I had to do some grocery shopping today and couldn’t help noticing the following words on the till receipt: “Do it with passion or not at all!” I fortunately love my job and put passion into what I do, but not everyone has this same experience of work. There are many employees, even some on management levels, who hate their respective jobs. They work because they have to work, not because they love expressing their uniqueness and contributing talents that others may not have. Work, for them, is drudgery and overcoming residual inertia every morning to get to work is extreme effort in and of itself.

A friend of mine, a fully qualified auditor and accountant and MBA student (almost finished), when asking her how her career was developing, responded sadly: “Jonathan, I have lost my heart. I now only give the company my hours that are required, but my passion to do well and give them my all has gone”. I asked her for the reasons behind this so-called “loss of passion” and she was quick to list them all:

  • No real leadership integrity – hence, loss of trust in leadership
  • Being paid well below her net value and potential contribution to the company’s future
  • A lack of respect for her needs – e.g.: expecting her to work late (outside of normal hours) when her managers know that she has family members to care for (she already starts work at seven every morning!)
  • No real ‘voice’ and/or the perception that she and others are not really heard
  • A prevalent departmental silo mentality and a lack of integration within the business
  • A lack of empowerment

Regaining ‘passion’ and ‘heart’ requires pursuing what sets your soul on fire – relevant work activities, goals and leadership opportunities that stretch you to the core. Real value (knowing that you are highly respected, appreciated, recognised and paid accordingly) comes from an environment where you can exercise your influence without fear and collaborate with people from all over the business to bring about meaningful change. It also comes from you focusing on your unique giftedness and bringing that to bear on business development and growth. With the latter, you develop reputation for all the right reasons and your influence-ability grows.

While those in leadership need to focus on creating the right environment for all to express themselves with flair, you can apply your energy to enabling your own growth and ‘presence’ by using one of more of the following ideas:

  1. Create a ‘vision board’ and mount the board in your daily space – a vision board is about what you are hoping to achieve, where you want to go with your career and the kinds of passionate contributions you want to make. This vision keeps your ‘big picture’ in mind, helps you to stay focused and facilitates motivation to get it done.
  2. Discuss your envisaged future with your boss – agree on training interventions, opportunities and growth path direction. Your manager may come up with new possibilities for you.
  3. Collaborate with high performers both in and outside your organisation – high performers are usually creative people and act as mentors and idea generators.
  4. Read widely – understanding business from many perspectives is useful to broaden your own ability to make decisions and offer strategic opinion.
  5. Hone your very best skills – whilst there may be some merit in addressing areas of weakness, most of your energy and available time should be invested in enhancing your giftedness. Work hard on becoming great in those areas of life where you best express your talents.
  6. Appoint a mentor – an internal ‘coach’ is helpful as the person knows your environment, however, an external mentor/coach will see things differently, provide challenging opinions and probably stretch you to achieve much more than you thought possible.
  7. Tackle one community-based project a year – this activity plants your feet in reality and helps you in developing care and compassion, both essential characteristics of leadership.

Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire. There may be many setbacks and obstacles to achieving what you desire, but resilience and persistence are essential skills to get this right. With a passion-related vision in mind and a plan to achieve the vision in place, you may be unstoppable.

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