Just as in sports or music, for example, when two people have equal experience and skills, if one has more passion for the job, he or she will inevitably enjoy greater results and greater success. Unfortunately, however, like integrity or authenticity, it is essentially impossible to train someone to be passionate. It’s not even possible to incentivize someone to be passionate because passion has an internal locus—it’s inside. Although it is possible to alter behavior with incentives, that is a different phenomenon.
So, if you can’t train or “buy” passion, what difference does it make to you as a manager or leader? Other than the luck of being passionate or hiring someone who is passionate, what can you do? Well, the reality is that most people feel strongly about something. Even in the workplace, there are some jobs or tasks that will elicit more passion in you or your employees than other jobs or tasks. Likewise, there are some careers that will engender much more passion, commitment and reward than others. Fortunately, it is rarely “too late” to ask for something different, reassign employees or even change careers. If you or someone who works for you does not feel passion for what you do, determine what tasks or position in your current place of employment would provide more reward. If you are convinced that your “true” passion lies elsewhere, then you should evaluate very carefully making a job or career change or suggesting a career change to a subordinate.
Obviously, such a move is not without risk. Moreover, there may be advantages where you are, that, while not particularly enjoyable, are important (benefits, compensation, job security). Keep in mind two important realities as you evaluate the role that passion plays for you or your employees:
1) You only get one shot at life, both professional and personal.
Every day, week, month, and year you spend in a situation in which you don’t feel passion is lost forever and there is no emotion less productive than regret.
2) People perform better and realize more personal reward when they are passionate about what they are doing.
Your own performance is no exception.