Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
October 29, 2009 4:00 PM

Loving What You Do

"Passion" is one of those words that is thrown around in every motivational business book. It's a big word, and most simply don't have it. 

If you have ever read a book on what the best and brightest have done to become as successful as they are, one of the core underlying themes is that they were either pursuing their passion or were simply so perfect at what they were shooting for that it comes off to the rest of us as passion. The counter to that thought is that if you are driven by the almighty dollar, you can't be passionate as well.

Why?

In a past life, I was a music journalist. My job was to interview many of the more popular rock bands, write reviews, concert critiques, etc... On a few instances I was able to interview Gene Simmons from the rock band KISS (full disclosure: I was a huge fan of the band growing up... and I'm still a proud member of the KISS Army). With the thousands of interviews I conducted over the decade-plus of my life in the music industry, it was one thing that Simmons said that always stuck with me. When asking him about how he feels about the business side of KISS, he stated simply: "I'm pissed at a nickel because it isn't a dime."

Clearly, you can be passionate about money and love what you do as well.

The sad reality is that well over 90% of our society doesn't have that passion for the work they do (I made that percentage up, it is probably higher). Forget passion, the majority of people probably don't even like what they do for a living. It's important to remember this. You and I have passion. If people are reading industry Blogs on their own time, listening to Podcasts and trying to engage in these channels - even when the company that employs them questions on the online world, there has to be some kind of passion. It's much easier to just go home, plop yourself on the couch, turn on the tube (not the YouTube), crack open a beer and forget the day that just passed while not focusing on the days that will follow.

Those people - and they may even be your superior at work - will always try to bring you down.

That's a lie. They're not trying to bring you down. They're trying to get you to feel as miserable as they feel, so that they can commiserate with you. The ones that break free are the ones who don't utter sentences like, "I'm just doing my job," "I'm new here," "because that's the way it has always been," and "let's leave everything as is and let my successor rock the boat." Without sounding like a motivation Blog post, it's your job to keep at it. It's your job to push forward. It's your job to "do the right thing," and it's your job to make sure that you go to bed every night filled with energy and chomping to get at the days ahead.

You're going to spend more than half of your life working if you add up all of those hours.

Your job isn't to get paid to do work. Your job is to constantly work at loving what you do more and more. Those who embrace that type of mindset (regardless of position, stature, industry and compensation) are the ones who not only get ahead, but the ones who are happy - at work, home and in their community.

Do you really love what you do? Are you working at loving it more and more everyday? 

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Mitch Joel

    Spoken like someone who has true passion. Great post Mitch.

    Reply
  • Posted by Ned Kumar
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch - loved the topic and a great post. You are absolutely right about most folks working for money rather than for passion -- but then I cannot blame all of them-- Maslow's hierarchy of needs :-).

    One thing I have noticed though is that while passion does not impact money (you can be passionate and poor or if you lucky passionate and rich), having too much money sometimes kills passion (when all material needs are satisfied and then some, the mind sometimes becomes lethargic and you lose the edge).

    Regards,
    Ned

    Reply
  • Posted by pierre
    Mitch Joel

    Great post. I think we have to remember we're lucky, very lucky. We have passion for something that gives great rewards, including the fact you can make good money off it (consulting, selling services or products). I have a friend who's passionate about modern dance and she'll never be able to live off it. And she knows it. So she got a job but still attend classes and dances whenever she can.

    Also, if you work in the web and you are not passionate about it, it's literally impossible to stay in this industry/environment because everything changes so fast. So again, we are very lucky!

    Reply
  • Posted by Patrick Lyver
    Mitch Joel

    Great blog Mitch. I'm fortunate enough to be one of those few who love what they do and are passionate about it. There are times at night that I'm so excited to get into work the next morning that I can't sleep.

    Patrick Lyver
    Kleurvision Inc.

    Reply
  • Posted by Dave Delaney
    Mitch Joel

    Hi Mitch,
    I'm one of the lucky ones. I love working with Griffin Technology. The company understands the need for someone to manage their social media, they encourage and support me when I want to try new things.

    Not only that, but the company creates incredible products. It's so nice to be somewhere where anyone can present new ideas. We're all involved with new products at some point in the process.

    It's fun to see an idea thought of and that idea born into an actual product. Here's a cool example: http://bit.ly/xar4V.

    Keep up the great work Mitch. I finally got a copy of your book, and now I just need to find some time to read it. I'm looking forward to it!

    Cheers

    Reply
  • Posted by Jasmyn Madison
    Mitch Joel

    Thank you for the article. I have been thinking about leaving my industry to get into graphic design for a while now. This year, I finally started taking classes and I absolutely, positively, unequivocally love it!

    There is so much to be said for waking up everyday to go to a job or do something you love. I wish that more people could do it!

    Reply
  • Posted by Pamela Hackett
    Mitch Joel

    I agree whole heartedly with all you say - I hope you will pick up a copy of my book, hitting Amazon in January it's called getGruntled! Your No.1 Priority at Work. It speaks to a lot of your points.

