Nov 20 2015
At the end of the year, we often reflect on our goals for the New Year and beyond. As you think about your career goals, you may consider focusing on incorporating something you're passionate about.
Know Your Passion
It probably will not surprise you to know that the majority of people are not passionate about their work. In the United States, 77% have no job passion (Deloitte LLP, 2010); in Japan the number is 60% (The CONNECTYOU Report, 2009).
Many are not even aware of the absence of passion in their professional life. However, knowing and sustaining your passion is important, if not necessary for the career success of executives. Without knowing what motivates you, how can you motivate and lead others? Without knowing what motivates you, how can you define your career goals and make the next successful career move? Your passion is also your source of strength. Without it, you do not aspire to your greatest self.
This article is about passion for executive career success and the role of the coach in identifying and sustaining your passion. To show the stark contrast between a life with or without passion, let me share with you two encounters I had.
On a Monday I asked my friend, a director at a marketing agency, “How was your weekend?” “Oh, I had to work the whole weekend. I am so tired,” was his answer.
On the following day, I encountered another friend at his home after his performance. He is a tenor and music entertainer. Even after performing that day, he spent the whole evening – while taking a shower, while eating, listening to and watching music.
Struck by the difference, I asked him: “Tell me, what are your hobbies?” “I do not have hobbies. My job is my hobby,” was his answer.
I define passion as any strong feeling of affinity, enthusiasm, desire, or love for someone or something. Any person can have several passions at a time. Passions evolve over time and can be brief or forever.
Everyone Can Have Passion for Their Job
Although most people don’t, I believe everyone can have passion for their job. I want you to as well – to have a life of passion by working your favorite job.
Realizing your passion is a journey that will give you an epiphany, a revelation. It will give you a purpose that will make you more motivated, ambitious, and most importantly happier.
Do Not Fool Yourself
Fooling yourself means that you fall into a trap of your own making without realizing it. You describe your dream, passion, and innermost career aspirations and find out later that this is not what you wanted at all. How could that happen? As Nobel Prize Winner Richard P. Feynmann once warned, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” To some extent, fooling yourself is actually unavoidable, because many of us do not know who we are and what we want. If we did, the famous question, “What is the meaning of life?” would not be so famous, let alone impossible to answer.
But we can still minimize the risks of getting on the wrong train going in the wrong direction. Taking pause to open the image you hold of yourself to friends, family, and especially yourself means seriously checking in and evaluating whether or not you feel fulfillment, enthusiasm, or fun from what it is you do every single day. Lloyd Blankfein tells his story in a commencement speech at Laguardia Community College in New York in 2013:
“After college, I went to law school for three years, and then into my dream job at a big New York law firm. But even though it had been my dream, I didn’t like it once I got there. For the first time, I was feeling financially secure, but I knew I wasn’t passionate enough about what I was doing. And because I didn’t love it, I would never be fulfilled from it, or be really good at it. Someone who loved it more would have greater enthusiasm and focus. For some it was fun, for me it was always going to be a chore. After five years at the law firm, I decided I wanted to try something different. I came home and told my wife I was quitting, and she cried. And not out of happiness. Anyway, it worked out. I got a new job at a small Wall Street firm, we got bought out by a larger firm, and I ended up remaining at that large firm.”
Blankfein has been at that firm for more than 30 years and been its Chief Executive Officer since 2006. The firm is Goldman Sachs.
Use a Coach
One person cannot be and do everything. Use a coach to avoid fooling yourself. Use a coach to help you find and sustain your passion. It is only when talking with people, working with people, that you will begin to realize not just what kind of passions you have, but which one is critical for career success and how to articulate it best. You can better define what you are passionate about with the advice and support of a professional coach. This teamwork approach is an enjoyable process that produces better and faster results than the trial-and-error approach of doing it yourself.
Identify Your Passion
One very simple question the coach should ask executives is: What do you really like? People love their work if they can feed their passion. This will dramatically reduce the number of people who dislike their job (68.4% with people aged 30 to 39) and significantly increase the number of people with passion for their work (only 16.8% on average for all age groups; Source: CONNECTYOU Report 2009).
Executives often try to encourage, coach, train, or incentivize underperforming staff. However, much of this activity is inefficient for the underlying truth is that many people have boring work. Behavioral psychologist Frederick Herzberg was right when he said: “You cannot motivate anyone to do a good job unless he (or she) has a good job to do.”
The Need to Measure and Track Passion
Executives need a Passion Measurement System to measure passion and sustain passion improvement initiatives. “What gets measured, get done,” says management expert Peter Drucker. Executives must also measure and evaluate their staff’s passion when assessing a project. Companies must measure and evaluate executive performance in terms of passion in addition to quality and profits. The role of the coach in the establishment of a proper Passion Measurement System cannot be overemphasized.
Your Coach As Accountability Partner
Your coach holds you accountable. As an accountability partner, your coach pays attention to details, corrects you when you drift away, and assures steady progress and achievement of deliverables during your passion discovery and improvement initiative. Yes, coaches are not free. You will, however, make more than your money back by avoiding costly mistakes and achieving a higher performance and business goals faster.
Case Study: Passion That Fuels Corporate Turnaround
An IT systems integrator company has been suffering from shrinking revenue and lower profit margins. Its president had no vision and no passion for his business. A turnaround was overdue.
The president engaged me as his coach. All changed with one simple question: “What are you passionate about?” Without thinking, the president answered: the fun and joy of amusement parks such as Disneyland.
This got the president to realize the importance of passion. His business was misaligned with what he really wanted to do. He had no passion for his business at all. In hindsight, he never had. No surprise then that he was exhausted and his business was ailing.
The next step was to create a more powerful vision for his business. As a student his dream was to become rich. We discarded his old vision. He became thrilled with the idea of delighting his customers with a service that would bring them the fun and joy that he experienced in Disneyland.
Together, we created a new vision for becoming a leading service provider in a fast-growing segment of the web-based entertainment industry. This was it. This new entertainment service would inspire all his employees, turn their commodity-type work into a value-added one, and bring delight and joy to his customers. At the same time, it would generate high-profit margins.
Knowing your passion and how to nurture and maintain it at high levels over a sustained period in cooperation with a coach is my career success formula for you. Connect with the BlueSteps Executive Career Services team to see how we can help you find and develop your career passion!
The Ultimate Executive Career Guide: Connecting with Executive Search
As a senior-level executive, you can use this guide to:
- Learn about executive search and how it differs from other forms of recruiting
- Discover the best ways to connect with executive search professionals
- Understand how the search process works
- Implement strategies that will help you become visible to the search community
- And more!