passion

3 Reasons I love What I Do

I had a very interesting conversation about work with a friend of mine this week. He received some feedback at work saying that he was very intense and could at times slip into being very transactional with people, especially when he is under a lot of pressure. There are times when people saw him as controlling to the point that he would step in and do others work for them just so workflow processes were not interrupted. The folks in his department said that, while a great guy socially, he was not fun to work with.

To his credit, he completely owned his behavior. He was not proud of it and held himself completely accountable for it.

As I began to ask him questions about his role and the organization he is a part of I started to notice something in his language that I found really interesting.  The conversation went something like this:

Me:  “So tell me about your area of responsibility."

Him: “Well, we basically make sure that there are enough supplies coming in so that when a need arises the work is not interrupted, and ultimately customer needs are met.”

Me: “That sounds like a lot of responsibility. Do you enjoy being in the middle of all the action?”

Him: “The work takes a lot of focus and there are a lot of people who depend on us to get it right.”

Me:”I get that it is important, but do you enjoy it?”

He took a long pause before answering.

Him:”Well it is work. By definition, it is not supposed to be fun”. 

Another long pause.

Me: "So what you are saying is that you spend 60-65% of your life, most of your waking hours, doing something that is not giving you meaning and satisfaction?”

Him: “Well, I have goals, and the work I do helps me to fulfill those goals.”

Me: “I get it that you have goals and the work you do is important. Why can’t your work be fun?”

He paused again.

Him: "Because it is work...Scott, do you have fun doing what you do?”

There it was. Plain as the vanilla yogurt my wife puts on her cereal in the morning.

Do I have FUN doing what I am doing?

I told him that without a doubt, I do. I really feel like I am answering a calling for my life. For over 20 years I worked in organizations. I had the chance to work with some really top-notch leaders and some leaders who, well let's just say, were not so top notch. 

When I started doing EQ training and executive coaching almost 15 years ago I really felt called to help leaders seek opportunities to find meaning and purpose in their chosen vocation and lend them the support to make any change they deemed necessary. I think when you find what it is that you were created to do, then the rest just takes care of itself.

iStock-690855708.jpg

I told my friend that I truly believe that the organization is totally reflective of the soul of the leader. That the issue he was having in his organization had nothing to do with his skills or abilities. I really didn’t even think it was the tension and pressure of the role he was in. 

The issue is that he is treating his role like his job and not his calling.

3 Reasons I Love What I Do

  1. I interact with really cool people. Since I am a solo practitioner I have to limit the number of clients I can take on at any one time. So my main criteria for whom I work with is: are they cool? Do they have interesting organizational issues? Do they have really hard challenges that I can help them think through? Do their values line up with mine? I have to tell you, this is so important to me. I want to interact with folks who see me as a partner and not a vendor.
  2. I am passionate about my topic. The leadership model I use most often is emotional intelligence. I see so much application for this work from improving sales technique and making good hiring decisions to improving interpersonal relationships and lowering stress. Emotional intelligence is about helping leaders find a sense of well-being and pursuing meaning in life. 
  3. There is always a challenge. People-work is interesting work. I work with very high functioning, high performing, and successful individuals and teams. The work is never easy and never boring. There is always a new challenge waiting just around the corner.
  4. BONUS: I have a really great team. Shout out to Brandi, Angela, Gretchen, and Michelle. I could not do what I do without you guys.

How about YOU? Why do you love what you do? What gives you a sense of calling and purpose in the work you do?

Stop Following Your Passion, Try This Instead

When The Passion Burns Out

We are all told to 'follow our passion.' When finding a job, do something you're passionate about. If you are working on a project or presentation, find a topic you are passionate about. Although passion is important, I challenge you to consider if it is truly sustainable, and if it can remain constant. Much like in a dating relationship, the passion is strong in the beginning, yet over time, the intensity of the passion mellows. This also happens when starting a new position in leadership. You are excited about the possibilities ahead for your followers and are passionate about the work, yet as you settle into the role and establish a routine you find that the excitement has dissolved and the passionate drive has slowed down significantly.

Does this feel familiar to you?

Trust me, you are not alone in this feeling. In fact, I can relate and even share with you what I did about it.

pexels-photo-89860

It's Happened to Me

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, says one of the grand misconceptions about quitting your boring job so you can have a creative life is that 90% of what you will find in your new life that you are seeking is boring too. It is mundane. It is slugging it out. In my own life, I left my job to pursue my passion and do what I felt would be more exciting. Today, I get entrepreneurs and business people who come up to me and say, "I want to do what you do, it seems so cool." Now, I am blessed beyond measure, and when I am with my clients face to face helping them become more effective it is awesome.

But I want to let you in on a secret.

90% of what I do is boring.

I have contracting, and invoicing, and managing expectations, and TSA, and delayed flights. But I wouldn’t trade it right now for anything because I do enjoy that 10% that allows me to interact with interesting people. The one thing that motivates me through the mundane are those people, as well as one simple word: curiosity.

Cure it with Curiosity

I propose that curiosity is more sustainable than passion. Curiosity is vibrant and what you as a human being have been created to be. Think about sitting a little kid down with crayons or with Legos. They just started to create and explore the colors. It often doesn’t make any sense to have a purple bumble bee, but we encourage this in kids. When a kid builds a lego building or car, rarely do they ever step back and say, "This is my masterpiece, my life's work is finished!" Instead, they are curious about their creation and what they can do to make it better, or even do something entirely different with it.

Leadership is much this way. Cast a vision, identify your followers, build your team up, but do not stop there. Become curious about your team, how you work together, and the goal you are working toward. Learn about your followers and look at your projects from different angles. This will allow you to gain perspective of how others see your leadership versus how you see it and allow you to revel in this curiosity.

Stay Curious

Krista Tippet, the producer and host of the podcast On Being, asked this about marriage one time: "Can there be anything more intimate and exciting than marriage?" Two people whose lives become intertwined and intimate to a point that at times they feel as though they are one. A relationship that experiences intimacy and passion, and yet in my own experience is 90% boring.

Please don't misunderstand what I am saying. My wife is NOT boring! In a marriage, especially when the kids are grown, this becomes evident. Things become routine. We take the basics for granted and most of the time it can seem quite ho-hum.

How I treat the boring is to become curious about what is boring. Taking myself and my needs out of it, and instead making it an exploration of the perspective of my wife. Always learning, always curious.

This is should be your leadership experience: A journey of curiosity with the discipline of organizational leadership. Leadership is a marriage between you and your followers. After some time, this relationship can become very boring, if you don’t remain curious.

The Power of Curiosity

Through curiosity and learning, you'll strengthen your leadership and build strong relationships with your followers. Your new found understanding will allow you to work in sync and you'll see your vision arise. When this happens, there will be moments where the passion is reignited and you should enjoy it. Until those moments, remain curious and be eager to learn. This is a safe and wonderful place for you to explore.

Like the famous actor (and most interesting man in the world) Jonathan Goldsmith laments on the Dos Equis beer commercial to “stay thirsty my friends," I say “stay curious my friends, stay curious."

Homework

Think about your followers and what you would be curious to learn about them. Plan a team meeting or a one-on-one with your followers to spend time getting to know them more personally and professionally. What can you learn from them? What potential or skills do they have that you could utilize more? What insights could they offer on your current project that you hadn't thought about? Take some time this week and schedule a couple of these meetings. Let us know how they go or what you learned by leaving a comment below!