for decades by logical and rational considerations - "feeling into it" sounded like a foreign word in the concert of daily performance orientation.

In order to really find out how to succeed in discarding harmful patterns, it is necessary, among other things, to discover and become aware of one's own character traits. This is the only way to understand one's own personality, develop new patterns, and then establish them. An in-depth analysis of character traits, motives and competencies is made possible, for example, by the LINC Personality Profiler, which I use in my Excellence Programme. Admittedly, it is easier to list one's 'merits' (keyword: highly decorated) than to focus the spotlight on one's own personality. That can sometimes be uncomfortable.

Pleasure instead of a burden

"What do you think about a change of perspective?

"What would that look like?" Tom R. wants to know.

"Go on an exploration tour of yourself. Ask yourself: Independent of what I have achieved so far. What creates suffering? What gives me strength? And finally: How could the burden become a pleasure again? Which of my character traits support me in this? What really motivates me?"

If you question yourself and your actions, become aware of your character traits, motives and competencies, you will recognise new choices and come to a lot closer to self-determination. Instead of rushing through life 'remote-controlled' -, this creates the possibility of consciously following the goals one has set oneself.

By the way, the conversation with Tom R. was rudely interrupted by one of the many waiting people who wanted to talk to him that evening. The next day I already had a request for a call in my mailbox: "When do you have time, Ms Segschneider? As soon as I get back from the hospital, I would like to talk to you about my enthusiasm." A short time later, he started the one-year "Excellence Programme".