The Passion Of Work

February 13, 2011

With Valentine’s Day just a heartbeat away, this post about the passion of work is probably not what you might expect. I hope everyone finds a job someday that they love and want to devote themselves to; however, too many of us experience a different passion at work.

Passion originated as a term to convey suffering. The passion of work for many of us is more about patience and fortitude than it is about vigor and absorption.

The passion of crappy work or a lousy boss can transform you if you let it. The persistent pressure can make you hard, bitter, and resistant, or it can make you soft, detached, and abused.

You don’t have to allow the passion to transform you. You can instead resolve to assume responsibility for trying to partner with others at work to transform the causes of your suffering. Don’t wait to be invited, and don’t expect to be applauded.

Give yourself permission to devote your head, hands, and heart to continuously improving your capacity to continuously improve the systems that drive the work that you do and choose to supplant your passion with purpose.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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Comments (14)

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  1. Bret,
    Great post. I really like how you let people see that they have a responsibility to take some ownership at their work for the good and the bad. Too many people want to play the blame game, instead of taking ownership and making true progress. Purpose is powerful, thanks for the uplifting courage.


    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    I think many folks do that because they never learn to behave differently. Leaders accept it and all too often model the way of blaming people instead of fixing systems. Thanks, Greg! Bret

  2. Clementt says:

    Good Post, i go through this everyday at work. now i am trying to find ways to make me sucessful and build my personal power.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Clementt. Good for you for trying to find personal power in a bad situation. Everything changes, eventually. Bret

  3. Jim Taggart says:

    Well expressed, Bret. Your concluding, eloquent paragraph says it all, and immediately brought to mind what Egyptians achieved through passion, purpose and commitment. They took far more risks and had much more at stake than we North Americans who tend to take for granted our relative freedoms.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Hi Jim, at first I thought you were talking about the Egyptians that built the pyramids, but realized you were talking about the ones that toppled their government. Easy to applaud them now, but they put up with bad stuff way too long. Thanks! Bret

  4. Bret, that’s a great post! It’s a bit weird, actually, that I’ve written an article on exactly the same topic today – Work as job, career or vocation. When you turn that passion you are talking about into purpose and have a chance to really use your best qualities at work, then it might actually stop feeling like work altogether – it’s just a part of you, that you enjoy on an equal footing with all other great things in your life.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Not sure it was clear, Alis, but I was talking about passion in a different way in my post. But I agree with your thoughts. Thanks! Bret

  5. Neal Ely says:

    So much of our lives will be spent at our jobs, working with others. It’s frustrating that so many people never put any heart or passion into their jobs. How we interact with others at work is an opportunity to make a difference in their lives and in our communities. We all have to be reminded of this, because work isn’t always easy!

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    I was talking about passion in a different way, Neal, but I do so strongly agree with your comment. Work is hard – that’s why it’s called work! Thanks, Bret

  6. Beth says:

    Hi Bret,

    Personally, I made a promise to myself about ten years ago that I will never again allow myself to be a victim. I learned the hard way that when it comes to abuse, there are only three possible responses:
    – leave immediately (a must if it’s a truly toxic situation), or
    – plan your exit strategy and choose a launch window that works to your benefit, or
    – stay — but only to accomplish a well-defined and executable higher goal (read: not a hopeless situation).

    Don’t try the last one unless you have a pretty decent sanity support network — that is, other trusted people in your life who can help you stay balanced and who believe in your really good reason to hang in, but will sound the alarm if you start to burn out or start to exhibit Stockholm syndrome.

    Suffering can indeed serve a purpose. But my advice is, don’t go through that “passion” unless you have an underlying rock-solid purpose that you can be passionate about, and the resources to carry it off.

    Just my take.

    – – Beth

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    I so strongly concur with the leave immediately. Surprisingly, lots of folks don’t want to hear that – would rather have excuses to stay. Do your best to make things better and if you can’t, move on. Thanks, Beth! Bret

  7. Tracey says:

    Hi Bret-

    Thank you for this post. I’ve come back to it a few times. It’s a good reminder to people that they do have the power to transform their situation they’re in both by action and by attitude.

    I like to see our team watching out for each other as some times people just get stuck when there’s a simple fix.

    It’s funny how many times the “new kid” will notice things others don’t see in their daily challenges. We tend to get tunnel vision.

    So thank you again for the reminder!

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Tracey. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Bret