David recently returned from a 10-day silent meditation retreat. Although the silence was maintained between participants, each night there was a discourse, or presentation, by a teacher. One of the themes that recurred throughout was that of the human tendency toward craving.

We have spent some time considering the question: what is the difference between craving for an outcome, as a Creator, and tapping passion for an outcome?

When we crave an outcome our emotional energy is attached to it and, if what we want is not fulfilled, we will experience disappointment, loss – even suffering.  Also, if the outcome we are focused on does not come to fruition in a timely manner, we may give up on it.

Passion, on the other hand, is the emotional energy that naturally arises when we focus on outcomes that have heart and meaning for us. There is a quality of love for the possibility of the outcome and, therefore, we often have a greater capacity to hold the Dynamic Tension.

Passion fuels persistence and we take multiple Baby Steps – sometimes forward and sometimes experiencing setbacks – in the journey toward the outcome.

Many years ago, David heard an interview with Peter Senge, a well-known consultant and advocate for “learning organizations,” in which he told a story that illustrates the distinction between craving and passion.

The story was about an American CEO and a Japanese CEO having a conversation over dinner. At one point the American executive shared that his company had set a goal of winning the Malcom Baldrige Quality Award within three years. (The Baldrige Award is a very prestigious recognition of a company’s commitment to total quality management and continuous improvement).

The Japanese executive expressed surprise at the American’s declaration. He responded that, in his company, they would never think of going after winning the Deming Prize (the Japanese equivalent and forerunner to the Baldrige Award). Instead, he went on to explain, the company was so committed to total quality and continuous improvement, if they were doing the right things (i.e. taking the appropriate Baby Steps) then, maybe someday the Deming Prize would come to them.

The American executive, as the story is told, was craving the recognition that the award would bring his company. If they did not achieve the outcome, given all the hard work, process improvements and changes it would take, there would be deep disappointment and “suffering” in failing to meet the goal.

The Japanese executive, on the other hand, was focused on the on-going outcome of total quality management and continuous improvement from an “inner state” of passion and commitment, regardless of whether or not they achieved the prize.

As a Creator, take a step back and ask yourself the question: “Are the outcomes I want to create coming from an inner state of craving or passion?”

Craving-or-Passion