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So, Here's My Story... is the only business podcast that promises wildly useful lessons from the absurd, the poignant and the seemingly irrelevant. Business is messy and unpredictable. Business has depth and nuance. Business is more than spreadsheets. Business is stories.... and we want to hear yours.

Mar 26, 2019

There is a lot of talk about “finding your passion” in this world. For some, their passion is so clear that it is almost inevitable. For others, though, the idea of finding their passion weighs them down and makes them feel incomplete. But passion isn’t a package you find where all you have to do is untie the bow. Often, it’s more like following a trail of breadcrumbs to an unassembled piece of Ikea furniture. And that’s the kind of passion we want to talk about in this episode.

Why is that important for business?

It is easy, in a “job”, to feel like you are simply killing time before you find what it is you are really “meant” to be doing. It can also be easy to not invest in employees who are good workers, but who aren’t committed to staying. But what if both sides were to act as if that job is the passion? Even if the person leaves the job, they are both still better off for having made the effort, and in that work, breadcrumbs – facets of the work – will often be revealed that are part of the employee’s passion.

Unidentified passion should not be left as an “until then” or “someday” kind of thing. It isn’t always something you can go after, but instead, takes curiosity and detective work. In a previous episode, we talked about the difference between staying at a job, and not leaving a job The “one foot in, one foot out” kind of working inherent in not leaving actually makes it harder to find your passion, because you aren’t discovering the pieces or aspects of your work that are either a clue to your passion, or a clue to what definitely isn’t your passion. (Because it’s important to remember that some people are better at creating from “not that”.)

Sometimes, not committing to a job feels safer, because it means that it will just stay a job – something temporary, not a part of your identity. Like Jim Halpert on the Office, when he said:

“Right now, this is a job. If I advance any higher in this company, then this would be my career. And, uh... Well, if this were my career, I'd have to throw myself in front of a train.”

But if you never really commit to what is in front of you now, how will you ever know if it – or parts of it – are your passion? Sometimes, the only way you get to the next cool thing is to take ownership of the current job and use it to learn about your passion. If you coast, you will miss out on the opportunities to learn about other things that might end up being your passion. Be fully there until you decide you want to get out or want to stay. There is nothing of value in the tepid zone.

And if you find yourself on the other side – managing someone who is only there until they find their passion – it is also important to invest in good people, whether it is their passion or not. If you also exist in the tepid zone, if you don’t pour something into that team member, then what you have done is made it impossible for anything to develop.

Resources mentioned

Elizabeth Gilbert, speaking about passion.

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