My good friend and work-ethic expert, Eric Chester, (author of the fantastic Reviving Work Ethic: A Leader’s Guide to Ending Entitlement and Restoring Pride in the Emerging Workforce) recently shared with me his perspective on the relationship between passion and work.
Please read his words and comment away!
Passion doesn’t fuel work ethic; work ethic fuels passion.
Most people want to go about it backwards. They want to let their passions propel their efforts. They want an emotion-driven life, but our emotions don’t always lead us where we need to go or keep us where we need to be.
You won’t produce heat in your fireplace by saying, “Once there’s a fire, I’ll put in some logs.” You put the logs in and build a fire, and then you’ll see some heat. Likewise, the passion you have for a job is directly related to the initiative you put into it. Many highly successful people in all walks of life have discovered that because they put a great amount of effort into their job, their job eventually becomes their passion. They didn’t set out to be the world’s greatest carpet installer, data entry clerk, or fry cook; they just set out to be the best they could be while in their jobs, and the next thing they knew they were awesome at it!
If a young worker says, “I don’t have a passion for selling shoes,” the first thing he or she needs to do is show some initiative by making selling shoes a short-term passion. If he throws himself into it, does all he can to learn the business and make himself the best, and he still doesn’t develop a passion for the job, that’s fine. He has still improved his reputation for adding value to a job, made himself more hirable, and developed his work ethic in the process. And then he can do his boss and himself a favor and quit. She’ll likely give him a good reference or help him find another position within the organization.
Following up on that line of reasoning (which makes A LOT of sense to me), Eric offers you this advice if you’re feeling disengaged or disenfranchised at work:
1. Do whatever is within your control to eliminate the things that demotivate you. For example, when you’re choosing who to go to lunch with or hang out after work with, surround yourself with coworkers who enjoy their job as opposed to those “Debbie Downers” who are always complaining about the boss, the company, etc. If the break room makes you feel like you are in a jail cell, volunteer to come in on your day off and repaint it or bring in some table games, or posters, or music, etc. In other words, take steps to create a more positive space for you to operate.
2. Get out of the mindset that ‘work sucks’ or that ‘you’re stuck’. This is a free country and no one is making you work where you do. No matter who you are, what skills you currently have, or what you do to earn your daily bread, you have options. You can work harder and perform better in an attempt to get a promotion. You can use your off work time to take classes or improve your skills to move up in your present company or to become more hirable to another. You are in control of your career, so don’t allow yourself to develop a defeatist attitude or you will end up stuck, or worse, fired.
3. Work like you’re showing off. Approach your next shift as if your every move is being video recorded for a worldwide audience and that your parents, kids, friends, and future employers are all tuned-in. If you perform your normal job as you would under these conditions for an entire day, it would be impossible to feel down and disengaged. In fact, it will be impossible for your employers not to notice you. Very soon, you will be the very best at your job, and once you are, you will be promoted, you will see a dramatic increase in your pay, and you will be sought out by other employers. When you are the best at your job, your future is unstoppable.
Shouldn’t we all be?