This is part three of our BizLibrary Values series, in which we explore the pursuit of excellence by being passionate about what we do. Check out the rest of the series here:
- Part 1: Smarter Every Day
- Part 2: Freedom To Fail
- Part 4: Enjoying the Journey
- Part 5: Building Successful Partnerships That Last
- Part 6: Respect for Others
Finding your passion at work
At BizLibrary, we believe that everyone does their best work when they are engaged and passionate about what they are doing. In fact, we look for evidence of passion from the very first interview.
We expect our teammates to be raving fans of what we do — helping organizations deliver more engaging and effective employee training. We also expect them to be passionate about their roles in helping us deliver on that mission. We believe that passion at work is one of our biggest competitive advantages.
Unfortunately, the statistics on employee engagement aren’t very good at all.
According to a Gallup poll, only 32% of all employees in the United States were considered engaged in their jobs in 2015. The majority, more than 50%, were “not engaged” while another 17% were “actively disengaged.”
So, we know intuitively that we do our best work when we are engaged and passionate about what we’re doing, but we also know that many of us aren’t fully engaged on the job.
How do we motivate ourselves? What can we do to bring out our best? Here are four tips for finding your passion at work:
Start with the right attitude
Throughout my career I’ve learned that every job has good and bad parts. Not everything is perfect every day, but if there is some “purpose” that comes with it, you can find meaning and fulfillment.
In my early days of working, my purpose (and therefore my passion) was about providing for my family. Thus, the economics that a job provided were important and even if the job wasn’t perfect, I was motivated to do a good job and found it fulfilling.
Think about it this way… If you go into a restaurant with the wrong attitude —“I’m not hungry. There’ll be nothing here I want to eat. I don’t want to be here”— the menu most likely isn’t going to look appealing. You won’t explore it with due time or attention, and it’s unlikely you’ll find food you’ll enjoy eating.
The same principle applies to work. If you go to work each day expecting to be bored and uninspired, that’s exactly what you’re likely to feel.
If you’re convinced that finding your passion is hard, or that it’s not going to happen for you, you’ll remain closed to possibilities. You’ll block the little nudges, pulls, and signals that guide us all. After all, how can you expect to find fulfilling work if you don’t believe it exists?
Identify your peak experiences
Once you’ve decided that your passion IS findable, it’s time to look for evidence of what you already love to do. If you scan the landscape of your life, you’ll notice certain experiences peak up. It’s so valuable to delve into these “peak moments” and extract the key ingredients.
Consider yourself a beach-trawler, discerning between the gold and the cheap metal. For example, my favorite summer job wasn’t really a job at all. My brother and I started a business cutting 20 lawns every week one summer in high school. In reflecting on that experience, I found that the key ingredient here wasn’t that we liked being outdoors or dealing with the occasional difficult customer.
I liked the freedom of working for myself and organizing and leading my team of 1 (just me and my younger brother). I also liked the daily routine of preparing the equipment, planning our day, and reflecting on our experiences at the end of long, hard days.
Paying attention to my metaphorical metal detector, it become clear that the bleep went off when I was being a leader of a successful effort or day. That’s exactly what I do now in my work — but without my brother and the mosquitoes!
Make a list of the ingredients that truly mattered in your peak moments; don’t be distracted by the counterfeits.
Look for connections
When you look at all the ingredients that matter to you, they might seem entirely disconnected at first. Let’s say you love bargain shopping, reading, working with people, organizing, and being a leader within a community. How could you construct a career from these? It’d be like peering into your cupboard and seeing cocoa powder, tofu, and carrots and wondering, “How could I possibly make something delicious that includes all of these?”
This is the time to look beyond the ingredients and seek to find the connections – something that connects all of these ingredients.
For example, a family friend — whose diverse passions are described above — helps people organize and decorate their homes and businesses. She talks with them at length, constantly reads blogs, magazines and books on the latest trends and classic ideas, organizes a plan, and takes them shopping at resale shops and antique stores, ultimately helping them to find special one-of-a-kind items they are proud to display in their homes and businesses. Oh, and she’s built a recognizable Pinterest profile showcasing her favorite projects.
All of these passions fit under the overarching umbrella of her business; they’ve all found a home there, and the variety actually helps her to stand out and attract her perfect clients.
What are your ingredients – and how can you connect them?
Surround yourself with passionate people
You can choose to adopt the perspective that you can do what you love with your life.
After you’ve identified the characteristics of your peak experiences and how they are connected, what’s left?
One of the best ways to find your passion at work is to surround yourself with people who are living examples, both at work and at home. For example, how many of your friends and family are following their passions? If it’s not many, it might be time to expand your circle; associate with and be inspired by men and women who are inspired by their work.
At work, do you eat lunch with a group that is constantly complaining or conversely never wants to talk about work at all? Instead, look for co-workers who are engaged in their work and spend time with them. You’ll find in short order your attitude will be improving and you’ll start to find your passion at work!
These four steps aren’t meant to be an exhaustive list of how to find your passion at work, but they represent some ideas I’ve been able to use throughout my career in business. I hope you find them helpful!