What is passion?

What is passion?

I was listening to Sirius Satellite radio the other day and comedian and writer Greg Behrendt, the author of the book “He’s Just Not That Into You,” was doing his stand-up routine. He was saying that the reason most of us dread work is that we think of our jobs as boring. In contrast, he described rock stars as people to also have jobs, but infuse so much passion into their jobs that they actually become rock stars.

That got me thinking about super-star athletes. Think about how many people pay enormous amounts of money to watch grown men drive a car in a circle (NASCAR), hit a white ball in a round hole (golf), hit each other (boxing or MMA), put a ball through a hoop (basketball), hit a ball with a stick (baseball), or hit the guy that is carrying the ball or chasing the puck (football and hockey).

Why do we do that? I think the answer is simple; we gravitate to people that have passion in their lives. Unfortunately, it is so rare that, in order to get a glimpse of it, we are willing to pay for it.

So what is passion? Passion is a strong and barely controllable emotion. When I go to Urbandictionary.com, I find this definition: “Passion is when you put more energy into something than is required to do it. It is more than just enthusiasm or excitement; passion is ambition that is materialized into action to put as much heart, mind body and soul into something as is possible.” I especially like the part that says “passion is ambition that is materialized into action.” So the basic question is, why don’t we have passion for our work? Why aren’t we all rock stars at work? Why aren’t we all like Sydney Crosby, the athlete in the picture, demonstrating passion and celebrating after scoring a goal.

In fact, I think we are more like athletes than we think. It takes 10,000 hours of practice and playing for a person to become an elite athlete. Now, it’s time to realize that many of us have easily put in 10,000 hours of training for and working at our profession. We did our undergraduate degree, obtained a master’s degree, and did an internship, all to get the job we have now. Next, athletes work on teams. We all work on teams. Lastly, many athletes realize it could all be taken away in an instant (mostly due to injury). However, given our see-saw economy, so too could our profession. Given this similarity, what happened? Where is our passion?

I think super star athletes practice what I call “the Triad”.

One, they celebrate everything. Picture a game, any game. If an athlete makes any type of non-routine play, there are high fives, fists bumps and a variety of other displays of emotion. Ever think why? Simple, what they do is hard work. If a baseball player gets a hit, he just beat nine other players. The entire defense is there with one purpose: to stop the offensive player from scoring. So no wonder when the soccer player on the other team makes a goal, they celebrate their defense by running around, taking off their shirt and doing flips. They and their teammates recognize that it is hard work to prevent a goal.

Two, they own up to their mistakes. We see it all the time. A player is wide open, perfect pass, no one is around, and they drop the ball. When that happens, they tap their chest and mouth “my bad.” Why do you think they do that? Because they want to acknowledge that they let their teammates down. Third, they move on to the next play. Games and matches are so fluid that teams and players do not have time to dwell on the last play. In short, they understand the lesson and move on.

So what do we do? In the workplace, we rarely celebrate on a regular basis. At best we wait until the end of the project and, at that point everybody is so tired, that they don’t even attend the celebration. In addition, we rarely own up to our mistakes. Finally, many of us are still taking about issues that happened five or 10 years ago, instead of focusing on possibilities now.

My advice: try becoming an elite athlete at work. As you walk into the office, play theme music in your head and announce to your team or staff that you are in the building. Find moments to celebrate and make the time to do it. Admit when you make a mistake, digest what you learned, and move on to the next play.

Believe me, these small steps will help you to rekindle that passion for your job and your work.

Posted April 22, 2015