Typically, success is attributed to nature, nurture, hard work, persistence; plain old luck, and of course, Divine intervention—always. But another, often overlooked, critical determinant of organizational and personal success is passion.
Passion is the deep desire, compelling feeling, and driving force that motivates us. It is our call to action that we are compelled to heed.
An undertaking done without passion is often mere mental or physical drudgery and considered time killed until we can extricate ourselves and do what we really want to be doing. In contrast, when we have passion for what we are doing it is a “labor of love” and is considered “time well spent”—an investment that we make with joy in our hearts and the feeling that we are engaged in what we are meant to be doing.
I remember growing up as a kid and being advised to chose a career that “you feel passionate about.” “Remember,” they used to say, “this is what you are going to be doing for the next 30 or 40 years!”
Too bad, that in the beginning of my career, I didn’t exactly listen. Fortunately, I found my true passion in leadership, innovation, and technology and was able to course correct.
Over time, I have learned that those who are passionate for their work have a huge “leg up” over those who don’t, and that it is a tangible differentiator in performance. Organizations and people that are truly passionate for what they do are simply more engaged, committed, and willing to do what it takes—because they love it!
In light of how important passion is, I read with great interest an editorial in ComputerWorld, 8 February 2010 by Thornton A. May, titled “Where Has IT’s Passion Gone?”
The article provides alarming statistics from the Corporate Executive Board that in 2009 only 4% of IT employees were considered “highly engaged” in their work.
The author questions: Can “IT [workers] crawl out from under the ambition-crushing, innovation sucking, soul-destroying minutiae of just keeping the digital lights on?”
“Trance-walking zombies” just go to work to keep the proverbial “lights on,” but passionate employees come to work to enhance the mission, delight their customers, and innovatively solve problems.
While IT leaders cannot waive a magic wand and make their employees feel passionate about their work, from my experience, when IT leaders themselves are passionate, the passion is often contagious! When we are truly “feeling it,” others start to feel it too.
Now, it’s unrealistic to take it upon ourselves to make everyone happy, but we can certainly do our part by putting leaders in charge that are passionate, letting them lead by example, and allowing them to create a culture of productivity and engagement that everyone can get excited about and be proud of.
One of the big challenges that leaders face when they try to motivate employees is that often there are many good people who were once passionate, but who have lost their inner-drive because of various set-backs, prior poor leadership, or even burn-out. One way to help bring the spark back is to empower these people to lead their own initiatives and to help them succeed where once they were thwarted.
Without passion, what are we all really doing except taking up space?