Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Your Career and You..."Passion" Is Key

Earlier this year
, I wrote about one of my favorite topics, "Passion."

Not the steamy Victorian heaving bosoms and sweaty brows type of passion.

This was the "I love what I do for a living and can't think of anything else in the world I would rather be doing" kind.

The kind that, sadly, seems to be vanishing from the workplace with all sorts of not-so-good results. The kind that I shout about daily from the podium to my Communication major students at Curry College.

There are, of course, two sides to the "Where's passion?" story. One is that of the manager who seems to have forgotten what the most crucial piece of a successful business really is...the employee.

The other is that of the employee who more and more is looking at his or her place of employment as a "job."

I was delighted to read a Harvard Business Review post by John Hagel III and John Seely Brown entitled "Six Fundamental Shifts in the Way We Work" this morning that speaks to just this issue (among others).

Hagel and Brown list as their sixth change that of "Passion is everything." Here are two excerpted statements that, for me, sum up the whole thing: "Passion is when people discover the work that motivates them to achieve their potential by seeking extreme performance improvement...If you can help make your employees more passionate, you can create value in today's economy."

So what does this mean for you as the job seeker? It means two things.

First, identify and zero in on the type of business that really gets you excited. You do this through various types of experience...internships, summer jobs, informational interviews, networking.

The second step is a little trickier...when you go on actual job interviews, try to assess the passion that your potential boss and others in the organization have for what they're doing. Look for the fire that tells you they wouldn't want to be any other place than where they are.

I once had an informational interview with the CEO of a major PR firm in Boston. She was so excited about what she and her employees were doing that she had to show me everything. And when I talked with various staffers, I saw the same enthusiasm. When I left the firm...an hour later than intended...I was hooked! Even though I wasn't looking for a job, I wanted to work there!

Is this a fool-proof plan, though? Nope. I often regale my PR concentration students with the story of an actual job interview that I went on.

Met with the guy to whom I would be reporting and was impressed with his seeming enthusiasm for what he was doing and his vision of how we would work as a team.

Didn't meet any other members of the organization. Hmmm.

Long and short stories? Potentially great opportunity. And the working relationship from Hell.

As I've also said in a previous post, "Stuff happens." You learn from it.

To circle back and close out this conversation, though, it's all about passion...yours and theirs.

Learn as much about yourself as possible...likes, dislikes, wants, needs, dreams, and nightmares.

Then learn as much about the area that holds the greatest amount of interest for you...the people, the expectations, the rewards, and the punishments.

Finally, look for the passion.

"We may affirm absolutely that nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion."
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, "Philosophy of History" [1832]

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