Earlier This week I was driving to the gym listening to some music that I hoped would energize me. Suddenly there it was!  The song that would stick with me throughout the workout.   The moment I heard the introduction I knew it, so I cranked up the radio and sang along.  Rod Stewart was signing about Passion!  Later as I began my writing I looked closer at the lyrics.  These jumped at me,

There’s no passion, I need passion

You need passion, We need passion

Can’t live without passion

Won’t live without passion

Can’t live without passion

Even the president needs passion,

Everybody I know needs some passion,

Some people die and kill for passion,

Nobody admits they need passion, 

Some people are scared of passion,

Yeah passion.

Passion is a unique concept because it’s tied to our emotions. There are several definitions, but they can be consolidated to reflect passion as a strong emotional feeling, sense of excitement, or enthusiasm associated with a person or activity.  So what is your passion?  Is it your work?  Perhaps it’s a hobby?  Are you trying to find it again?  It could be time with the family or close friends.  Maybe it’s a dream?  Are you one of those who is scared of passion or do you embrace it? 

Let’s begin by considering passion from the C-Suite.  In his HBR post, How Senior Executives Stay Passionate About their Work  Jacob Morgan an author and researcher at The Future Organization had one-on-one conversations with hundreds of top business leaders,  He identified four common passion-related themes that emerged from these discussions.

1 Impact on Society – Senior leaders consider the impact of their work and that of their organization at a community and global level.  They craft the story of the organization and spend time outside sharing it with others.  This serves to reinforce and heighten their passion.

2 Connection vs. Constant Availability – Senior leaders recognize the difference!  They find ways to disconnect while still keeping the pulse of the organization. They recognize that being tethered to the organization leads to burn-out and loss of passion.

3 Peripheral Vision – Senior leaders emphasize the importance of peripheral vision and knowing what is going on around them.  It’s important to look forward, but by considering what is happening peripherally, a new and exciting perspective can serve to enhance their engagement, performance, and passion.

4 Leadership as Service – Senior leaders perceive their positions as one of service not power.  They realize that a key component of their job is to transfer their skills and knowledge to others. In doing so they illustrate their passion.

So, at this point maybe you haven’t quite made it to the C-suite, but that passion that once let you welcome each morning seems to have become a bit elusive. I’ve heard some say, “ I used to be passionate about what I did, but it’s not the same anymore.”  What’s not the same?  Have you changed jobs or positions?  Are there new members of the TEAM?  Has there has been a change in leadership or organizational vision?  Well, if you’re waiting for someone or something else to reignite your passion, it’s not going to happen!  David Williams, a contributor to Forbes, considers the challenge of rediscovering your passion in his post, Lost Your Passion for Work?  It’s Your Fault (And How to Get Out Of Your Rut)  Williams provides four recommendations for “getting outside yourself” and rediscovering the passion you once felt.

• Proactively look for something you can get excited about – Remember passion does not exist in the job, it exists within you.  What was it about your job that first excited you?  Is it still there, Can it be rekindled with a new flame and burn in a different manner?  Is there a new component of your job that  excites you?  It might be a client, an opportunity to go the extra mile on a project, making a difference, proposing the new idea.  Sometimes it simply takes a little searching.

• Get outside your routine – “If you want to rediscover you passion, its time to expand your horizons.”  Are you comfortable?  Get uncomfortable!  Actively look for and/or request a new challenge.  Re-arrange your work environment. Restart your mornings with some exercise or a planning walk (My idea)

• Ask how you can help – Actively look for new opportunities to help on a project or further organizational initiatives.  Can a job description be modified to let you work on something that truly excites you.  Remember, “It’s about what you contribute, not what you get.”

• Take pride in your work – Does your work reflect your absolute best effort?  Is training available to help you improve your skills?  Often great work coupled with obvious efforts to improve skills yields compliments and attention, which in turn foster passion.

Williams concludes with a simple idea, if we give ourselves the opportunity to enjoy what we do, we foster our passion for what we do.  Kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy!  Not a bad routine to start embracing!

There’s a story about John F. Kennedy that’s tied to this idea of passion.  It seems that while on a visit to the NASA Space Center in 1962, President John F. Kennedy noticed a man carrying a broom.  He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said, “Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy, what are you doing?” “ Well”, the janitor responded, “I’m helping to put a man on the moon!”.  Now there’s passion! 

When it comes to passion, position doesn’t mean a thing.  It’s what YOU bring to the table!  Whether it’s your job, your family, a hobby, or simply a momentary venture, it’s throwing yourself into it like you will never have the opportunity to do it again.  Some make it look easy like my friend Barry. Regardless of whether he is interacting with his staff, vacationing with his family, attending a board meeting, or simply out for a morning run, he exudes passion for everything he does.  He’s also one of the happiest guys I know. Perhaps that will be a future newsletter, The Passion-Happiness Connection!  Have a great week and Embrace the Challenge.