Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther nailed his 95 arguments (“theses”) to the door of the Catholic church in Wittenberg, Germany with passion, to protest indulgences sold to individuals to “release them from punishment due to their sins.” While it was not Luther’s intent to divide the church, the bold actions of this passionate reformer marked the beginning of a movement that radically changed the course of history. While it is certainly true that Luther was a controversial historical figure, there can be little argument that he was one of the most influential people of his time. He was so committed to his beliefs that even when he was ultimately brought to trial and asked to recant, he would not. “Here I stand. I can do no other,” he said. He was convicted as a heretic and had to go into hiding, but he remained true to his beliefs to the end.


Passion* is the gift of your spirit united with the sum of all your life experiences. Those who score high in the passion trait (Keller et al, 2014):

  • Are ambitious and highly invested in the future.
  • Risk more for what is important to them.
  • Are excited about the work they do and the life they live.
  • Have the enthusiasm, motivation, energy and drive to fulfill their goals.

As with Commitment, there is a down side to unrestrained Passion:

  • You can come across as outspoken and strong willed which may shut others down. Notice when this is happening and ask for feedback.
  • Your excitement about sharing your passion with others may make you seem self-centered. Be aware of how much you are talking and consciously allow others to contribute.
  • When a passion becomes an obsession, you risk sacrificing relationships, ignoring important values and losing who you are. Entrust a colleague or friend to point this out to you if they see it happening.

If Passion is a strength for you, how can you harness it for maximum impact without scaring others away? If that isn’t the case, how would having a little more Passion in your life benefit you? How could you infuse it in a way that feels natural to you?

*Please note, we are not talking about romantic passion here. It’s important to have that in your life too, but you’ll need to look elsewhere for advice on that topic!

About Jeannie Phillips

Jeannie Phillips, PhD, ACC, is a Senior Affiliate Coach for Core Impact Coaching specializing in leadership development with over twenty years of corporate experience leading projects, people and the development and execution of strategy. She is also owner of J. R. Phillips Leadership Coaching focused on transforming technical experts into influential leaders.

Jeannie is a coach for Women for Change Coaching Community (W4C3), a nonprofit organization with a mission to make coaching accessible to all women.