A question I often ask job seekers who are looking to change careers is “what are you passionate about”?  I am convinced that the secret of being successful and being content in a job is directly related to how passionate are you about what you are doing.  Unfortunately most people spend more time at work (certainly the waking hours) than anywhere else so it stands to reason that we should enjoy what we do.  Enjoyment however doesn’t necessarily directly equate with passion.  I enjoy a good Amber Ale but I am not passionate about it.

Passion is that motivator that makes you want to give your all.  It makes you put the other person’s needs above your own.  It makes you want to know everything you can about the subject and to be those who share that same desire.  Passion is what sets the top performers apart from the also-rans. Time is not a factor when you are engaged in your passion.

An employee who is passionate about what they are doing believes that what they are doing is the most critical function in the entire operation.  They understand how what they are doing fits into the larger picture and in order for the overall goals to be accomplished they must perform at their highest level.  They desire to be the best, give their all and feel rewarded simply by knowing that they had the opportunity to contribute.  An employer who can find the impassioned employee and who can incorporate their passion into their job will have an employee dedicated and loyal to their job.

I like to study the employees at Starbucks, not to mention their Java Chip Frapachinos.  Starbucks has found a way to hire folks who care about and are passionate their products and their customers. It starts with the questions found on their employment applications, continues throughout their training, challenged by advanced product knowledge and education and recognized by the different apron colors.  Their product is consistent, their staff care and the company is thriving.  Regardless of your political views of big corporations, this company has determined what they are passionate about and knows how to find, train and reward passionate employees.

A favorite interview question of mine is to ask the interviewee what they are passionate about.  Although the response is often the deer in the headlights look, I know that I have hit pay dirt with the person who has previously considered this question and can verbalize their passion in such a way as to enable me to make the connection with what I want to hire them to do.

Likewise a person can make a living and often thrive doing what they are passionate about.  When coaching career changers I try and get them to identify what they are most passionate about and then determine career fields that utilize that passion.  An actual example is the man who after twenty-seven years as a safety professional was laid off and was considering his options.  After significant work he determined that he was most passionate about the outdoors, hunting and fishing.  His safety training and years of experience working with people combined to suggest that a profession as a hunting and fishing guide might be just the ticket. He found out what training and licenses were required then researched and developed a business plan.  He has been living his passion for five years now and could not be happier.

Determine your life’s passion then work to weave it into every part of your life.