Why Your Passion Matters Most in Your Career

In America, following your passion traditionally can be something you may feel guilty for, wait for retirement to do, or expect others to support you as you volunteer. We are all selling ourselves short!

by Pete Ferguson

This week one of my friends was called into work early. The company has been downsizing for some time and he was greeted by the other directors and a contingency from the corporate office. The meeting was brief, they were told that their Vice President was no longer with the company.

The VP had been a stubborn protector of the jobs remaining and had refused to make further cuts.

My friend was invited to a “get to know you meeting.” As he walked into the office with his new boss – someone transplanted from corporate – he saw his resume on the desk. He was interviewed for his current position, as were the rest of the team. After many years of dedicated service and going the extra mile, he now had to justify his position.

That was where the story left off earlier in the week. I was terrified for him and his family, but also knew he is very talented and could likely find employment elsewhere, but it could require a much longer commute or reduction in pay.

But this morning we heard a very positive turn of events. My friend has been working on a project as a hobby that he didn’t think anyone was paying attention to at work and had felt almost guilty for spending very much time on it. It was something he is much more passionate about, but he didn’t think it was “real work.”

Turns out a lot of the people at the corporate offices had heard about his innovation, and very much think it is real work. So much so that he has been given a team to expand the project and, within a week, he has gone from thinking he was doomed to being the possible savior of a branch of the company.

I’ve spent the past two years working a lot more on my passion than a J-O-B.

At first I felt guilty. Like I was betraying my company. I mean, real work isn’t supposed to be enjoyable is it?

I was getting up early and staying up late to very quietly post anonymously on forums, read great books, hire a career coach, and had my resume reviewed by a number of different sources. I did get attracted by recruiters and made the final list for several different positions that would have been a large increase in pay and title.

But through the process, I realized I didn’t want more of the same. I wanted more of – well, more!

I enjoy developing people.

I enjoy helping people find ways to help themselves. And at work, I too experienced what my friend just experienced. My talents were recognized, and a new position and team created for me to do more of what I love.

I’ve gone from only enjoying about 10-15% of what I do in a week to 85-90%. And it has been fabulous.

When we are doing something with passion, it is effortless. The hours melt away. Weekends can be a distraction if we are not careful to give our same passion to family and friends.

As I look at all of the construction work outside my office I see my 18-year-old self staring back at me. I spent many years in hard physical labor to get through college.

The kind of jobs where the clock seemed to run backwards and I would think in terms of “if I can just make it to the 10 am break.” Then lunch. Then the afternoon break. Then I’d thank the heavens for the last 20 minutes of cleanup and rush home and try to forget it all until 6 am the next morning.

But as I walk into a clean, well-organized building, off to do something that really matters to me and to others, I’m glad I’m on this side of the fence, and not standing with a shovel on the other side.

What is your passion? How much time in a week are you spending in pursuit of your passion? If you are spending less than 75%, you are likely overweight, depressed, and have little energy.

It’s time to make a change. It’s time to lean into the pain. It’s time to hire a career coach. It’s time to spend a lot more time reading, writing, thinking, planning, and doing!

Have a fantastic weekend. Steph and I are celebrating 16 years together today. We have five fantastic kids who are living out their passion in school, dance, music, friends, and family fun.




3 thoughts on “Why Your Passion Matters Most in Your Career

  1. Pingback: Daily Leadership Thought #53 – Passion Matters « Ed Robinson's Blog

  2. Pingback: You Cannot Teach Someone Passion « Job Seeking Today

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