Passion At Work Is A Two-way Street

By Jon Harrison

Passion.

The word conjures up many images. To some, it might describe romantic feelings, an artist’s inspiration, unbridled anger, careless dreaming or wanderlust.  

In my professional life, I wanted team members — regardless of their function, pay grade, or title — to be driven by values, information and PASSION. I don’t believe it was as common to talk about passion in the traditional workplace in the past as it is today.  My father was a very talented architect, but he often described his job as a “means to an end,” meaning it was a way to put food on the table for his wife and seven kids. So, the word passion might have applied in the arenas of entertainment or sports, but not for “normal” jobs.

I’m thrilled that people today want to find passion at work. We spend the majority of our waking life at work, so why shouldn’t we seek passion in that part of our life?

My concern is this: I believe many people are chasing passion, but disregard the fact that every job comes with mundane and less exciting parts. People need to realize that it is unrealistic that a job will hold nothing but passion.

For example, Tom Brady, at 42 years old, just won the Super Bowl for the seventh time. This is an amazing achievement that may never be equaled in his “work arena.”  However, what many people overlook are the countless hours he has spent training on the practice field, watching films and learning plays, as well as his incredible discipline related to exercise and diet — all of which have allowed him to be successful for more than 20 years in a very demanding job. 

See, for Tom Brady (and for all of us), passion is a two-way street. Of course, the organizations where he has been employed and his “supervisors” have had to foster a culture where passion can exist. His role, however, is to come to work each day remembering his passion and why he chose this “profession” (even on those days where he might not be feeling it), but also to do the mundane things that allow him to live out his passion.

Is your organization one that allows people’s passion to thrive? Are you a person that is doing all that you can to grow your passion?  Do you have a realistic view of what passion looks like at work?  When these concepts are in sync, amazing things happen.  

In our training we use the phrase “two-way street” perhaps more than any other.  CEOs, owners and upper management all desire success for their organizations, and everyone else who works at the organization desires the same for themselves. The issue is that both parties sometimes fail to understand that they both have to do their part for organizational and individual success to happen. 

As I mentioned earlier, the word “passion” has many meanings. However, when the word is being used in conjunction with a positive work environment, you will also find everyone in the organization both understanding and executing their roles to make this a reality.