I have just, this very Valentine’s Day morning, officially launched my new book, Getting Passion Out of Your Profession: How to keep loving your living…come what may! Below is an excerpt from Getting Passion…offered as a Working Wisdom Valentine’s Day special. Enjoy!
To order Nina’s new book for yourself, your team, colleagues, friends or family, please visit us at ninaspencer.com or call 416-588-3334.
Do Something Different to Beat the February Blahs:
Decide to Get Passion Out of Your Profession!
“If you always do what you’ve always done,
you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
In 1990, I came across a saying that’s become one of my all time favourites: “If you always do what you’ve always done…you’ll always get what you’ve always got!” I regret that I’m not sure who first said it, but this much I do know: anytime I’m frustrated over a recurring, dissatisfying result, I hear that saying in my head and ask, “Well, Nina, if you want to get something different, you’ve got to do something differently! What’s it going to be?”
A few years ago my family had the use of a friend’s cottage for a week. Being city slickers this was a welcome change. None of us had our own fishing rods but my children knew they’d want to “go fishin”, so I rummaged around the back of the garage for some old fishing rods I’d had as a pre-teen (which was over 30 years ago!). Somehow, I found them. Through my rose-coloured, nostalgic glasses, I declared that the rods were “like new.” In reality, they were arthritic and enjoying their dusty, rusty neglected retirement.
Within moments of arriving at the cottage, the kids dug out my old rods from the bottom of the trunk and prepared them for their first casts. The rods didn’t work. No matter how hard they tried, these rods had gone kaput–small wonder! Braving my children’s long faces (and now knowing that I should’ve passed on “memory lane” and just bought new rods before we left the city), I said, “Never mind. First thing tomorrow, I’ll go into town and buy brand new rods.” That pleased them well enough and, with that, they turned around and went swimming instead.
But my husband! Could he leave it at that? Absolutely not! For the best part of the next hour he tried and tried and tried to make those rods work. He eventually surrendered to my good judgment and said, “OK, I give up. Let’s get new rods first thing tomorrow!” Now, hey…there was a good idea! Why didn’t I think of that??? But later that evening, at twilight, when the bugs were upon the water and the fish were jumping with delight at the abundance of their feed, my husband rushed down to the dock, grabbed for those poor old tired rods and once again commanded that they work! When they refused, and after he had hooked himself with an aborted cast, the cursing in comic strip fashion began, “*@!!*!!@**!” Never have I had a more classic example from my own experience (or my husband’s) that so richly demonstrated, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got!” If you want to get something different you’ve got to DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT! You want to catch some fish? Get a new rod!
Make it Stick
The work world (and all of the world for that matter) is in a state of transition. No kidding. At work, especially, things are changing at a faster pace than ever before. As clichÃ© as that truth is fast becoming, we know it to be so, like it or not. And this transition will probably last all the rest of our work lives and beyond. This may not be news but it’s still a big adjustment for people who have been in their jobs long enough to remember a different way, but not long enough to yet retire. Major forces contributing to change in the workplace include cost pressures, downsizing, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, rising client demands, social changes, shifting values, automation, information technology, to travel or not to travel, and issues of national security. Have I left anything out? Oh yes, social and physical global uncertainty, too! Many people believe these changes are a threat to their sense of comfort, success and satisfaction and are having a hard time seeing their way around it while trying to continue living and working in their own backyards.
No matter what your job, whether it’s in the work world or in the home, for a deeper sense of personal satisfaction and success, it’s valuable and important to develop increasingly higher levels of self-awareness, self-management, interpersonal communications and respect for self and others, and to periodically remind yourself about why you loved performing your chosen work, in the first place.
After all the layoffs, early retirements, reengineering and restructuring, what is the glue that will hold this organization together?
— David Noer, Breaking Free
What is the glue that’s going to keep us together in our day-to-day professional and personal lives? How can we find deeper meaning in our work, and inspiration from our daily contributions, in the face of the stresses and challenges of our new workplace reality?
In the balance of this book, I’ll share eight kinds of “glue” for helping you do more than just survive at work and elsewhere in the days ahead. Development and maintenance of these skills and perspectives will help you thrive and bolster your sense of confidence to deal with any situation that comes your way. Becoming a practicing student of these strategies, all the rest of your days, will help you reclaim your early days passion for your profession and give you the mettle to ride out even your darkest hours of doubt about your chosen field of work.
Some people have more confidence, focus and energy than others to fortify themselves in topsy-turvy times. Some people are naturally wired to sustain passion for their profession through all their working years, no matter what. For others, it’s not always that easy.
To bring that confidence to life for yourself, to reconnect with passion for your profession (or to sustain it), and keep it in a holding pattern forever more, embrace and practice these eight passion points:
- Practice Positive Thinking: Consciously choose positive language and thinking to influence your passion for your work, and to inspire the passion of others.
- Project Professional Self-Worth: To really get a hit of the fine contribution you make, be willing to acknowledge, to yourself and others, how well you do what you do.
- Protect Sense of Humour: The benefits of keeping your sense of humour are good for both your health and your spirit. Guard against the dreaded and humourless diseases of Psychosclerosis (Hardening of the Thinking) and HDS (Humour Deficiency Syndrome) that slip into workplace settings and zap everyone’s chances for feeling passion for their professions. Be the one who starts the humour cycle, instead of the anger cycle.
- Play with Perspective: Perspective has everything to do with how you think about control. What do you control? What don’t you control? Who do you control? Who don’t you control? Think of control like the weather: when you go outside you get whatever’s there! It’s up to you to modify your perspective so that you can deal with all the workplace “weather” successfully.
- Profess Purpose: It’s easier to stay the course when you know deeply why you’re doing what you’re doing. Getting clear about your bigger purpose helps. Try the “five whys” test. Ask yourself, five times, “Why do I do this job?” and for each answer, ask, “And why is that important to me?” By the fifth “Why” you’ll be getting closer to the truth of your purpose for doing the good work you do.
- Preserve Energy and Enthusiasm: Energy is the groundwork for enthusiasm and the only thing more contagious than enthusiasm is…the lack of it. Practice daily strategies for taking care of your physical and emotional energy.
- Promise to Persevere: You may be in the right job for you, and in the right organization, too, but still get into a funk about work from time-to- time. In those cases, cut yourself some slack and persevere. Blue periods disappear sooner or later. Learn to keep the faith. Make a list of the things that you really love about your work (and then keep that list close by to look at every now and then).
- Perpetuate Relationships: Find creative, time-efficient ways to stay in touch with your circle of influence and expand that circle regularly. Sincerely and authentically network your guts out. Keep in touch with enthusiastic, energized colleagues in your field, as well as outside your field, to help sustain your passion for your profession. Be sure to attend and champion employer-supported internal conferences. And attend some external ones, such as professional association conferences, too! Association conferences and in-house, formal professional developmental workshops can make a big difference in what happens next in your career or life.
When you’re green you’re growing; when you’re ripe you rot.
Take a careful look at this list of passion points. Who do you know who embraces and demonstrates all of these skills? To which do you find yourself saying, “I already do that one”? To which do you instinctively know, “There’s room for improvement for me with this one”?
You’re probably already a walking, talking example of at least some of these skills, and it’s your competency with these skills that’s helping you surf the waves of change and uncertainty so far. How much better can you get? How much better do you think you’ll need to get? Remember, “When you’re green you’re growing, and when you’re ripe, you rot!” You can never get too good at the skills that are essential for thriving at work and in your personal life.