“Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things.” (Denis Diderot)
The level of passion that I have for something is what makes the difference between good and great for me. If I am passionate about the work I am doing, whether in my job or my personal life, then my performance will soar. When I am without passion for the work, I can still produce well, but I will be limited.
The best example of this in my professional life is how I have approached budget and financial management vs how I have approached risk and issue management within the Project Management disciplines.
I really enjoy working on risk and issue management. I get passionate about making sure that teams have the right skills, and track the right pieces so that their issues get resolved quickly, and their risk management helps minimize surprises. When I was in a job where I helped set and promote standards, these two were my assignment. I came to work eager every day to improve how my company handled these two items. I prepared and delivered seminars on the topic that attracted sizable audiences. I was on fire for making our approach to these two disciplines better for the sake of our projects. My team even videotaped the two key presentations and had them available on demand long before that was a regular practice for delivering training.
The passion I have around risk and issue management is still evident today. When we get to those two items on our status meetings, I am eager and enthusiastic to deliver that portion of the agenda. And, it shows in our results. I have managed to infect my team, and the entire program with my enthusiasm for managing risks and issues correctly.
On the other hand, I do not have passion for financial and budget management. I don’t like working through the details of the numbers, managing contracts and purchase orders, going through mind-numbing reviews of forecasts and the like. Managing the project budget is a very big part of my job, so I spend a lot of time on it. And, my team and I have built a skill set for producing accurate, timely, helpful reports that track our status.
I have a skill for the delivery of the results in budget management, not unlike my skills in issue and risk management; but what is lacking is the passion. As a result, managing budgets becomes an exercise that drains me.
The end results of the two are easy to see in how I look when I get home at the end of the day. When I come home on a day when I have done a risk workshop, or helped my project manage and resolve thorny issues, I am energized. I have a spring in my step and a smile on my face. On the endless days when I come home after spending most of my time on financial management, I am completely drained. I long for time on the couch for a nap, and feel blah the entire evening.
Passion does elevate my soul. When I feel passion, I feel alive. Even when I have had unbridled and somewhat misplaced passion, I have felt that life within me.
I don’t think I will ever be able to fake passion for things I don’t like to do. I might be able to dose up the enthusiasm to get them done, but that boost will never result in me feeling the fire of passion in my heart. And, I don’t think that is a bad thing. I think there are just some things about which I have passion, and others that I do not – just like everyone else in the world. Recognizing where those passions lie, and feeding them feeds my soul. Recognizing where I do not feel passionate allows me to manage those parts of my life, and get through them quickly and efficiently so I can get back to what stirs that inner fire.