Sometimes you just need to ask the question “am I living my passion?” Too many people get late into life and discover that all those years at work meant very little. That can be the saddest indictment ever given.
From time to time I find my coaching clients struggling with a sense of being disconnected. Disconnected from a meaningful purpose for their work. Or perhaps a misalignment of skill sets and attributes.
Here’s a Story
I was coaching someone I had known for over 15 years. A new opportunity that unfolded about 2 years ago seemed so promising at the time. Yet now, this person was being told they were “not contributing what management expected.” OUCH! What does that mean? Well besides the obvious, you can add to it whatever you want based on your own experience in a similar situation.
In this case, we talked at length about the situation. In reality, my client was expressing a disconnect in the job requirements versus their personal strengths. We came to a conclusion that the job was requiring a supercharged, Type A+ personality, which my client does not have. Now mind you this person is gifted and talented but has a much more gentle personality; hardly the power charged Type A profile. Discovering that new management wanted more Type A coming from this person creates a misalignment.
When you think in terms of your own wheelhouse, the place where you do the most good, the highest performance, you likely are including attributes that are fueled by your passion. You do things best when you are inspired to do them. Self-motivation comes from a natural passion and drive. Without that passion, the effort is only half done.
It is hard to muster great effort without having the passion to do it. Sure you can do that in spurts, making the sacrifice to accomplish an immediate task. However, long-term, sustained quality effort will not be achieved without some kind of deep passion for the work or the task.
In 2008 when the U.S. economy had its recession, the jobless rate climbed to great highs. Various markets saw unemployment above 15%. I started a non-profit to help job seekers with making the transition. The organization coached over 4,500 in a span of 5 years.
One of the immediate realizations I saw was the frustration so many had about leaving jobs that really had never meant that much to them. Yes, they needed paychecks to feed families, but the truth was, they never were all that happy at work. I began teaching a 6 step program for job search success that started with surveying your job history, identifying the functions and accomplishments that gave the most reward. I encouraged people to reconnect with their passion, their wellspring of drive.
I suggested that before they simply tried to update their resumes, they needed to redefine who and what they were, identifying key attributes, strengths, and interests. Basically, they were encouraged to rebuild the wheelhouse.
I had hundreds of job seekers make wide-sweeping changes in direction. Some with a job history of over 20 years shifted focus to new and totally different endeavors.
The message? You were forced into a change, why not make a big change? People started sharing the frustration with having gone down paths in industries and careers that held little meaning. Pay had been good, but fulfillment was lacking. Now, with a new vision, they were inspired again.
The positive mindsets drove energy and inspiration that shined during job interviews. This was different than the outlook for staying in an unfulfilling career and simply finding more work.
For me, watching so many be energized and renewed proved the importance of tapping into the passion, that purpose again.
You Owe it to Yourself
Before you make a commitment to a new venture or a new job, you owe it to yourself to re-evaluate your purpose and your passion. Don’t simply pursue more of the same old same old. Take a look at what might really light your lights.
Entrepreneurs and business people can get trapped in moving to the next opportunity or the next promotion without staying true to a passion. A false sense of responsibility may be the force making you do that. Yet when realigning your passions with your opportunities, you will experience far greater reward.
Here’s What to Do
If you’ve lost sight or maybe never thought about this passion thing, ask a few trusted friends and associates. Have a small circle of friends each give you three words they would use to describe you. Tell them you are seriously considering some key decisions and having this identity defined for you would be very helpful. Three words from each person. Make yourself a list of these words. I promise a picture will unfold. People who know you best will hit on the attributes that are proof of who and what you are.
Let this information become the foundation of your thinking about your new future. Just maybe you are already in proper alignment. If you are, congratulations, you are blessed! Likely though, you are not. Now, you have a new opportunity.
Today is the day. Don’t wait another 5, 10 or 20 years to figure this out.