When it comes to work, it’s natural to think of passion as a function of what you do. We speak easily of passion for an activity or topic of interest, like when we say, ‘he’s passionate about photography’ or ‘she’s passionate about design.” As a consequence, many of us wonder if passion isn’t limited to a few driven, talented or just plain lucky professionals. But is finding that thing you really love to do the only way to bring passion to your workday?
Not according to a short but interesting piece Alexandra Levit recently posted to her blog, Water Cooler Wisdom. In it, she comments on a book by Richard Chang, called The Passion Plan, which draws a distinction between two kinds of passion:
The Passion Plan describes passion as both content-based (activities like writing, hosting events, or racing cars) or context-based (themes like innovation, nurturing, and risk-taking). Chang says that we can experience both types of passion in our work, and can often find ways to weave our passions into a current job without making a drastic career change.
It’s a powerful idea for those struggling in a job they find less than enthralling. Rather than spend your time daydreaming about making a career change to another gig that suits you better, why not attempt to alter the context of your current job? You could push not only for more of the type of tasks you like best, but also more freedom in terms of where and when you work (and whom you have to interact with regularly), as well as more learning and development to ensure you feel both autonomous and nurtured. Of course, that won’t work if your boss is an inflexible ogre, but these types of changes may be a possibility in many workplaces — you won’t know until you try.
For those struggling to enjoy their jobs, changing how they work may be far more manageable than changing what they do, but the idea that context sometimes trumps content is also a powerful one for managers looking to get the most out of their teams. You may not be able to change what your employees need to get done, but by making changes to the environment in which work is accomplished, you may be able to create a more passionate, and therefore more productive, workforce.
When it comes to passion for work is context as important as content?
Image courtesy of Flickr user Piratex.