    Great to see it's top of mind for so many people. The surveys all repeat it: 70% of the workforce is unhappy at work. Scary stats. May we all getGruntled!

    Reply
  • Posted by James
    Mitch Joel

    A great post, waking up and loving what you do is very easy to approach. I love what I do daily because I get to to help other make a difference in their life. Awesome thought here Mitch

    Reply
  • Posted by Derek
    Derek

    Mitch, It's nice to be reminded about passion because sometimes we get so indulged in our work that we forget what it is we truly love about "it". I also love your rock references since I was playing around LA in the early 90's. Keep it up!
    oh...LOVE the book!

    Reply
  • Posted by Yuen Loong Ngui
    Mitch Joel

    Where have you been all my life? LOL
    I generally maintain a reasonably high level of passion in my work. And I really do enjoy what I am doing as the MIS Manager in my company.
    I just hope I can say the same about my church life.

    Reply
  • Posted by thinker
    Mitch Joel

    Very passionate Mitch! I've always been a believer about passion as one of the main ingredients of a persons happiness towards work, home, religion, interest and community.Keep it up.

    Reply
  • These isn't a day that goes by that I don't take the time to be grateful for being in that small minority of people that "love what they do" Coming from working class parents who did what they had to do, I too have worked hard, but have always maintained that without passion, worthwhile goals can never be achieved. At least that has been my experience, and I try to pass that on to as many people as I can, my 6 yr old son included. Thanks for your great blog- I'm a regular reader but this one hit a chord.

    Reply
  • Posted by Susan Hurrell
    Mitch Joel

    YES! And - enthusiasm and passion will spread if the work culture allows people to grow. Passion attracts passion - so the fully engaged can commiserate with the fully engaged and create peer support even if upper levels are not as tuned in or turned on.

    I am fortunate to work for a small but dynamic company where the passion dynamic is flipped around - 90% of the Earthlings are fully committed to "doing the right thing" and more importantly - LEARNING what that right thing is. We are fortunate to have visionary leadership that inspires us to do everything we can to "eclipse the ordinary." Thanks for a great post - as always. Enjoy the day.

    Reply
  • Posted by Kyle McGuffin
    Mitch Joel

    Thank you Mitch for reminding us to believe in ourselves and realizing that passion driven people are not the norm. We live at a time where we can achieve anything we want if we have a goal and passion. Great job with the book. A must read if you have passion.

    Reply
  • Posted by Deni Kasrel
    Mitch Joel

    Here, here, Joel,

    This is so true. There is an old cliche about if you love what you do for work, it isn't really work (or something like that). I don't buy that entirely -- some work is work whether you love it or not, but yes, having a passion for what you do makes a tremendous difference in your attitude and the outcome of your effort. You are so right about going to bed filled with energy and having the drive to do more.

    When you love what you do people can feel it and that often means they will want to be part of the same energy sphere.

    In one of my former lives I was a jazz journalist. Even if you're a big name in this realm it's tough to make a living. But these cats, as they still call one another, are devoted to their artform, both for their own personal needs and to share with others. They feel fulfilled in their lives.

    As you note, those who combine passion with work are happier. If more people lived their lives this way, society as a whole would be a lot better off.

    P.S. Ditto on enjoying your new book.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Hi Mitch,
    Thanks for your thoughts on this issue. I have written two posts about you on my blog recently. In them, I mention what a passionate man you are and what I imagine is your love of life and people. It all starts there. When you love life and you love people, you get energy that enables you to make the moves you need to make yourself happy. I would imagine you this way. I really enjoyed the book and I wish you ongoing success and continued happiness. I will keep on reading and listening to you for a long time.

    Reply
  • Posted by Syed Akram
    Mitch Joel

    To succeed, you must love the boring things that you do! Great post Mitch.

    Reply
  • Posted by Donna Papacosta
    Mitch Joel

    Excellent post, Mitch. I feel so fortunate to love what I do, and the clients and colleagues I work with, who share my passion. I practically leap out of bed each day, excited about what's ahead. OK, MOST days!

    Reply
  • Posted by Adam Singfield
    Mitch Joel

    A predecessor of mine once left me with some less than encouraging words when I asked why he had decided to leave his job. "It's just too many hours, man. Got to the point where I had no life... you gotta work to live not live to work."

    What ever happened to "find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life" (Confucius, I think)?

    Reply
  • Posted by Matt Searles
    Mitch Joel

    I think the passionate about money thing is interesting.. I'm an artist.. and among artists this can be a little bit of a taboo.. but more it's just the kind of culture of it.. there's that feeling that the greatest artists are the one's who could never quite come to piece with the world.. there roll was to wrestle with the shadow side of it all.. that was there great service.

    To become great.. I think.. as much as possible you have to make it about what you're passionate about.. that this is an engine of self development. The usual reason why you wouldn't make it about money is because passion.. and I really mean something deeper that passion.. more like Bliss.. which is more like a sense of vocation.. in the old catholic sense.. this idea "what were you put on this earth to do." This takes you in directions that have nothing to do with where the market place is today.. but do have something to do with a deeper sense of self development.. spiritual development.

