Passion in the Workplace

No, I’m not talking about love among the cubicles—it’s the idea that has so many people all tangled up and unable to get out of their own way. “Finding Your Passion.” That concept alone is the biggest impediment to actually figuring out what you love to do. Just look on Amazon. You’ll find almost 200 books dedicated to the topic. How could so much information result in so few people who have actually found their passion?

The idea that passion equals success is a myth. It’s a misinterpretation of the noted mythologist Joseph Campbell’s famous quote “follow your bliss.” Jennifer Howard had an interesting take on the idea in her April 17 Huffington Post article “The Secret to Sustainable Passion.” She noted that because passion, like all emotion waxes and wanes, it is not sustainable. Passion can tell you if your goals are aligned with your values—which is Campbell’s point—but it’s really about commitment. That’s what gets you where you want to go.

Sure I’m biased. We work with people who are tired of sitting around complaining about not knowing what they want and are willing to do something about it. It’s not magic. You have to focus, objectively look at what you both like and want to do and then figure out how to express your wishes. It’s work, not a miracle.

Focusing on passion is often a delaying tactic. It allows you to avoid taking responsibility. After all if you don’t know what you want you can’t be held accountable for not having it in your life. However, if having a happy work life is important to you what you’re really doing is settling for a life of regrets.

You can figure out what you want and make a living at it. But it’s not just going to happen. You have to commit. Focus. Make choices. Work to understand what is truly important to you. Doable, yes? Something you can “outsource” to others? Not likely.

Amanda Mitchell is an executive coach and strategist specializing in helping senior executives deal with disruptive drama within their teams. An advertising agency veteran, she experienced first-hand the business implications of corporate drama both with her Fortune 500 clients and within the Manhattan ad agency she led. She founded Our Corporate Life (www.ourcorporatelife.com) to help executives solve the problems no one wants to deal with. She has been published in Bloomberg Businessweek, and quoted in Fast Company, CNBC.com, and Monster.com. She lives in New Jersey with her family.

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