Some people say you should always follow your passion when choosing a career for fear of taking the wrong path and realising too late you have spent your life pursuing the wrong profession. However, just as many people allow their passions to fall by the wayside to chase a career that will enhance their status and their earnings to fit with the expectations laid upon them by well-meaning family and friends. Quite frankly, it is true that we all must earn a living to support ourselves and not many of us can afford the navel-gazing luxury of taking the time to figure out what exactly we were put on this Earth to accomplish. But when you spend a third of your entire life at work, can you really afford to not to do something that you love?
Learn more about WilsonHCG's DNA in article #4 of our corporate culture series on [Integrity].
It’s time to bust the myth that finding your passion risks following a career with few prospects for earning potential, and I draw on my own experiences at WilsonHCG to help suggest ways in which you can channel your personal passions into your current career and answer the question we all face at some point in our lives which is how to love your job.
Find meaning in your work
There is a common misconception that in order to follow your passion, you must become an unpaid street artist, or a musician or compete in the fiercely competitive field of professional football, where many people fail to ever forge a career for themselves. When I was starting out, I never expected to forge a career that I felt genuinely passionate about in the recruitment industry. Fortunately, I couldn’t have been more wrong. For me and my colleagues, recruitment is not just about putting “bums in seats”. In fact, our industry is highly people-oriented and I found my passion for work in learning what makes people tick. I have become a small part of the never-ending #recruitment Twitter conversation, made up of like-minded individuals who discuss the intricacies of the constantly shifting social recruiting landscape. We’re always on the forefront of the hot topics in global employment such as diversity recruitment and workplace equality. For me, I found my passion for recruitment when I began to understand the greater meaning of the work we do and how it can benefit our society as a whole. Passion is the foundation block from which success in every other career area is built, regardless of your job role or industry, and I feel very privileged to be working for a company who shares these values with me.
Without the red thread of passion running through everything you do in your career, it can be tough to find the internal motivation to fuel your day-to-day work activities. One way that you can find your passion is by understanding and appreciating the greater purpose of your individual role and of the company and industry as a whole.
Work with passionate people
Something that is almost more important to me than my own passion for the work that I do is the passion of my colleagues and teammates. Working in an environment of positivity helps to breed better collaborative working practices — and all organisations are essentially just teams of people working alongside each other. By working better together as one collaborative team, the organisation is far more likely to succeed in the long run, and so are you. And likewise, if you bring your passion to work with you, your colleagues are more likely to respond positively, and are therefore more likely to be inclined to help you too. At WilsonHCG, my teammates in both sales operations and marketing are located all over the globe, and they are among some of the most passionate people I know. The positivity and enthusiasm that they bring to the table fuels me to want to succeed on their behalf. We learn together as a collaborative group and we celebrate together when we achieve something new.
If you aren’t currently part of a particularly collaborative team, take a look around your company and identify those individuals who are genuinely passionate about what they do. Align yourselves with those people by joining the committees that they members of, or by becoming part of an extracurricular project that they are working on. Catch a dose of their infectious passion!
Take note of business leaders
Your organisation’s senior leadership has a direct effect not only on your success, but on the success of the company as a whole. John Wilson, CEO at WilsonHCG, shares regular company updates with the entire company, and he often talks about the importance of maintaining our company culture. The passion cultivated by our leadership team to keep our culture alive filters down to employees at all levels, and consequently there are exciting employee-driven culture initiatives being launched all the time, such as the WilsonHCG employee engagement committee, which run fun campaigns for global employees to share a bit of themselves and get to know people they wouldn’t otherwise work with.
Which leaders in your organisation exude passion? Identify the goals of your most passionate business leaders and see which of these goals align with your own set of values, and which you could see yourself getting excited about too. Could you get involved with, or help to create, initiatives that support this new-found goal?
Take ownership of your career
Employees who are passionate about what they do, own what they do. They take responsibility for their own role and they do what they can to make a difference for both their organisation and for their colleagues. One of the things that I love about WilsonHCG is that every employee is actively encouraged to take ownership of their job and their career. Everyone is given the tools they need to be successful, and once you give someone a task, they care about making sure that their work is high quality because it’s something they’re proud of — a very different attitude to some other workplaces.
Are you doing your job to the best of your ability? Taking ownership of your career means forging a better career for yourself. It would be naïve to think that you can be passionate about every small task handed to you, especially when you’re just starting out. However, if you’re passionate about developing your career you’ll take ownership of every task, regardless of how mundane it might be, because you know that every piece of work you touch will bear your signature, and that in itself is a reason to excel.
Always act with integrity
Integrity has become a bit of a corporate buzzword, and the word is thrown around by many organisations, not all of whom have always shown themselves to act with integrity in everything they do! In my experience, those who have a real passion for their work stick with it because they love what they do, and are more concerned with excelling on behalf of their clients and stakeholders than in taking shortcuts for their own personal gain.
The most basic element of integrity is being true to yourself and to your principles. Uncovering your passion is a key component of self-discovery, and indulging in your passion is an authentic expression of your true self. Ask yourself if your work is a true expression of your own true self, and whether your work is aligned with your principles. If the answer is no to any of these questions, then you may find it difficult to realise your passion because there is a conflict between your job and the very thing that makes you a moral individual. Never compromise your integrity for the sake of a paycheque!
Become aware of what you’re communicating
Without even realising it, we all give off non-verbal cues as to whether we are passionate about what we are doing and these cues will be picked up by managers, reports and leaders alike. Your non-verbal communication affects the way your colleagues see you and communicate with you, in the same way that the non-verbal communication of others affects how you see them on an unconscious level.
Ultimately, it might be possible to give passion lip service by saying all the right things, but it is far more difficult for us to show conviction when the non-verbal cues all point in one direction. We are all adept at reading body language, and we spend a lot of time getting to know our colleagues and their telltale signals. If you really have tried everything and you still can’t muster up at least one element of your career that allows you to channel your personal passions, then chances are that you’re not fooling anyone else either. It might be time to consider looking into a new role, a new company, a new industry or a new career. After all, you spend a third of your life at work — can you really afford to not to do something that you love?