Is Passion at Work Optional?

no-passion-for-workMeaningful Work, No Passion Necessary

The other day I was at the annual launch party for the Edge Connection, a non-profit organization the helps women, minorities, and veterans create economic self-sufficiency through entrepreneurial training. In other words, the Edge Connection gives people tools to create their own future.

Sounds like a purpose-driven organization to be sure.

Jim Beach of the School for Startups delivered the keynote for the evening, captivating the new and aspiring business owners in the audience.

Jim’s a great guy, I’ve been on his radio show and I think a lot of his work. But when he started saying that you don’t need to be passionate about what you do, I was puzzled.

I wasn’t alone. Looking around the room I saw a lot of attendees with confused looks on their faces. They seemed to be thinking, “What do you mean we don’t need to love what we do?”

Isn’t that the goal of starting a business? Don’t we all aspire to a perfect balance between passion and profit?

My work as a strategic marketing consultant focuses on passionate leaders who want to create purposeful growth. On the surface, you might assume that what Jim was saying was completely in contrast with what I teach my clients. 

That was my initial reaction, but I gave it some thought and realized that Jim is right, at least in part.

Passion is Relative 

When I talk about passion at work it’s not about loving every task. After all, who relishes doing expense reports, conducting performance reviews, or wading through endless resumes to find the perfect employee? Who enjoys dealing with taxes, regulations and troublesome travel?

These mundane tasks and essential activities are part of life in business. They are often required for work, but they’re not why you go to work.

That’s where I can agree with Jim. He spoke passionately about his chosen lifestyle, one in which he had plenty of time for family and the funds and flexibility to visit Disney World regularly. 

Clearly, Jim is passionate about why he does what he does. And that’s what really matters.

If you have heard my story, you know that finding meaning at work is an issue I struggled with for a long time. It wasn’t until that I found the answer for myself that I realized what a huge void there was for others who wrestled with the same question.

It’s Not the Money

Few people are passionate about their paychecks. But if you ask around, you’ll discover many who are passionate about what that paycheck can do for them.

It’s even better when the paycheck is just one piece of the equation that creates a worthwhile existence. When people find fulfillment at work in other ways, they’re much more likely to be engaged employees and stay with the business for the long-haul.

Whether you’re a solopreneur, a small business owner or a leader in a large company, it’s important to connect what you do every day to the money in your bank account.

It’s the big “Why” that counts.

Sometimes Work is Just Work

For some people, work is simply a means to an end. 

My old friend Andy saw it that way. He loved his work in a factory, punching the clock. It was predictable, low stress and he never had to take work home. The minute his shift was over, Andy was headed to the lake to enjoy himself and spend time with his family. That’s what he lived for.

Some might deride Andy for lack of ambition, but I always respected his sense of self. He knew what he wanted and he organized his life in order to get it.

Do You Want More?

Certainly, Andy’s approach is not for everyone. Many of us want something more, something deeper from all the time we spend at work. That’s why people start businesses and why people (not just millennials) are becoming more choosy about where they work when they’re not self-employed.

If you’re feeling antsy because you want your work to mean something, think beyond what you do to why you do it. That’s not just a question for you personally. What about the organization itself?

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How does your company change lives? A product or service simply fulfills a need. That need may seem inconsequential or superficial at first, like helping people make more money or increasing sales.

Is it really all about profit?

Dig deeper to discover the underlying value. Financial advisors help people secure their future. Sales consultants sustain business growth, creating jobs and enabling businesses to serve more people.

Even things like technology that streamlines work flows can make someone’s life better by making their work easier or safer. That’s valuable.

Find you passion in the WHY

Consider the downstream impact of what you do every day. You contribution may seem small at first, but the ripple effect is probably huge. Someone down the line, a customer, investor or even you own family reaps the benefits of your work.

That’s your “Why,” and it’s something to be passionate about.

Need help discovering your purpose? My coaching programs help business leaders pinpoint their purpose and share their vision. Visit or give me a call at 678-823-8228 to learn more.

Photo by Christie Merrill.

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