By ROSHAN THIRAN
“You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.” – Roman Payne
What does it mean to have a passion? Can you really be passionate about customer service? Can you truly have a passion for human resources (HR) management? Can passion really arise within a person whenever they see a spreadsheet filled with numbers?
The answer to all of the above is: of course. So what does it mean to have a passion? Having a passion means to have such an intense grip on a problem you can’t stop thinking about solving; it means learning about and spending time with that problem as much as possible, and as long as it takes for ideas to manifest on how you might go about finding a solution. It means looking for the excruciating pain points that, when alleviated, provide a much-needed service to others, or makes some kind of positive difference to the society around you.
Some people might find the idea of being passionate about customer service to be a truly dull pursuit. Passion, some might say, is not about solving problems; it’s about discovering what really matters to you and putting your heart and soul into it. But, for some people, delivering great customer service or HR management, or improving numbers that appear on a spreadsheet is what really matters to them. It’s what keeps them up at night as they think, “How can I make the kinds of improvements that will genuinely make a difference?”
An unteachable skill
“It doesn’t matter what you did or where you were… it matters where you are and what you’re doing. Get out there! Sing the song in your heart and never let anyone shut you up!” – Steve Maraboli
What we’re passionate about is, of course, subjective. One person’s passion is another person’s slog – but whatever we do, if we have yet to find our passion, we should find it as soon as possible: great achievements are born from great passion. We can be taught everything else: competencies, problem solving, communication skills, practical skills, networking – they are all teachable, except for passion. That can only come from within ourselves.
We have seen enough research to suggest that much of the world’s workforce is disengaged in the work they do. It’s not challenging enough, it’s monotonous, it’s stressful, it’s demanding, managers fail to offer direction and development, and so on. But what if we worked with others to help them find a passion in what they do, to see deeper meaning and purpose in what they’re helping to work towards?
You might say, “That’s all very well, but not everyone can be a success; we can’t all be passionate about what we do.”
Of course, there will be those who lack the courage to go looking for their passion, while others will remain indifferent to the idea that they should find one in the first place, or even look for it wherever they happen to be. But it’s true: not everyone can be a success and not everyone will discover their passion.
But for those among us who feel that they have the potential to help solve an exceptional problem, or those who already have that niggling desire that won’t leave them alone until they take on that nagging challenge, there is nothing in the world that can offer a more fulfilling and meaningful satisfaction than when you fully engage in your passion – whatever it may be.
Work-life balance or integration?
“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.” – Thomas Merton
Most of us will be aware of the debate over whether we should aim for a work-life balance, or whether we should opt instead for a work-life integration. Personally, I would suggest that the choice is a personal one: we should all be free to choose whether we separate out lives into different compartments, or bring it all together in a way that makes sense to us. I have to say though that, with few exceptions, those who talk about the importance of a work-life balance are usually disengaged from their work (though, I stress, not always); and those who talk about work-life integration are usually those who love what they do. In short, from what I’ve observed, the two concepts could be defined as:
- Work-life balance: A pursuit born from the need to separate a “job” from one’s personal life in order that boundaries can be established to best allow one to regroup, recharge, de-stress, and spend more time on things other than making a living.
- Work-life integration: Where one’s passion is so connected with their core values, beliefs and aspirations that it completely loses the label of “work” or “job”. There is no need to separate “work” and “life” because there is no dissatisfaction and no desire to separate the two. Being engaged in one’s passion already brings a sense of balance – there’s nothing to adjust.
Then question might be asked, “But if we’re so engrossed in our passion, in our work, where’s the time for friends and family, rest and relaxation?” This would be a problem that falls within the work-life balance: having a work-life integration doesn’t mean that every moment is spent on the work; rather, it means to so enjoy your passion that you are able to fit it around your life, which is entirely different than feeling that you have to find time for the important things outside your work. It’s the shift in perspective that makes the difference.
Sense of purpose
In discovering what we’re truly passionate about, we have more zest for life. We can get up every morning – whether it’s a Monday or Friday – and feel the same enthusiasm for whatever we’re trying to achieve. And because we’re so engaged and alive in cultivating a deep sense of purpose, we connect better with everything and everyone else around us, and we magically find the time for everything that matters to us, precisely because we are more attuned, focused and driven, thanks to our passion.
Roshan Thiran is the CEO of Leaderonomics – a social enterprise working to transform lives through leadership development and nurturing potential. Feel free to connect with Roshan on Twitter and on Facebook for more insights into business, personal development, and leadership. For more Be A Leader articles, click here. To know more about our variety of programmes that suit your organisational needs, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries.
Article first published on LinkedIn.