    In the Tarot deck there's a card called "the fool." The fool has quit this world.. and all the considerations of the world are over taking him it would seem.. but he's not even here.. he's turned to that deeper inward thing.

    This is all a part of a journey that was pretty well mapped out by Joseph Campbell.. and for every time I hear someone in business talking about passion.. or in a business book.. I nearly always want to scream "read Campbell for christ sake!"

    I believe that we ALL have amazing potentials.. and very few of us realize them.. that we can all become amazing.. and I think you really hit the nail on the head as far as it being about.. being into what you're doing.. because if you live you're life that way.. just by virtue of that.. you're a light in the world.. you know? Giving hope to people that the career part of your life doesn't have to be all chore..

    This post def inspires me to think more about what I do as something to work on loving. I wonder if I can learn to love the hard parts.. the struggling with self doubt.. for surely there's silver linings in it all.. When I feel like what I'm doing.. there is no hope of making it great.. and struggle through.. and find my self in a place of awe over what's been created.. I need to take that lesson more to heart.. more deeply. And apply that to all the obstacles in my life.

    Reply
  • Posted by Carmen Moore
    Mitch Joel

    Great post. Glad I read it when I did. I have a question though. I'm a partner in a business that just started about a year ago. It's my first venture as an entrepreneur too. I was always an employee until now (always a passionate one too ;-).

    I'm overflowing with passion about every aspect of this business, what we do, what we sell and what we stand for and I'm totally in love with my role within this organization. Trouble is, business isn't going well. Hasn't been going well for a long time now. But I don't have a dime left to invest in the Co.

    My question is, at what point does common business sense trump passion? Does it ever?

    Thanks.

    Reply
  • Posted by Alison Cummings
    Mitch Joel

    I couldn't agree more. Passion is underrated.

    A great leader must have vision, but it is the passion for that vision that gets people to commit and be fully engaged. And passionate employees are a valuable, often rare asset. Especially in today's environment.

    But not all companies have the confidence to encourage passion in their people, and are a bit afraid of it. Sadly, that fear contributes to a climate of insecurity and leads to mediocrity at best.

    The responses to your post illustrate how individual passion fuels the collective engagement and sense of community that make the Web such a successful, vibrant medium.

    And how lucky we all are to be a part of it.

    Reply
  • Posted by Mike Kujawski
    Mitch Joel

    The saddest thing to me is that most people seem to think that simply "tolerating" their job is normal. I think the problem also lies in the term "work". Personally, I don't like the word.To most people it is associated with some sort of forced effort , be it physical or mental , which they must go through in order to feed their families and attain material possessions (i.e. work = bad, not working= good). The vast majority of the population firmly believes in this, as is evidenced by the whole notion of retirement. I've met many people that are just starting their careers, or half way through them and already they can't think of anything but retirement. To me this is sad. Of course, money helps. However, it comes much more naturally and in greater abundance when your passion shines through and overpowers your work. The way I see it, I don't "work", I simply act on my passions in both my personal and professional life. I will continue to do so as long as I can. Great post Mitch.

    Reply
  • Posted by Laural
    Mitch Joel

    Great post! And motivating. This is why I read your blog. Because you remind me that it's worth fighting for the stuff you're passionate about! well said. And so true!

    Reply
  • Posted by Jim Quance
    Mitch Joel

    Great topic. At the core of passion (at least for me), is the personal drive to make a "difference". And depending where you are at in your life, it need not be a huge, earth shattering difference. Just a difference. Passion drives the the core value to work hard to make a difference. Making a difference, drives passion. It's one of the best circular processes I've come across. Funny thing, it works!

    Reply
  • Posted by Andrew Lindemann
    Mitch Joel

    Love the post Mitch. You bring up some really good points, because without passion, what force drives us to be better people and make a difference in this world? My question is this--I am a college student graduating this coming spring. I've begun to touch on things I believe I'm passionate about, but how does one truly distinguish this feeling? How does that feeling hit you, because really I just want to be inspired, motivated and challenged everyday. Sometimes the weekly grind of college classes can bog me down and cut off my light source, so any advice is appreciated. And I guess my question can even be applied to a broader scale--What does one do when they've been cut off from their desired actions and forced into a difficult situation? How do you maintain your passion and keep fighting to better your world when your bogged down by other inconsequential but necessary things?

    Andrew

    Reply
  • Posted by Doug Haslam
    Mitch Joel

    The question at the end of your post- we should put it in our diary/calendar and remember to ask ourselves periodically. Sometimes the answer changes- the company changes m, the job changes, the industry changes- you change.

    Those of us lucky enough to be able to steer our careers into love and passion should be able to answer in the affirmative or get ready to move.

    Reply
    • Posted by Dara Bell
      Mitch Joel

      I agree with Doug, that you are in constant flux of change or a constant process and you and your desires just stay the same. A desire to be fullfilled and happy, is a fairly powerful driving force and should rank highly up there as a career fuel.

      Reply
    • Mitch Joel

      I just set up Hootsuite to ask me this question once a month over the next year. I'll probably not expect it when the question happens.

      Reply
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    Mitch Joel

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