4 Ways to Leverage Your Passion

About five years after I started Inspirion, my business suddenly wasn’t doing well, and I couldn’t figure out why. So, I picked up a CD by Steve Siebold, who’s among the top three percent of highest-earning speakers globally, thinking I could learn a few things from him. As I listened in my car, he said, “Whatever topic you choose, you better love it so much that you can’t wait to read about it, talk about it … you go to bed thinking about it and wake up excited to learn more about it.”

That struck a nerve. I stopped the CD. “Now listen,” I said to Steve, as if he could hear me. “I’ve written a best-selling book on generational diversity. I’ve been speaking on this topic for years. Who cares if I’m no longer rushing out of bed to learn more about generation gaps in the workplace? There’s only so much one can read on the topic!”

Of course, Steve didn’t answer. So, I considered whether he might be right; maybe I needed to grow my topic into a greater message that did excite me. I tried asking my clients, friends and colleagues to help me articulate my “it” factor – what I’m great at and how I provide value. I got lots of answers, but none that evoked that kind of excitement.

Then, one day, I told my neighbor, Antoine, that he was handsome. When he blushed a little and said, “Nah,” I responded, “Antoine, do you know that when you reject my compliment, you teach everyone around you to do the same? And when you accept it, you teach them to do that.”

“That’s powerful,” he said. “And it’s simple.”

“Yeah, that’s me,” I said. “Simply powerful.”

“Hey, that’s the title of your next book!” he said.

Better yet, I was looking for a new company tagline. “What do you think of ‘Simply. Powerful. Leadership.’?” I asked.

 “I’d want to know more.”

 “Antoine, it’s been nice chatting,” I said and then literally ran back to my apartment to apply for the trademark.

My passion was suddenly re-ignited. I’m excellent at simplifying leadership – not that leadership is easy, but it is certainly simple. For example, a vastly under-utilized but extremely effective way to motivate employees of all ages is showing them you care. It’s simple; yet, few leaders do it.

Suddenly, I understood what Steve Siebold meant about how combining my interests and passion with a clear need in the marketplace would provide me with new opportunities. After all, if I’m not excited about my topic, it’s difficult to be innovative and get clients excited about the solutions I offer – which makes it difficult to sell. Now that I’m clear about my passion and value, I’m getting the opportunities I want again.

Ready to reignite your passion for your career? Here’s where to start:

  1. Listen to yourself. Pay attention to how you feel when working with different types of leaders and performing various tasks. Acknowledge when the work does (and doesn’t) excite you.
  2. Get a variety of experiences. Don’t wait for pay or prestige to experience new kinds of work. Find ways to try different things, and really be present in those moments; experience the work so that you can find out what excites you.
  3. Do some research. Read, clip and save articles that interest you. Over time, you’ll see themes emerge, which can help you identify strong interests. When I began trying to determine my new direction, I reviewed two years worth of clippings and saw themes around leadership and corporate culture.
  4. Notice talented people who inspire you. Find ways to learn more about them, and offer your assistance when possible. Kristina Bouweiri, CEO of Reston Limo, is one of my role models. I watch, learn from and imitate her. I regularly ask her for support and ideas, and I provide her with support and promising connections. I’m learning a lot about myself by watching her – and making sure she gets something out of our relationship.

It may take some time to figure out how your passions can translate into career success and a bigger paycheck, but knowing what gets you excited is the first step. And when you open yourself up to experiencing new things and exploring your passions, you may not mind the time it takes, because you’ll be enjoying the ride.

Rock on,

Misti Burmeister, best-selling author of From Boomers to Bloggers: Success Strategies Across Generations and Hidden Heroes