Last week I described a process I have developed to help my clients evaluate where they are in their career development and what decisions they need to make about the future. I talked about four key questions people should ask themselves when making career decisions. The first question is: Are you passionate about what you are doing in your current job? If not, what type of work would make you feel more passionate?
For several years I have worked with Roger Newton, who is CEO of Esperion Therapeutics. Roger clearly knows what his passion is: finding a cure for heart disease. His first efforts resulted in the development of Lipitor. Now, through Esperion, he is continuing his pursuit. This year, Esperion has completed a successful initial public offering (IPO) raising $74.9 million in net proceeds. Roger’s work is an example of what can be achieved if you continually follow your passion.
Here are a few ideas on how to understand your passion at work:
- What do you deeply care about? For example: What do you read about? Talk about? Think about?
- Notice what brings you the most joy in life. This is a key clue to understanding your passion.
- Ask yourself “When I have had a great day, what was I doing and what was I not doing?”
- Over your lifetime, what is the theme of activity that has always resulted in you being highly engaged?
- What topic most evokes a strong emotional reaction? Passion is about emotion.
- If you ask other people, what do they think you are passionate about? You might consider sending an email to people who know you well to ask them what they see you most passionate about.
- As a friend recently pointed out, the root of the word “passion” is “to suffer”. Ask yourself, what are you willing to “suffer” for in order to achieve a result? I always tell myself that anything worth achieving requires facing distinct difficulty, experiencing internal struggle, and facing risk.
Once we figure out what it is we are passionate about, we should take the time to make sure our career is in alignment with this passion. When we engage in work that is not fulfilling, or something we don't feel strongly about, it is easy to become complacent and stagnant. Not only does this hinder our own personal growth, but the growth of your company as well.