Passion for work is something we’d all like to feel, but it often seems out of reach.
Maybe it’s the commute, the coworkers, the company culture – or just the daily grind. Besides, it’s hard to find passion when the pressure is on.
But after speaking with a series of high-performance entrepreneurs, we found out that passion-driven work is not some distant dream in the distance.
There are real, practical ways to cultivate a passion in our careers, and with some focused effort, we can get closer to our dream job every day. Here is what business leaders recommend for discovering that passion and bringing it to life.
Start the Search
Be honest with yourself for a second: are you serious about searching for your passion, or are you just passively waiting for it to appear on your doorstep?
It’s a hard truth that we all need to confront at some point. Passion can only be found if you put in some effort, and that means taking a more active role in its pursuit.
“Finding what you are passionate about in the workplace requires some exploration both inside and outside the workplace,” said John Wu, Co-Founder and CEO of Gryphon Connect. “I get inspired by podcasts and videos I watch on the Internet. I also read many books on subjects that I am passionate about. Once you start exploring through knowledge, you can gather your passions and apply them to the workplace.”
There is bound to be something you find intriguing or engaging in your downtime (that isn’t watching TV or scrolling social media)!
When you map a path from your hobbies to viable business outlets, that’s when you start really connecting the dots.
“I believe that focusing on professional development is key when it comes to discovering what you are passionate about in the workplace,” said Rachel Blank, Founder and CEO of Allara. “Reading business books, attending seminars in your industry, and staying up-to-date on the latest trends are ways you can continue to grow as a professional. As you expand your knowledge, your interests will reveal themselves, and you will find ways to pursue them.”
You may not even know that you have a hidden talent or knack for something new. The only way to discover those gems is to dig, which means trying new things at every turn.
“The internet has made it one thousand times easier than ever to find that spark of passion for work that many of us have been seeking forever,” said Matt Miller, Founder and CEO of Embroker. “There is an endless library of online tutorials, classes, communities, and resources right in the palm of our hands. It’s a bit overwhelming, in fact, so break it up into little chunks and treat your education as a side project. Eventually, you can shift gears from consumption to production, start making stuff, or just level up in your career.”
Flipping the Script
Our culture is all about celebrating independence and individuality, both of which are great pursuits. However, to find a sustained passion in our professional lives, it often helps to focus on how we can help others and benefit the world beyond ourselves.
“This is the paradox that I think everyone begins to understand with age,” said Chris Cronin, Co-Founding Partner at Kitanica. “When you start to put other people’s needs above your own, things like purpose and passion become illuminated before your eyes and you start to see the path more clearly. It’s difficult to comprehend when you’re first starting out in your career, but the sooner you grasp the concept, the more joy and fulfillment you’ll get out of everything you do in work and life.”
By flipping the script from personal achievement to the greater good, more opportunities will unfold before us, as well. This is what leads many business founders down the path of entrepreneurship in the first place.
“We all gather bits of self-knowledge in our early careers and combine them with our ideals and aspirations,” said Amanda E. Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer at TatBrow. “When you finally see an opening in the market or a project you wish to pursue, you feel obligated to step up and set the wheels in motion. When you dig into the stories behind all your favorite brands and the companies that shape our world, that’s what you find: people who truly care about making life better for everyone.”
Finding our passion comes with a price, but it’s usually not a wad of cash or a check. Instead, it’s the mental and emotional toll of confronting our fears directly, whatever those fears may be.
“It’s no coincidence that the most passionate people in the world are also the most fearless,” said Max Spielberg, President of Genexa. “These are the folks who stare fear right in the face and jump into the fray even when others tell them it’s impossible or unwise. To really unlock your passion, therefore, I think it’s crucial to pinpoint what your biggest fears are, then tackle them head-on without looking back.”
The most common fears are rooted in human nature, so it takes a strong sense of will and discipline to really get to that next level. For many business leaders, it’s a never-ending process of improvement and self-discovery.
“Nobody ever found their passion by playing it safe and risking nothing,” said Michael Fischer, Founder of Elite HRT. “At the very least, you should prepare to face some judgment from others and confront those doubting voices in your head. What you’ll find, however, is that when you blast through those mental barriers, things become more intuitive, and your confidence builds. From there, it’s just a matter of maintaining that momentum and continuing applying pressure on yourself to keep going forward.”
Mentors and Role Models
Asking for help is easier said than done, especially when it comes to your professional life and how it relates to your broader purpose.
But the most brilliant business leaders know that by seeking advice and mentorship, they can smash through perceived limitations and accelerate their results significantly.
“People are not lazy,” said Author and Speaker Tony Robbins. “They simply have impotent goals – that is, goals that do not inspire them. If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you’ll achieve the same results. We can do, have, and be exactly what we wish.”
The truth is that there are so many people willing to help you discover your next step in life, even if it doesn’t seem that way right now. Once again, it requires some effort on your part to begin.
“It can be so empowering just to send an email or make a phone call to someone asking for a bit of input or advice on your situation,” said Mike Pasley, Founder of Famous IRL. “Believe it or not, they’re usually thrilled to help you out. Just talking about your thoughts and giving them a voice can move the dial in a big way.”
Maybe you’ve been thinking of starting a side business, or freelancing for the first time. Why not ask a close friend or coworker what they think?
“Second opinions are like rocket fuel for ideas,” said Eymel Daniel, Co-Founder of ForChics “Bounce those ideas off someone else, and they can take form much more quickly. This is the real power of mentorship and friendship that we often overlook. Nobody will have the perfect answer for you, but they can help you discover the answer for yourself.”
When you climb to the top of your field and live the life you’ve always wanted, just remember to thank these people for inspiring you from the very start!
What’s Stopping You?
Before you get too amped up, keep in mind that passion will come and go, and it’s more important to stay on a sustainable path for the long term. Keep a sense of curiosity, too.
“Passion can seem intimidatingly out of reach at times, but curiosity is a milder, quieter, more welcoming, and more democratic entity,” said Novelist Elizabeth Gilbert. “The stakes of curiosity are also far lower than the stakes of passion. Curiosity only ever asks one simple question: Is there anything you’re interested in? Anything? Even a tiny bit? No matter how mundane or small? The answer need not set your life on fire, or make you quit your job. It just has to capture your attention for a moment.”
With a balanced approach and expectations, anything is possible right now – the best time in history for professional achievement.
“You can be passionate about your career without being a billionaire or being all over the media, so don’t fall into that trap,” said Eric Gist, CEO of Awesome OS. “What matters most is your personal satisfaction with what you do on a daily basis, and the connections you make along the way.”
By now, you’re probably ready to dive in and start pursuing your passion with more intention, even if you don’t know where you’re aiming just yet.