Passion at work

Pursue the passion at workI just got an email from Brett Farmiloe, the founder of Pursue the Passion, who are up to something tremendously cool.

This Summer, Brett and two recent college grads are doing a “14,000 mile, 3 month journey around the US to interview 200 people about the passion that propels them in their profession”.

I really look forward to seeing what comes out of this! You can see their travel schedule, read the blog and if you know anyone who’s passionate about work (or if you yourself are) you should definitely tell Brett about it.

I value passion very highly at work myself. Here’s how it works for me:

  1. I could never work on something I’m not passionate about. If a task or a project leaves me cold, no amount of money, coercion or feeling of duty can make me work on it.
  2. What’s more, I don’t work well with people who are not passionate. If a person is not enthusiastic and passionate about a project, I find it hard to trust them, because I don’t know what makes them tick.
  3. In my experience, passionate people get more work done. Waaaaaay more. It’s not even close.
  4. Passionate people are much more fun to work with. Compared to people who treat work as “just a job”, passionate people are a blast!

What about you? Are you passionate about your work? Are the people you work with? Does passion matter to you? Write a comment, I’d really like to know :o)

18 thoughts on “Passion at work”

  1. I think I’m passionate about my work. A lot of people don’t understand how I possibly could be, because I do software quality assurance. I love it, though, because playing with software is fun, putting myself in the shoes of the audience for the software and making sure it works for them is creative, troubleshooting the crazy bugs I find is often very technical, and being in quality means I have a direct effect (well, it depends which company I’m working for) on the product.

    However, I’ve pretty much only gotten in trouble for being passionate. My passion has led me to not always unquestioningly do whatever my boss or the company owner tells me. Sometimes, I feel it is my job to point out the risks – especially the risks to quality – that the boss’ orders have. Usually I have alternate ideas on how to mitigate these risks and still accomplish the goal of the boss’ idea. I pick my battles. I don’t always contradict everything. When something is really important to me though, I’m not afraid to broach the subject – even if my boss is the richest most important man in the world – I figure he’d want to know.

    Companies have considered me disloyal (questioning the boss is disloyal and overrides the loyalty of caring about quality) or just a pain in the butt for actually enjoying what I do and having my own integrity and standards (which are usually higher than the company’s).

    I even had one manager sit me down and explain to me that I cared too much about my job, and that he worried about me because of that. He advised me to stop caring, to become detached, and to treat it just as a job. He explained that is the only way he can do what he is told without question and get through the day without emotion and therefore stay employed as long as he had.

    I felt sorry for him, did not take his advice, and left that job. I realized that my job description was not to be an advocate for the quality of the product which is what I’m passionate about, my job description was to do whatever I was told by whoever had more power than me.

    Sadly, I think American companies, at least in my experience, don’t like passion – at least passion for the work. I think they like people who are passionate about keeping the job, because it is easy to dangle the carrots of bonuses and promotions and job stability in return for people doing whatever they are told to do. For people who are passionate about the actual work, the job is a point contained within the circle of their passion. As soon as the job stops feeding their passion for the work, they try to change things so that the job feels fun again, and this is often seen as disloyalty or not fitting in or being a troublemaker. It’s weird though, because all these companies were founded on one or two people’s passion for an idea. Somehow, though, over time those people become complacent instead of passionate or think that they are the only ones who should have the passion. I don’t understand it …

  2. Very interesting to examine the international perspective of the American workforce. We are not passionate about what we do for work. In fact, HALF of the workforce is not satisfied with their job! That’s why we are conducting this Pursue the Passion tour. To raise awareness of the issue, to inspire, and to provide guidance that will help people to follow something they love doing.

    As for your comment about how a company was founded on passion, and then lost it along the way, this short four minute film (nomated for an Academy Award) describes it perfectly.

  3. I think KimRu hit the nail on the head…most employers (in the U.S. anyway) don’t want the majority of the employee population “thinking”. Just do what I tell you to do, when I tell you to do it and you just might get a little something extra. True passion, innovation and thinking is generally reserved for the “few” elite, hand-picked workers (and I don’t mean elite as in the smartest). And they tend to exhibit none of the qualities mentioned!!!

    Why is this? I believe it is the age-old concept of power and control. It has nothing to do with true leadership and vision.

    Unfortunately, for those of us who are truly passionate about our work, these notions will eventually lead to discontent. I refuse to blindly follow anyone’s lead…I will always question that which I do not understand …and I usually get labeled as making “career-limiting” moves because of this…however, I usually outlast those who view it that way :O) (note: I don’t have to agree, but I do have to understand if I’m going to follow the lead)

    The hard pill to swallow is that passion cannot be created externally. In fact, I’d venture to say it is even hard to define it. If a person doesn’t have it, you cannot give it to them or make them have it. All the perks in the world will not change that fact. The inate desire to do something worthwhile that challenges, stimulates and ultimately feeds that passion…is priceless…and rare.

    Great site by the way…I just stumbled upon this site recently due to this very topic…Keep up the good work, I’ll keep on reading and sharing the insights with others…

  4. I’m retired now, and I retired early primarily because I was in a job where enthusiasm was put down as unprofessional.

    Our first group leader was great, he encouraged enthusiam and innovation. But when he was replaced, his successor treated enthusiasm as lack of emotional control. “Calm down, Jean. Just relax. Take it easy,” he would say. So I started plotting my exit, getting passionate about things outside of work and under my control, and outrelaxing my new group leader when I was on the job. He understood what was going on and had a sense of humor about it. “I can’t believe that’s you, Jean,” he would say with a laugh. I would answer, “Well, X, you showed me the error of my ways.”

