Finding Your Passion

T.S. Eliot wrote, “It is obvious that we can no more explain passion to a person who has never experienced it than we can explain light to the blind.” Passion is central to the quality of human life, and when we live our lives with excitement and wonder, we are fulfilled. But how many of us feel this way at work?

Every day, too many people spend more than half of their waking hours doing work for which they feel no passion. For many people, prying themselves out of bed in the morning and basically sleepwalking through the day becomes the accepted norm. We buy into cynical lines like, “it’s called work for a reason — it’s not supposed to be fun.” So how do we find our passion at work?

The key is looking in the right place, and oddly, the right place is actually not at work. If we want to find our passion in work, we must first find our passion in life. We must examine who we are at the very core of our being, and then discover what excites us and moves us every day. That is the key to finding our passion with work.

So, let’s walk through an example to provide a little more clarity on this issue. Imagine our job is unloading trucks. We don’t even have to define what the product is that we unload. Let’s just say, they’re widgets. So, how can we find passion in this job, day in and day out - unloading widgets? First, we examine our life and determine what we’re passionate about, independent of our work. And let’s say that turns out to be basketball. If dreams really did come true, we’d be playing professional basketball right now. Instead, we’re unloading trucks. It seems like our “passion discrepancy” is quite large here, and perhaps not even resolvable.

But, let’s look a little deeper. Is the game of basketball really where the passion lies? Does dribbling a ball up and down a court truly make you feel alive? Or, is it the passion of winning; the competitive nature of understanding that it’s your craftsmanship versus an opponent’s that ultimately determines the outcome of a game; or the drive towards excellence that outshines your rival? Typically, it’s those attributes that we are passionate about. Basketball is simply the vehicle that allows us to live out those passions.

But we realize, we’re not that basketball player in our job. We unload trucks. So, what do we do? We bring the attributes of basketball that we’re passionate about, to our work. Competition and excellence are really what drives our passion, and once we see this, once this is understood, we are no longer bound by the game itself. Whatever we do, if we bring our level of competitiveness and drive towards excellence as our approach, then we will have found our passion - even if it’s unloading a truck.

If we want to experience our competitive nature, we unload a truck faster and more efficiently than any one else doing this job. There will never be a day when another teammate unloads more widgets than us. We become so skilled, and so proficient in our unloading capabilities, that we become the best. We become untouchable in terms of our skill at unloading a truck. The same passion that came forth in the game of basketball, has now found a home in our work.

This happened because we came to truly understand what our passion was. This is how we find happiness and excel at our jobs. Every workplace will typically provide a limited range of jobs and tasks. On the surface, it may seem that none of them is suitable for bringing out our passion. But that’s only because we are looking for our job to create the passion, instead of first, finding our passion from our life.

Passion is key to a successful work experience and enjoying how you spend the majority of your waking life. Go find it... and then bring it with you to work. Everyone will benefit.