Finding passion at workI have been thinking a lot lately about career path, job satisfaction, fulfilment and how to stay engaged whilst finding passion in your work.

One reason for this is as a leader of people I have a constant battle to keep employees engaged and thinking big picture for their own self advancement and that of the business. And the second reason, more significantly is for myself. Having a lot of time off since implementing my 4 hour work week has provided me a considerable time for reflection and self discovery.

Recent learnings from great books, insights from my circle of influence and mentors has given me greater clarity about how to think positively about our work and turn our work into passion.

Amy Wresniewski, a professor of organisational behaviour at Yale University, has made a career studying about how people think about their work. Her breakthrough paper explores the distinction between a job, a career, and a calling.

  • A job: is a way to pay the bills, or as Robert Kiyosaki states J.O.B is an acronym for just over broke
  • A career: is a path towards increasingly better work
  • A calling: is work that’s an important part of your life and a vital part of your identity

Most people can strongly identify their work with one of the above three categories, which one are you using to label yours?

An explanation for finding yourself labelling your current work as a job, is that some occupations are better than others. Another reason could be argued that your passions do not line up with your work. So those who love working out and become personal trainers, should have a high proportion of them experience that line of work as a true calling. While less flashy occupations – the ones that no one aspires to or daydreams about – should have almost no one experiencing the work as a true calling.  And yet in my experience and in Wrzenieswski’s research this as proven not to be the case.

In her studies Wrzenieswski’s research has proven a trend indicating that the type of work alone does not necessarily predict how much people enjoy it.

As I have too noticed in my line of work. Having been exposed to 100’s of Personal Trainers over 9 years in the industry, I have witnessed employees with the same position and nearly identical responsibilities from varying demographics and backgrounds, and there is almost always a roughly even split between those seeing their position as a job, a career or a calling.

Many could argue that perhaps being a personal trainer with a high passion for health and fitness would indicate a much higher enjoyment level and therefore increased job satisfaction.  Those who see it as just a job must not have the same level of passion, and begin to dislike the odd hours, client focused nature and business side of the occupation.

However Wrzenieswski upon surveying a large group of administrative assistants of varying backgrounds, discovered the greatest predictor of an assistant seeing their work as a calling was the number of years spent on the job. Essentially the more experience an assistant had, the more likely they were to love their work. Passion takes time!

I was put onto Wrzenieswski’s work through Cal Newport and his marvellous book Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You. Newport believes -with a great argument, that following your passion and only engaging fully when you feel like you have found your calling is dangerous. His books aims to discredit the Passion Hypothesis:  The idea that there is a magic job out there waiting for you and that if you find it, you will immediately recognise it as work you were born to do.

The problem of course Newport states: “is when failing to find this certainty, bad things will follow, such as chronic job-hopping and crippling self doubt.”

I never started out wanting to help people transform their lives through lifestyle choices, nutrition and exercise – I just liked lifting heavy weights and being happy in my own skin, in fact i’d probably be at the Principality of Monaco right now working for Scuderia Ferrari on their F1 car for this weekends F1 Grand Prix – if I was follow my passion I had as a teenager!

Even though today my passion for cars is burning bright, the truth is that over the last 9 years I have built up a huge amount of career capital and skill set. Through my experiences, failures and successes I have become exceptionally good at what I do, which has allowed me to become really passionate about my work. Finding passion in my work, has eventuated in being able to entertain my other passions like owning a Ferrari and having time with my young family.

Whether you decide to venture out on your own, or stay at work with an existing company or business, the key to creating true passion for your work is to become an indispensable resource to other people. No one owes you a great career, you will need to earn it, and the process will not be easy. Put aside the question of whether your job is right for you, or if it is your true passion, and instead focus on becoming world class – so good they can’t ignore you. Regardless of what you do for a living, approach your life like a true performer, this mindset will be the foundation on which you can build a compelling career.

Elliott