I guess I’m a passionate person. I believe that passion is one of the primary fuels that fire up those that excel at whatever they choose to excel at. I can’t imagine going through life doing something that you’re not passionate about. How boring.
I have met and/or admired people that showed a great deal of passion in what they do for a living. They don’t just do it, they live it, and to me that’s a commendable thing. I once started a job that I was excited about but didn’t feel very passionate about. After a few weeks I knew that the job was going to work for the short term but that I could never spend the rest of my life with that company. A few years later I left the job because I didn’t believe in the product they offered to their customers. There’s no passion where you don’t believe in something.
When I interviewed with the Department of Transportation a few years ago I realized that the folks that work there had very little passion for making the roads and highways a safer place. I was more excited than a little kid when I thought of the possibility of marking roads through signs and pavement markings and lights in an effort to convey the most amount of information to a motorist in as little space and time as possible. When I discovered that I would be somewhat of a freak in the state run office (because I had a passion for what others considered just a job), I knew that I was not on the right career path. The lack of effort shows on the roads of New York today.
Aside from the obvious passion I have for my partner and our little family, I have a passion for technology. I think that’s the reason that I love Apple products so much; Apple has a passion for what they bring to the world. I feel an emotional connection to my iGadgets. I know that many would roll their eyes and say I’m nuts (I’m used to that), but I think that when the right technology is used in the right ways, one can change the world. I feel a certain (but less) amount of passion for Ubuntu Linux as well, but the rub there is that there isn’t a hardware experience that compliments the Ubuntu Linux operating system the way a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air compliments OS X Lion. “You can use any computer!” they say. I don’t want to use ‘any’ computer, I want to use ‘the’ computer. The package is not complete, and therefore, I don’t feel that emotional connection. You have to have the right combination doing the right things to make it work. You can’t force passion through marketing. Claims of “You will love this!” do little for those that have access to a passionate existence.
When I build a program or improve a process at work that simplifies what others find a chore, and their eyes light up with relief and/or gratitude, I know that my passion for what I do is not misguided. I love efficiency and I love making people more efficient. I suck at it personally, but I love what I do for others and it’s because of that passion that I occasionally rock the boat on conference calls or not worry about playing the political game and asking the obvious questions that others are afraid to mention. If you believe in something, you need to believe in it all the way and that has to be demonstrated out loud. I read about these tech companies that employ professional chefs or on-site masseurs (among many other niceties) for their employees. I think that’s awesome, because that gives employees the opportunity to embrace their passion and feel good about what they’re doing. Ultimately it’s a win-win situation. It’s like the company that puts effort into giving their employee a cubicle that feels inspiring instead of plopping them into a gray/mauve blended drab existence where there is little opportunity (due to ambient noise, outdated equipment, etc) to focus on one’s passion. It’s about the whole package. Build an environment where the truly passionate can flourish.
I feel lucky that I have been able to find things in my life that evoke an emotional response, and I feel even more lucky that I have found that passionate, emotional response in the first place. I know so many people that don’t find what truly makes them tick or even how to access those types of feelings and I wonder what that’s like.
Because feeling passionate is an awesome experience.
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