Following Your Purpose with Passion – A Key to Living & Leading Authentically

I cannot see into your mind, but I know at least one thing about you. I do not know this because of any prognostication or precognition. There is no magic or mystique. What I know is based on probability and experience, and it will ring true for each of us differently, but it is something that I know we all share.

Here is my prediction – at one time or another, you had a job that you hated!

See? That wasn’t such a great leap now was it? Of COURSE we have all had a job we hated, that is part of growing up and becoming a functioning adult. What the job was, how much we hated it, and how good we were at said hated job; well, that is where the big differences come in. But this article is not about the individual jobs, and how or why we have hated them. Just knowing that it is something we all share is enough for now. But I wonder – 

Have you ever known someone who has been “stuck” in one of those hated jobs? Someone that, for whatever reason, lives in drudgery and toil at a job they have no passion for? Sure, we probably all can think of one person we know who fits that bill. What about the opposite?

Do you know anyone who has a menial or “dirty” job, a job so tedious, monotonous, boring, or mundane that it would drive you insane? A job that might be seen as degrading or demeaning if YOU had to do it? Again, of course you know people in those kinds of jobs. But have you known someone in one of those jobs who absolutely LOVED what they did? Someone who, for them, their job is a major part of their life, their purpose? I hope you have had the privilege to know someone like that.

That kind of passion for a purpose is rare indeed, and it does not have to be someone in a menial job. It can be ANY job. I challenge you to prove me wrong, though, that for every one person who LOVES their job, there are ten people who hate THE EXACT SAME JOB. Maybe it’s even more rare, say 100 to 1, or even 1,000 to 1. Have you met that kind of person before? Someone who finds value in everything they do, no matter how small. Those people are amazing!

And no, I am not even CLOSE to that kind of person, but I do consider myself passionate about whatever I do, and I tend to throw myself into projects with enthusiasm, because energy is more fun than lethargy. Happy is more exciting than sad. Passionate is better than blah.

Following your purpose with passion is one of several “marks” of an Authentic Leader. Coined by author Bill George of the Harvard Business Review, authentic leadership is not a specific style or individual trait of leadership; instead, it is a collection of styles and a mash-up of traits that are able to be used interchangeable as needed by the situation. A leader needs to be able to reflect different styles with different employees. This can be based on the type of job, the personality of the employee, or any of the myriad reasons that you would want to adopt a style to suit the situation. But back to passion.

If you lack passion in what you do, you will not do it well. It is that simple. Really.

Pick a profession, any profession. Got something locked into your mind? Good. For me, I will pick an assembly line job at an auto plant. Now, I want you to picture a person, any person, in that profession. Got it locked in? Great job. 

Now, clone that person, create a duplicate of them. These two people are exactly the same, except the 1st person LOVES what they do. They enjoy the team effort required, they enjoy being challenged by quotas, and they have fun while on their shift. The 2nd person is identical in every way, except they DREAD their job. They find the repetition monotonous, they find the work dull, and they don’t enjoy their co-workers.

These two people are 99% identical. Which one do you think is going to be better at their job? Who is going to have higher production, lower error rates, and lower injury reports? Who will stay in their job longer? Of course, it is rhetorical. Research shows us again and again, dedicated and passionate employees are better employees.

How do we “make” people be more passionate? More dedicated? The days of child-labor factories and indentureships are long gone, and in our free-market, free-will society, we cannot force anyone to be dedicated, and passion cannot be mandated. Nor can we rely on telling bad jokes at staff meetings and buying donuts every Friday. And heaven forbid you have yet one more “team-building” training or motivational speaker. UGH!

Creating passion and dedication in your staff starts with you. Are you passionate and dedicated? If so, how does anyone know it? How do YOU show your zest for the job, no matter what it is? Look at your top performers, your go-getters. I bet they are passionate and dedicated as well, so what do they do, how do they show it? I cannot answer those questions with any specificity, but I will make three more predictions about their (and your) motivation.

  1. The Big Picture: I predict that your passionate and dedicated employees understand their role in the big scheme of things. They see how what they do fits into the overall puzzle, and they can see the worth of their part. As a leader, YOU should be making sure to recognize each employee based on how they are part of a bigger whole.
  2. The Safety Net: I predict that those high-performers have a well-developed network of both personal and professional contacts. These are the people that they reach out to for support, for advice, and to help when they get stuck. These connections are usually diverse and reach well beyond their perceived boundaries. As a leader, you should foster an environment of openness and not being afraid to ask for help.
  3. The Relief Valve: My final prediction is that these go-getters, these hard-chargers have something that they use to blow off steam and burn off energy when they need to. Hopefully this is a positive relief valve, although that may not always be true. This relief can be martial arts, yoga, reading, a hobby, a “side hustle” they enjoy, an artistic project they work on, exercise, or innumerable other things that help to provide the necessary outlet to unplug, recharge, and reset. As a leader, you should find something that can engage as many of your employees as possible, with the greatest chance of success.

These three things are critical to keep and maintain passion in what you do. There are other marks of an authentic leader that I will cover in other articles; but for now remember to pursue your purpose with passion, and be passionate about whatever you pursue!  

If you want to learn more about organizational success, happy employees, lower stress levels, and lower turnover, plan to attend one of my upcoming webinar trainings, or contact me today to set up a consultation. Discover how evidence-based Positive Psychology, authenticity, and happiness can transform your workplace!

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