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In the workplace, motivation is essential for achieving goals and maintaining high levels of performance. But, where does our motivation come from? Passion is a powerful motivator that drives all of us to pursue our goals with enthusiasm and dedication. Ultimately, this pursuit can be where we get our satisfaction and fulfilment from. However, passion can take different forms: obsessive passion, and harmonious passion. Understanding the distinctions between obsessive and harmonious passion is crucial for leaders, especially if they want to create a productive environment for themselves and their colleagues that fosters healthy and sustainable motivation.


What is Obsessive Passion? 

Obsessive passion refers to an internalisation where an individual’s motivation for a particular activity or goal stems from deliberate or imposed engagement, creating an internal pressure to undertake a given activity. This type of passion is often characterized by a narrow focus on the goal and can quickly become uncontrollable or overwhelming. With obsessive passion, people may become preoccupied with achieving an activity or goal at all costs, sacrificing their health, wellbeing, or even relationships and connections. Sometimes they may feel a strong sense of urgency to succeed and be driven by the fear of failure.

While obsessive passion can lead to high levels of productivity in the short term, it can also have negative consequences in the long run. Because of the sacrifices made, people may experience burnout, stress, and anxiety as they strive to achieve their goals. Their workplace might have to absorb costs from their absenteeism, and their personal lives may suffer as a result too.


What is Harmonious Passion? 

In contrast, harmonious passion is a more balanced and positive form of passion that involves pursuing an activity or goal because it might be meaningful or enjoyable. People with harmonious passion apply themselves autonomously which gives them control over their pursuits. Their passion might even be integrated into their identity. Harmonious passion promotes healthy adaptation, allowing people to experience a sense of flow while engaging in their activity and feel a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.

Harmonious passion is associated with a range of positive outcomes, both in the workplace and in personal life. Individuals with harmonious passion are more likely to experience greater creativity, productivity, and innovation in their work. They are also more likely to experience positive emotions and have better physical and mental health.

team with harmonious passion working closely together


How can Leaders use Harmonious Passion Effectively in the Workplace? 

As leaders, fostering harmonious passion among team members can create a positive work environment that drives performance and innovation. Here are some strategies that leaders can use to encourage harmonious passion in the workplace for themselves and team members:

Enable autonomy:
Providing team members with autonomy in their work can help to foster harmonious passion. This involves giving them the freedom to complete activities and pursue goals in a way that suits them. Leaders can also provide colleagues them with the resources and support they need to achieve them. This Harvard Business Review article explains further, and also highlights the difference between autonomy and flexibility.

Provide meaningful work:
Creating a sense of purpose in work is another way to foster harmonious passion. Team members are more likely to feel passionate, motivated, and connected with their team when they appreciate the meaning behind what they are doing. This is especially true when their work aligns with their values and interests.

Recognize achievements:
Celebrating the achievements of team members can help to foster a sense of pride and accomplishment, which can lead to harmonious passion. Leaders can recognize achievements through public recognition, rewards, or simply acknowledging their efforts and contributions on a personal level.

Facilitate collaboration:
Collaboration and teamwork can help to foster harmonious passion by providing team members with opportunities to learn from each other, share ideas, and work towards common goals. Leaders can create a collaborative work environment by encouraging open communication, providing opportunities for team building, and promoting a culture of trust and respect.


Passion is a powerful motivator that can drive individuals to achieve their goals and maintain high levels of performance in the workplace. However, understanding the distinctions between obsessive and harmonious passion is crucial for leaders to create a positive work environment that fosters positive motivation. If you think that you or your colleagues might benefit from identifying and empowering your harmonious passions, get into contact with our friendly team today!

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