Thursday, January 01, 2009

Path to Passion

I had an interesting dialog with a colleague recently. He left a long, multi-year consulting stint a few months ago to join a start-up in Silicon Valley. He's absolutely loving it. The excitement and passion are prominently on his sleeve.

Many of us have probably felt this excitement on certain jobs or certain assignments. A year ago I had a job/assignment where, on occasion, I would wake up on a weekend, think about getting ready for work, and feel disappointment upon the realization that it was not a work day. What a wonderful sensation. I've worked on other projects where I've felt similar passion.

Of course, I have also been in jobs where I've been so sapped of energy and enthusiasm that it seems, in hindsight, that I simply marched like a lemming in the proposed direction. I remember trying to change things and meeting more resistance than I could surmount, and then, sad to say, submitting. I was professionally... dead. I can blame it on my youth I suppose. The last time I can recall being severely numb was around '94 or '95. I never wish to experience that again. More to the point, I will never allow that to happen again.

As a consultant, I get to spend time with different companies of different sizes in different industries. I really enjoy the work - particularly in the first month or two as I learn about the client, domain, people, challenges, and ... opportunities. As I spend time in these new places, I find some people who are passionate about what they are trying to achieve. This always gives me hope; it is typically these people to whom I gravitate. But I also see many who seem to be marching or strolling along, without passion, desire, or commitment. I find this frustrating.

Of course, we don't all have to draw deep satisfaction from our work; other priorities can make up for the lack career excitement. But here's the thing... if you have to spend 40 hours a week doing something that doesn't get your motor running, why not find something that does? It doesn't necessarily mean you quit your job for another, but at least make progress towards that other thing that excites you. If you're a musician and would rather be playing in a rock band than doing corporate tax returns, practice, go out and meet other rockers, attend open mike nights, etc. Make some progress.

Don't accept a job you're not passionate about unless you can find a path to passion. And if you're in a job with no path to passion... snap out of it man !

1 comment:

vinnie said...

This is so true. I live by passion and what you say is so important. I couldn't agree more.