The Value of Passion


By Jack Johnson, Destinations International

The first in our series of posts describing the values that today’s destination organization must represent to become an effective advocate for its community. Learn more about Destinations International’s Community Alignment Roadmap.

We define "Destination Passion" is an intense enthusiasm for our destination, our community, and its people. We are passionate about our destination. We have a strong desire to strengthen the community’s economic position and vitality and provide an opportunity for all its residents. And it is with enthusiasm and eagerness that we seek to tell the world the story of our destination, of our history, of our culture, of our community and of our people.

Of the nine industry core values that make up the community alignment roadmap, passion is probably the most personal and perhaps the most difficult to project onto an organization. But if any organization can embody passion, we believe it is a destination organization. That is because our industry is built on passion.

The word itself comes from the Latin root word, patior, which means to suffer. Today the word tends to convey the idea of an intense desire. Perhaps irrational. But always irresistible. And maybe, just maybe, if you are truly passionate, you are pushed along by your desire to the point where you are willing to endure suffering and loss for the object, the goal, the person, or the people which is the focus of your attention. Perhaps that is how it ties back to the original meaning.

According to research conducted by Tony Tjan and co-authors Richard Harrington and Tsun-Yan Hsieh (Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck: What It Takes to Be an Entrepreneur and Build a Great Business), 65% of entrepreneurs have been identified as driven by “heart.” Tjan also added that most entrepreneurs are fueled “by an unshakable sense of purpose.” The authors go on to point out that throughout all the trials and tribulations, entrepreneurs reward themselves internally by realizing that they are on a mission for the greater good. No matter how bad it gets, it is their passion that motivates them between paydays and failures and during all the times when everyone else tells them to quit.

That kind of sounds like a destination professional. It kind of sounds like us.

Think about how many of us work an insane number of hours without any overtime. Think about the long hours of research and interviews and brainstorming and word crafting merely to sum up the essence of our community in a single sentence or statement. Why would we put ourselves through this? We are driven to promote our communities as an attractive travel destination and enhancing the local public image as a dynamic place to live and work. And through destination stewardship and brand importance, we are driven to strengthen the community’s economic position and vitality which provides opportunity for all the people in the destination. At the heart of it, we are driven to either solve a problem or make something better. And that something is our community.

What drives passion? Two emotions – love and hate. Not surprisingly, love and hate are intimately linked within the human brain. Studies have identified the biological actions for the two most intense emotions.  Both love and hate use some of the same nervous circuits in the brain suggesting that while the two emotions appear to be opposites, they are related. They drive passion. They create the energy behind the value.

Remember, what we said when we began this effort to make destination organizations a shared value in each of their communities - values are where emotion and logic meet. The value of passion is driven by our love of our community and our love of travel. We would argue that it is also driven by the things we hate about our communities and travel that we seek to fix. We find ourselves constantly seeking to make what is good a little bit better and what is bad something that gets fixed. We are driven to strengthen the community’s economic position and vitality which provides opportunity for all the people in the destination. It is a very logical thing to do. But it is driven by our passion and fueled by its energy.