    So, it was very friendly, and eventually an early retirement package came my way and I was out of there. I’m as passionate as ever, and now no one gets in my way.

    Thanks for asking!

  5. You have a good point about passionate workers we work with. As much as possible, I try to work with passionate people. Their sense of passion and happiness makes everyone comfortable with our work.

  6. I am a children’s pastor, overseeing upper primary kids at a great church. My work allows me to tap into my greatest passion of developing leaders and helping others live up to their full potential. I love my work, in fact, I don’t even consider it work! It is FUN. What a blessing to be paid for what I love doing. I have been a volunteer for a long time before coming on staff. I think when one is passionate about what one is doing, it positively affects the atmosphere of your work place and it makes everyone happier if you are happy doing what you are doing. I once read somewhere that people will remember you for your passion more than they remember what you do, or something like that. BTW, I love your website!

  7. KimRu: That’s horrible – Passion for your job is a great thing to have. Just think how many companies and managers complain that people are not motivated and engaged.

    Hold on to your passion – and consider finding a job where it’s actually valued :o)

    Brett: Thanks for doing such a cool project – and thanks for the link to the short film – that’s outstanding!

    Sully: I agree and it’s sad. How weak and pathetic must management today be, when it feels threatened and challenged by passionate employees, who don’t unquestioningly follow orders.

    Jean: Well that’s what happens… If a workplace can’t appreciate passionate people, it WILL lose them. To other workplaces, to retirement or, increasingly, to self-employment.

    Marie: Glad you agree that working with passionate people is just that much more fun.

    Lililan: I could not agree more – passion for your work makes it feel a lot less like work and much more like play. And thanks for the kind words :o)

  8. Passion in the workplace drives a relentless desire to help and please, an audacious goal that motivates, a hunger for excellence that’s insatiable. But every day, too many people spend more than half their waking hours doing work for which they feel no passion.

  9. I agree with you about passionate people. How they work is a good measure of their happiness.
    I believe that passion is not only necessary to keep us happy but also to get us to the places we want to go.

  10. Passion is important in all areas of your life, not just your workplace.

    I find that when I am fired up about something, it allows me to be more creative and focused, like making regular postings to my blog, teaching people about the Internet, helping the children in school.

    So what if my colleagues and people around me are not passionate. As long as I am, it is able to influence those around me… and for that, I am grateful.

    Abundance Always.

  11. Passion is everything! I am passionate about my life and about my work. For me a life without passion is dead. In order to keep the passion in my life I regulary take risks, focus on my strengths and take time for the things I love each day.

    I agree with the last post – influencing others with our passion for life and work is something to be grateful for.

    Live Passionately Real – Michelle

  12. Brett I have been reporting to a job for 2 years now that leaves me feeling completely empty inside. Why do I do this? I love the good size paycheck, paid vacation, sick time and personal time. Plus I want to fix up my house and get an addition put on. I have been a single mother all my adult life so putting food on the table and providing nice things for my children kind of took a back seat to my desire for passion in my work. The truth is I love to teach dance and have opened a small ballet school that I work at after my well paying day job. I have a great deal of passion for my school but don’t want to go down the road I’ve seen so many dance instructors who own their own school end up in where the dollars determine whether you can stay open or not. They started out loving their work but ended up hating it. I wish I was independently wealthy then I would run a not for profit dance school for kids who couldn’t afford the training otherwise.

  13. Karen,

    I am not really one that gives the end all type of advice, because I’ve never had a family to support, but I can tell you this much based on my experience.

    You are doing great. You are pursuing your passion on the side and all I can say is that if you get to a point where you feel that opening a balet school is more important than putting an addition on your house, then go for it.

    The world conspires to help you when you take a risk. When I left my corporate job after a year to pursue my passion full time, I was amazed at what I could accomplish by focusing on what I really wanted to.

    Within six weeks I had raised enough money, doubled my web traffic, and found a way to pursue my passion full time.

    You never know what will happen if you take a risk. But if you stick with it and find a way to make it work, it will happen.

  14. Karen,

    I agree completely with what Brett said…I would also like to add this: If you need inspiration to take the risk, please read the book called “Left to Tell” by Immaculee Ilibagiza…I would also suggest “Inspiration…You’re Ultimate Calling” by Dr. Wayne Dyer. Both of these books will inspire you and help you understand how to overcome your apprehensions (also called “fears”) and pursue your dreams…you CAN do it…all it takes is a shift in how you think…is it easy…of course not…but is it worth it…absolutely. I have completely changed my mindset, even since my last post here…and am now pursuing my own dreams and passions…(coincidentally enough, those are to inspire and help others become what they are destined to be)…you know what is in your heart and what makes you happy…start today and don’t look back!!!

  15. i am very passionate person! i love to cook and make pasta to my customers! they really love my son of a bitch pizza! it really makes me feel good though.. that’s the passion i have!

  16. I personally feal that no matter what job,task,even life itself should always have passion for whats being done. As a person i always show passion for family and friends. As a manager in the work force i show passion for my employees,my work and the business. In return it all shows by the way everyone and everything reflects.

  17. I want to share my passion for my work. I wake up in the morning even when I am not feeling well , but I get the energy to go to work because I love it, because I have passion for it. I a settelement worker in schools and help families with resources available for them and refer them to other services in the community. The people you work with become your friends in a way and they attached to you but you want them to be independant b/c mostly they new to the country,
    I always think about how I can help them better, you become a teacher, social worker, friend counsellor in one session.
    I can work without being paid . This is how much I am passionate about what I do. I wake up and think about a project or a session that can help the people I work with. I can write a book about how passionate I am. Thanked God my family supports me. They like to see me happy to do what I love doing. My passion is always aching for more…..

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