“One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900–1944)
The Little Prince
The results you have achieved may be the ticket that opens the door to your next career opportunity, but what lands the deal will be something less tangible and more essential: your passion for your work.
It is ‘strong and compelling feelings’ and a sense of career purpose that will:
- set you apart from others,
- provide the energy needed for ongoing and sustainable success, and
- allow you to emotionally connect with potential colleagues – required for making a sale.
Stories and concrete examples come easily when you passionately talk about your work; these are the behavioral examples and inspiration needed to convince others you can do the job.
However, continued economic woes have worn away at the hopes of many and excitement about work has given way to overwhelm and burnout. The good news is that your ability to maintain energy and enthusiasm for your work can be a distinct competitive advantage!
Your heart-felt, emotional connection with your work must be your guiding light in making career choices, whether you are just entering the workforce or you are a veteran with years of experience.
The biggest threat to loving your work is fear, which may cause you to make career choices where you ‘sell your soul.’ For example, you may make decisions based primarily on money, the need to please others, or in an effort to create certainty and safety.
Fear-based career steps result in aversion to risk and settling for the status-quo – the opposite of passionate engagement! I call this a ‘slippery slope to disengagement’ which starts with saying “I shouldn’t care so much” or “I need to separate work from my personal feelings.” Take several steps along this path and you end-up feeling numb just to survive.
You are the only one who can control the level of passion you feel for your work. It is not useful to focus on your boss, your environment, or your industry as an excuse. You must take your power back from other people and circumstances and take a stand for being your best at work. You can start by being honest with yourself about how you are feeling and what you really want.
The True Self part of the IAMX Compass is a tool you can use to make sure you love your work:
IAMX True Self
The words on the True Self image are the most common I’ve collected in using this tool with thousands of people.
The center of the map, your Best Self, is what it looks like and feels like when you are at your best. It is when you are shining brightly like the sun, energized, confident, and enjoying your work.
Drama is what I affectionately call the challenges that get in the way of you being your best. It is like the dark, grey skies that block the sun, when you feel doubt, worry, or confusion.
When you think about your school or work experiences, how much time do you spend being your Best Self? How much time do you spend in Drama? Be honest and assess: is it 60% at your Best Self and 40% in Drama? Or is the opposite closer to the truth? How do you really feel about your work?
There are two things you need to do to sustain or reclaim your passion for work:
- Focus on your Best Self. Know your values, strengths, and motivations. Make sure you are aware of when you feel alive and passionate about your work. Make choices that increase the amount of time you feel this way!
- Understand Drama. You must face how you really feel and deal with it. Use the challenge of Drama to uncork your emotions and tap into the energy of your passions. Use it to learn, heal, grow, and change
“If we want to reclaim our emotional part of our lives and reignite our passion and purpose, we have to learn how to own and engage with our vulnerability and how to feel the emotions that come with it.”
— Brené Brown Daring Greatly
It’s ironic that the less you feel of negative emotions, the less you feel in general, including passion. You must be vulnerable to the full range of human experience, including feelings, if you are to access the most potent competitive edge there is: being fully alive.
From this perspective, Drama is extremely useful! If you are not experiencing Drama, you are not risking enough, and you are not discovering new depths of aliveness.
Ignoring personal Drama leads to problems in the workplace that can look like:
- Controlling, micromanagement
- Keep busy to avoid feeling
- Unethical behavior
Learn how to focus from and align with your Best Self, understand and learn from Drama, and you have the keys to passionate engagement at work, for yourself and others. There are 5 Career Factors that can guide this process:
- Energy: To what extent are you able to connect with your Best Self energy, and integrate it into your work and life activities?
- Fit: How well do you align your Best Self with your work tasks and work context, setting boundaries to maintain fit over time?
- Focus: How well do you connect your authentic path with a direction that inspires you to overcome the difficulties of Drama, and meet the needs of others?
- Relevance: How well do you align your Best Self with a path of lifelong learning, while you turn change into opportunity, create impact, and generate results?
- Environment: How well does your work environment support you functioning at your Best Self?
To increase your passionate engagement with your work, assess yourself against these 5 Career Factors so you can have a realistic view of your situation. You will want to know where you are strongly aligned with your Best Selft, and where you might have some Drama to learn from, including obstacles such as feeling like you have limited choices, difficult colleagues, or not enough time.
You deserve to love your work, and you can be happy and fulfilled in your career by simply following the steps outlined here. You can assess your situation by responding to the questions above or by taking our free True Self Assessment to develop a clearer picture of what’s going on. Once you have accurate data, you can make adjustments.
Passion, purpose, and your sense of being alive are essential in life and work. The person who brings this life-force energy most fully to their work is the person who will have the competitive advantage.
Questions or comments about passionate engagement as the new job security? Please add your thoughts below…