How to Start Thinking About Passion

Passion.  If you have a job that you like reasonably well, you might not even want to go there.  This is understandable.  After all, passion is a vague term that is often thrown around, but in fact means different things to different people, and exploring it can be confusing and overwhelming.

Chang’s Theory of Passion

Richard Chang, who wrote The Passion Plan, describes passion as both content-based (activities like writing, hosting events, or racing cars) or context-based (themes like innovation, nurturing, and risk-taking).  Chang says that we can experience both types of passion in our work, and can often find ways to weave our passions into a current job without making a drastic career change.  Indeed, in my speeches to would-be entrepreneurs, I often suggest that the passion for innovation be satisfied by joining an “intrapreneurship” committee that develops ideas for new products, services, and efficient operations on behalf of the well-established organization.

Formulate Your Definition

However, in order to find ways to pursue your passion at work, it helps to have a concise definition.  According to Tom Siciliano and Jeff Caliguire, authors of Shifting into Higher Gear: An Owner’s Manual for Uniting Your Calling and Career, coming up with such a definition involves analyzing:

  • What you do really well
  • What makes you unique
  • What moments in your past have proven the most memorable to you (examples: “I can still remember shouting with excitement when I was teaching my neighbor to ride her bike and she first took off on her own” and “I recruited the kids on my block to open a lemonade stand – we made a ton of money!”)
  • What you have that the world needs

Every individual has a distinctive mix of physical traits, personality, gifts, skills, natural abilities, experiences, training and interests, which means that only you can do the work you do in the exact way you do it.  And when you accomplish something you’re perfectly suited for, you feel alive and fulfilled, as if you’re making the world a better place.

Most Importantly

Depending on your point of view, this might seem overly scientific or overly abstract.  Remember that the point is to identify what you love doing, where your energy comes from, and why.  Take a few hours one day and really think this through.  You won’t regret it.

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  • Tom

    Some clues on discovering your passion; If you had a day off this is what you would be doing, if you had all the money you needed you would still be doing this, you don’t get tired when you doing this, you are always interested in learning more about this…. thoughts from Tom Siciliano; co-author of Shifting Into Higher Gear

  • Anonymous

    @Tom S, is that you?  I actually quote you in my chapter on passion in my book, New Job, New You.  Thank you so much for reading.  I’m thrilled!

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