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“If I get downsized, laid off or declared redundant, who else out there is going to hire me? Where else will I find this level of work, with this kind of salary? I’m a victim of the ‘golden handcuffs’ and I don’t know if anybody else would want my professional services!”. These are the secret fears of many a person who has approached me at the close of my keynote and workshop presentations on, Getting Passion Out of Your Profession.
My heart aches for such individuals because I know they really believe no one else would ever hire them. Where is their sense of self-esteem? How have they lost their professional self-confidence? We can all appreciate how intimidating it must be to update your CV and shop yourself around if you’ve been with one employer for a decade or more, especially if you were the one who wielded power or sat in the recruitment and selection chair while with that organization. There’s definitely, for most, an indirect correlation between years of service with one company and professional self-confidence on the wide open market.
My advice and response, in a nutshell, is, “If you were really no good here, then you’ll be no good there; others will know it and you’ll have a hard time. But if you really were good here, then you’ll be terrific somewhere else, too; someone else, somewhere else will see your value, even if it takes a little time to find something new. Persevere, believe in yourself and your gifts, talents, skills and competencies, and listen to your intuition.”
Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next.
— Jonas Salk
Think, right now, of someone you know who was initially devastated to lose their coveted position due to downsizing or some similar reason; someone who held a respected position within one organization for many years. Maybe they had a tough time when the boon was first lowered but, in the majority of cases, as early as six months later (when you bumped into them on the street), they told you, “It was the best thing that ever happened to me!” Right?
A perpetual sense of your professional self-worth, especially through rough times or transitions, makes all the difference. Knowing and appreciating what you bring to the workplace table helps to fortify passion for your work, despite the blowhards and other daily workplace irritations. And knowing has everything to do with your thinking and self-talk. What do you tell yourself about your daily workplace experiences and contributions? How are you thinking and feeling about your day-to-day professional worth?
Years ago, when I chose to leave organizational development within a large corporate setting, I was overwhelmed by the number of colleagues who took the time to express their farewells. And what do you think so many said? “You’re so lucky! I really admire you. I wish I had the courage to leave.” To listen to their wistfulness, you’d think I was being paroled from prison and that their release had been denied. “Someday I’ll quit, too, and start my own business…but not right now. I don’t have the nerve”, many revealed. I knew the day I left that my colleagues were, at least in some part, dewy-eyed because they wished they were the ones departing.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.
— Johann Wolfgang Goethe
It is almost impossible for anyone, even the most ineffective among us, to continue to choose misery after becoming aware that it is a choice.
— William Glasser
I’m not suggesting to find your professional passion you must quit your job. What I am saying is it’s amazing and a pity that so many people would rather be anywhere else than in their current position. For some, it’s not that they don’t like their profession or organization, it’s just that they’re stressed out or bored to death. Either way, whatever love they once felt for their work is now an echoing memory rather than a current reality. If I conducted a roving reporter survey in any downtown business core, asking, “Have you ever entertained the idea of quitting your job?”, what do you suppose the answer would be? I suspect a lot of people would say, “Yes, I think about it daily!”
You don’t have to quit your job to have passion for your profession, but if you do want to feel more passion for the good work you perform, while staying put, consciously decide to get clear about how you want to experience your workdays. Passion for any job, from the most modest of frontline positions to the loftiest executive suites (or even for any volunteer position), is a choice. If you decide to demonstrate gusto, energy, enthusiasm and passion for whatever job you’re performing, you will create it. Everything, we know, is created twice–first in our thinking, then in our reality. Therefore, even if you have to “fake it ’til you make it” for a while, you’ll still reap some of the same rewards from your demonstrated, impassioned outlook and behaviour.
Did I hear you say, “Easier said than done”?
The expression, “easier said than done,” has been around for a long time. Erase it from your vocabulary. It’s a classic excuse for not even bothering to try. Here’s a replacement: “Just do it.” Just choose to be passionate about your work and reject any competing thoughts.
When I hear people say, “Easier said than done”, while arguing why they’d rather stay put, even if they’re miserable, I think of two inspiring passages. The first is from author, Richard Bach’s 1970 classic, Jonathan Livingston Seagull: “Argue for your limitations and sure enough they’re yours.” The second is offered by author and speaker, Brian Tracey: “Anything worth doing well is worth doing poorly at first”.
Intellectually, we may see the benefits of adopting a different approach, but habit keeps us stuck in old patterns of thinking and doing. Most of us won’t change until we get a whack on the side of the head to wake us up. Something has to happen. So you lose a parent, or you get downsized or fired, or you survive a serious illness. Some significant emotional event occurs that gives you a bop on the side of the head and makes you say, “From this point on I’m putting more passion and zeal into everything I do, including my work, because life can be so unpredictable and there’s no time to waste on the trivial and the negative.” It’s a curious thing that so many of us must experience physical or mental pain and suffering before we “giddy up” and change our ways. We don’t really have to wait for metaphoric or literal pain to shift to a more positive outlook. We can consciously decide that there really is no time like the present to make the passion shift.
Isn’t it a lovely and even mildly profound coincidence that, “Significant Emotional Event”, makes the acronym S.E.E.? It often takes a “SEEing” to recognize the truth about which way to go next. Another name for a “SEEing” is CBK. …Cosmic Butt Kick! Who needs a CBK? Anyone you know? Yourself perhaps? A CBK works like this: The universe (destiny, fate or whatever) says, “I’m going to give you this experience; are you going to get it?” If you say, “No!”, and don’t get it, you get another CBK another day! And then you get another and another and another, until you finally say, “Okay, Okay. Enough already! I get it!” The eureka is born and the new action follows.
This is the tail end of the month of the unofficial “New Year”–September. Time for some new eureka’s and new actions, perhaps? Surrender to the beginning of autumn and all that it has to offer. The heralding of autumn is a terrific excuse for reenergizing and wrapping yourself in a warm blanket of heartfelt passion for the good work you perform. Now summer’s undeniably behind us, there’s no more excuse for shilly-shallying and dilly-dallying. Time to get on with it…to hunker down and get back to basics and to business with abandon. If you love your job without any coaxing or convincing, bully for you! If you’re not quite “there”, choose to declare now a good time to move yourself along and self-energize/re-energize. Find something, anything, about your job to power you up and carry you forward through the autumn and winter months ahead. So much of your professional satisfaction and spark (in any season, but especially through the colder, darker months), comes from your thinking. (Re)identify, today, what professionally excites you so you can give yourself a tune-up, fire on all cylinders and feel your internal engine purr at top performance through the balance of 2012 and clean on into the beginning of that “other” New Year!
Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.
— Oprah Winfrey