Smile Like You Mean It (Thoughts on Passion)

Above: England’s finest celebrating a goal. Picture via hout7.

This has been sparked by a few conversations I’ve been having; it’s a response of sorts, so bear with me.

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I talk a lot. Sometimes, this can be misinterpreted as being a wee bit arrogant, or not listening properly. I wish I could stop talking so much, but it’s bloody difficult (and I hope I’m neither arrogant nor a bad listener).

Anyway, I was thinking about this a bit more – why do I talk so much? Why do some people clam up in conversations?

When it comes to the latter, I don’t think it’s down to a lack of passion, that’s for certain – I think it’s a comfort issue; how willing you are to open yourself up to people you don’t know very well/are intimidated by, for example. Pretty obvious stuff.

But why should I talk so much? Surely a core planning trait is the ability to be stoic and quiet, only interjecting when it’s absolutely necessary? Well….I’ve certainly met planners like that, and that’s no bad thing – I wish I possessed as much clarity and brevity as they do, but I think (hope) it’ll come in time.

What gives me hope about my chatty nature are bloggers (I’m thinking of a few) that I know like to express an opinion or two. Not the archetypal planning person (certainly not what the IPA would have you believe), if you look below:

Yes, it makes me scratch my head as well. I have a social life, honestly…and I’m not sure I have a ‘planet sized brain’ either.

The stereotype is frankly bollocks; misappropriating the myth of the planner, which is no more right than propagating the slicker than owl shit suit or the grumpy genius creative. Just wrongheaded.

Anyway, back to the point I was making. Such character assessments are wrong. But what should be important (something I look for in people I meet) is being passionate about what you like, whether it’s being an ad bod like myself, or a toy maker or whatever. I enjoy working in advertising, so I write about it. If you are quiet but are desperately passionate about kite-flying or taxidermy, that’s also great.

Enjoying your job and being passionate about it, whether being quiet or talkative, is crucial for me. It’s why I didn’t pursue Law as a career.

Whether or not I talk too much, or fit into a planner stereotype just doesn’t matter. Now, whether I care about the work I undertake and what I’m doing does.

A friend of mine once said that ‘you can’t just be passionate anymore’ when speaking about how to get into advertising, and he’s right. But it still remains the most important trait. Passion for the business and for effective work should be at the forefront of everyone in the agency. Not just because you want associated fame from getting an ad on the telly (though that is nice).

It’s funny, doing a little bit of research into what I like, and what drives me reveals it even more startlingly. My favourite music artists are all ballsy, passionate people who want to create though provoking tunes, whether they be big beats or acoustic, sensitive ballads.

The same is true for writers; I admire John Milton and George Orwell above all because they care, and are deeply, deeply passionate about what they write, and it really resonates with me.

It must be stressed that being passionate without reason is definitely barking up the wrong tree (akin to talking too much without a real point). But the two shouldn’t be mutually exclusive in the first place – if you are passionate about something, you’ll probably know a lot about it, or want to learn, which is the most important thing.

And yes – passion can overspill into what appears to be arrogance or anger. But I don’t think it’s either – it’s wanting to do a good job, wanting to make the work the best it can be and above all, caring about things.

NB: Though I’m no Man United fan (God no), I love watching Wayne Rooney play football. Someone who cares so much and wants to win, coupled with that amount of skill, is a joy to watch. I only wish Mamady Sidibe was like that.

I’m also planning to do another Cucumber Sandwiches Podcast, this time featuring some of my favourite passionate tunes.