Q: Is Passion Over-rated?

A:  No, but I think it can be misinterpreted.  Read on:

When we work with candidates to prepare them to join the business world, we try to put emphasis on the importance of Passion.    However,  I think our words can easily be misinterpreted.  I say that because when I ask candidates about their career interests, many will say they are not exactly sure about the type of job that they want, but that they have to be passionate about the industry that they join.  For example they may desire a position where they can fuel their passion for the great outdoors, fitness, renewable energy, technology, or wherever their interests may lie.  In fact there is a fairly well known quote that goes:   “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”  That’s an inspiring quote on the surface (teenagers love it!), but also one that lacks a mature perspective.   Just imagine what the world would be like if everyone took that advice to heart:
  • Your trash would never get picked up
  • It would be extremely difficult to find a plumber to fix your toilet
  • We would all freeze because who has a passion to mine coal, chop wood, drill for oil, etc?
  • Butchers sure would be hard to find too
  • If you need more interesting examples go to Dirty Jobs 
Let’s use the trash example.  John Todd, CEO of Alliance Careers, cut his teeth as an entrepreneur by building a hugely successful waste management company. As a West Point graduate, distinguished Black Hawk pilot, aide-de-camp, & company commander in the 82nd Airborne Division, I’m fairly certain he wasn’t dreaming of a career in trash.  Yet, as he found out, it was an industry where he could leverage his natural talents as well as the  skills he developed as an Army officer.  But I think it really came down to his passion to build a successful enterprise that propelled his career and an impressive track record for leading multiple successful business ventures.  As such, he now also has a passion for helping veterans achieve the same kind of success.
So let’s be clear on passion.  It can take many forms. Maybe you developed a passion to serve your country.  That’s a pretty easy thing to get passionate about, right?  Where else will you find a profession where many of its members tatoo their ‘company’ on their body?
USMC Tatoo
But how do you possibly translate that to a passion to join the corporate world? Some examples:
  • Do you have a passion to improve processes?
  • Do you have a passion to bring an organization to new heights?
  • Do you have a passion for solving problems?
  • Do you have a passion to help employees achieve their goals?
  • Do you have a passion to help a company become more profitable?

These are the passions that we mean when emphasizing the importance of passion.  Don’t feel like your life will be unfulfilled if you don’t find a job in an industry that you must be passionate about.   Plus keep this in mind: if you do find a career in an area where you have a natural passion, now your passion has become a chore and a means to a paycheck.  And as such, it may quickly lose its luster.

John Zornick