Practical Passion – Make Your Dream Happen!

By Sunitha Narayanan

Take charge of your actions to design a life of substance.” Les Brown


A friend recently commented, “People should just learn to like their jobs… this talk about passion…what use is passion when you can be let go at a moment’s notice?” Wow. This statement raised all my defenses and made me go into attack mode as I “told” her what I thought of her comment. After all, I am a coach who believes strongly in helping people create opportunities to do their best work and be joyful about that process. And, isn’t passion essential to create your superlative work? By the time we finished our walk, we had let out steam, vigorously debated her opinion, and for that day, agreed to disagree. However, her comment continued to irritate me like a splinter under a fingernail.


So, what does passion and purpose mean for someone who has conducted an unsuccessful job search for over six months or is unwilling and/or unable to quit a mind-numbing job because of the economy? What does it mean to a high potential who tells me story after story of quantifiable success that made a real difference to the bottom-line of an employer and now is in active transition? Research supports the premise that having meaning and passion in your work positively impacts employee engagement and productivity. Thomas Wright, Jon Wefald Leadership Chair in Business Administration and professor of management at K-State, suggests that employees who have high levels of psychological well-being and job satisfaction perform better. If happiness is a potential valuable tool for maximizing personal and organizational outcomes, why does it remain a philosophical concept in a long, tiring job search or in situations of unhappy employment?


Is it because, in a world of fierce competition, a complex business environment, and a highly fragile economy, answering heartfelt questions on passion and purpose is even more difficult and is perceived as impractical? It is certainly easier to duck, do the work in front of you and go home. I believe pursuing an opportunity that you are passionate about, one that embraces your talents and showcases your values is hard work. I believe it is hard work because:


Here is what I think is happening and will continue to gather momentum. People are having small yet powerful conversations about meaning and purpose in their lives. People are making courageous decisions around work choices that align personal values with productivity. People are slowly yet surely moving from the paralyzing fear of losing a job towards asking, what next? Each person brings a unique set of questions to the process of defining for themselves what part passion and purpose must play in their work lives and how might that show-up in work culture and behaviors. Maybe someone decides to stay in a mind-numbing job to pay bills and continues to work passion and purpose into other areas of life to create abundance and joyful results. What has been your experience in similar discussions?




Sunitha NarayananSunitha Narayanan is a certified career coach with a passion for connecting people and their talents to life and work opportunities. She is a co-active coach, empowering her clients to believe in their dreams, set actionable goals and actively create joy in their work lives. She is with OI Partners Promark Company, a firm that offers executive coaching, leadership development and outplacement services. She can be reached at snarayanan@oipartners.net Learn more about her interests at http://www.linkedin.com/in/sunitha4

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Maggie Davis   on Thursday 11/01/2012 at 11:18 AM

I loved this article. Passion and purpose in my work are what energizes me daily to do the hard parts of the job. Working to make the world a better place, one small adjustment at a time. When that passion and purpose is missing becoming angry, apathetic or restless is a result to be expected. The trick is to find that passion when work is changing, or an organization is in flux. I see friends focus on retirement rather than how to reenergize, because they are caught in their organization. Financially they can't afford to leave. Self reflection is vital, but having someone reflect back to you the difference you make really matters too.

Thank you for a thought provoking article.

Sunitha Narayanan   on Friday 11/09/2012 at 02:55 PM

Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, Maggie.

I agree that when we receive feedback that what we do touches and transforms a life, it is a wonderful drug!

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the individual comment authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of this organization.