Re-ignite Your Passion at Work
By Gary Bradt
Follow your passion is a popular prescription for achieving
career success and personal fulfillment and early in a career, it’s
easy to do. There is so much to learn and every encounter is so new
that even routine duties can seem flush with opportunity. Nothing’s
mundane. Passion’s flame is fresh.
time, however, that flame can begin to fade. What was once new and
unique can seem routine and boring. Cutting edge management ideas
and philosophies, viewed through the prism of experience, begin to
echo yesterday’s warmed-over initiatives. Management fads come and
go as quickly as the buzzwords that spawn them. You reach the point
where you’ve seen and heard it all before, and may have trouble
getting excited about seeing and doing it all again.
fades as cynicism creeps in. If this describes you or someone you
know and you or they want to reverse the trend, take heart. Below
are five tips to rekindle your passion at work, and your passion
Take responsibility for stoking your own fire. Passion is an
internal phenomenon. It comes from the heart. Therefore, don’t
expect anyone else to light the flame for you. It would be nice if
your boss or company’s leadership occasionally ignited a spark
through inspiring words or actions, but the ultimate responsibility
is yours. Everyone has to find his or her own source for the flame.
rekindle passion, try redefining it. Don’t rely on what
motivated you earlier in your career you to motivate you now. You
are a different person relative to when you first started out. You
have different perspectives, skill sets and maybe a different value
emphasis. For many, the value shift over time is from
accumulation – of money, titles, and promotions - to
contribution of time, energy and effort to others. Shift your
focus accordingly and your passion will follow.
example, one senior executive found her work had grown stale in the
latter stages of her career. She decided to shift her focus from
organizational excellence (which she continued to achieve with ease)
to developing people, an area she had previously given short shrift.
She decided that if even one person’s career or life was better for
having worked for her, then she would have accomplished her goal.
This change in focus revitalized her and reenergized her people and
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. If the thought of a
change in venue for applying your skills and experience makes you
uncomfortable, that’s good. Often, with new and untested territory
comes renewed passion. Take the leap.
example, perhaps it’s time to take your line business acumen and
apply it to Human Resources, helping that function better align
itself to business goals and objectives. Maybe you can offer
yourself as a mentor to more junior colleagues. Maybe the expanse of
global operations has created an opportunity for you to learn and
contribute in a cultural framework different from your own. Outside
of work it may be time to teach at the local community college, or
volunteer your services and skills with a community organization
that aligns with your values. Consciously choosing a new venue for
applying your skills and accumulated wisdom can be a wonderful tool
for relighting passion’s flame.
Focus on a cause larger than yourself. Reaching beyond yourself
to help others, or taking on a cause greater than yourself, can be a
powerful source for rekindling the flame. For example, on a recent
flight I met a remarkable man. Twenty years ago he was a successful
CEO but he realized alcohol had begun to consume his life. He sought
treatment, and in so doing, realized he needed to take his life in a
totally different direction. He quit his highly visible job and
started his own business, which has thrived. Outside of work, he
began to dedicate his life to helping others overcome their
addictions, too. He now serves as the volunteer CEO of a drug and
alcohol rehab facility he and others built from the ground up in his
hometown. He reports this volunteer activity as being the most
rewarding work of his life.
Publicly declare your intention to find a new source for passion’s
flame. Often, the first step to re-igniting passion is to
publicly acknowledge your desire and willingness to find a new
source for your passion at work. Several years ago I shared with my
wife (who is also my business partner) that I was becoming bored at
work and was ready for a new professional challenge. I did not know
what it would be, but by stating my intention publicly the seed for
change was planted. A year or so later I had a chance encounter with
a bestselling author that eventually led to a whole new career for
me as a speaker and writer. Without planting the seed of change by
sharing my intention with someone else, I doubt I would have
recognized the opportunity this chance encounter provided. Often,
the first step in making a change is acknowledging your desire and
willingness to make a change happen, even if you are not sure what
that change will look like in the end.
Final Word: Follow your passion is good advice for
achieving personal and professional fulfillment and success. The
source for passion’s flame may very well shift over time and you
have to shift with it. If you do, you will find that work within
your career and beyond remains fresh and vital for as long as you
chose to stay in the arena.
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