AKA fervor, dedication, joy, intensity, zeal, rapture, exaltation, inclination, and so on; all towering attributes that add “zing” into our otherwise mundane lives.
Any time you find yourself truly passionate about something, anything, it automatically translates to more excitement, enthusiasm and energy, and definitely more zest for life. It’s no surprise then that corporate Czars treasure this precious sentiment, and encourage their employees and teams to carry their passion into their profession. Coz they know that this is a sure-fire way to higher productivity and retention!
So let us ask you what your boss wants most from you: Are YOU passionate at work?
If you’re the sort who’s unfortunately lost sight of this passion, we have good news for you. Awakening your dormant passion is not a herculean task; all you need is a project that revitalizes you at work.
This “passion” project:
- Leaves you enormously happy, AND…
- Leaves your boss increasingly happy, AND…
- Leaves your company and clients uproariously happy!
Truly, this is not too good to be true and can unconditionally work for you. Quoting from the very wise T. D. Jakes, “It is your passion that empowers you to be able to do that thing you were created to do”. Wow!
Here, we help you understand why a passion project is critical to your professional (and personal) success, even as we guide you with six sparkling rules to pick the right one. Throughout this post, we’ve also sprinkled exciting examples of office-friendly projects so you too can tap into them as you choose the perfect passion project at work.
What is a Passion Project?
So without further ado, let’s show you what to do…
A passion project is bigger than you
This is perhaps the first golden rule with passion projects: that they are much bigger than your personal interests, agenda and need for reward. But off course, you do benefit tremendously from it, but consciously choose to exercise your passion in an area that is also supremely beneficial to others at work.
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One trick is to pick one skill that you’re exceedingly good at – people skills, attention to detail, the ability to work across teams, the ability to organize things easily, etc. – and find an area where you can unleash this skill to help others.
- If people skills are your strength, then perhaps you can organize a (fun) event across teams with seemingly conflicting professional interests, and help these teams bond and become more compatible.
- If you’ve got strong organization skills, perhaps you can take the initiative to thoroughly understand those vague and tedious quality processes that no one wants (or likes), and come up with refined processes that are simpler to implement.
- If you’re committed to innovation, perhaps you can find an area where your company is lacking, and offer to research and develop a process/ standard/ milestone that will strengthen this erstwhile weak area.
- If you’re a great presenter, perhaps you can also offer to turn into an occasional trainer at work, using your skills to train other team members on company initiatives.
The moment you decide to use your ninja skills for the greater benefit, you open several opportunities for mutually-satisfying passion projects at work.
A passion project pushes you beyond the call of duty
Duty is a term that takes the passion out of every action. It’s that portion of your work that you do not much care for: like finishing the cumbersome paperwork that accompanies an interesting Passion project, or adhering to the vague quality standards that you don’t quite understand, or working on a Passion project while you’re unclear on its vision. In all such instances, you do your work, almost unwillingly, only because it’s expected of you… coz it’s your professional duty. Sigh!
But as the tenacious Nelson Mandela noted, “There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” So break your slide into the ordinary by choosing a passion project that pushes you beyond the call of duty. If you find that a part of your duty is frustrating, uninteresting, cumbersome, pointless, etc., chances are that others agree with you too. Find a way to make these lower sentiments redundant.
For instance, perhaps you end every Passion project at work with monotonous data-entry work that is important enough to execute (as it captures critical statistics that is useful for future projects), but annoyingly time-consuming. This part of your work is your duty; so you do it, every time, with resentment, every time.
But what if,
- You find a way to simplify the process by developing a template or a script that could automate a large portion of the work? OR…
- You derive a way to reduce manual errors during the process and reduce the total time it takes? OR…
- You work with other teams to tabulate the total data-entry work, and find a case to hire a junior contractor who can perform this task better and significantly faster. With this, you are able to free up critical employee-time across teams.
When you take this up with passion and lead it to success, we reckon that you will not be the only one pleased with the results!
We’d like to quote from Google here, as some their universally popular programs (like Gmail, Google News and the very innovative AdSense) were all spawned off passion projects from Google employees who decided to push the envelope, and created a legacy at work. Today, these projects have benefited millions around the world. And this is what makes a perfectly ordinary task an extraordinary achievement, pushing you well beyond the call of duty. Bravo!
A passion project is driven by self-motivation
This one is easy coz a passion project should ideally be initiated by you. Of course, it helps to have the support and blessings of your superiors and team. But in the project’s arena, you are the King of the world! (Well, almost!)
As professionals aspiring to get ahead in the aggressive corporate world, we like to paint ourselves as “ambitious,” “go-getters,” “self-driven,” “self-motivated,” “enthusiastic,” “dynamic” and so on. These are the glorious attributes we wish to constantly showcase to our superiors, so they are convinced that we’re ready and waiting for the next bigger challenge and role. Heck, these are the attributes that can win us our next promotion!
With a passion project,
- You choose your Passion project and begin from scratch. This will teach you to develop solid research skills as you explore the best ways to get it right.
- You build your own team. Even if this isn’t true, you still retain the responsibility of inspiring your team. That’s Leadership training at your doorstep!
- You become the go-to person for all things associated with the Passion project, so you quickly learn to lead with responsibility.
- You alone are responsible for its success or failure, so you learn to take sole ownership for every This in turn teaches you to turn around any mistake!
As you may have guessed, this will take ALL your motivation to lead it to success!
But the great news is that once you’re done, you tangibly prove that you walk your talk. You are a genuinely “ambitious,” “go-getter,” “self-driven,” “self-motivated,” “enthusiastic,” “dynamic” professional and have practically illustrated the magic your motivation can create. Well done!
A passion project strengthens your multitasking skills
Okay, let’s give it to you straight here. A passion project is and always will be a “side” project, one you willingly took up beyond the demands of your professional role. So in a sense, it’s also an “add-on” project that you learn to handle along with the other heavy demands of your job.
Sounds undoable? Hardly!
Here, it helps to think of each Passion project at work as your child. You’re hardly going to choose one at the expense of the other, are you? In fact, we’ve seen that people consistently learn to do older things better, and learn newer things, when they’re forced to handle too many things at once. You naturally get more creative as you come up with even better ways to organize, prioritize and manage each project. This includes better management of your time, people resources, knowledge, and project milestones, all turning you into an effective all-rounder with enviable multitasking skills.
And which industry doesn’t appreciate (metaphorically and financially) a multitasking professional? So more power to you!
A passion project gets you out of the box
Are you tired of typing away at your computer in your claustrophobic cubicle at work? Well, you can choose a passion project that gets you out of the box!
Again, the only rule to follow is the golden rule – find a way to exercise your passion to create a tangible (and hopefully measurable) benefit to others at work.
- If you have a side-love for photography, don’t just use this to click pictures of your buddies at work. Find a way to create a portfolio that showcases your company’s brand statement (like employee-friendly, or niche-techies, or customer-is-king, etc.).
- If you love cooking, don’t just invite others at work for the occasional potluck. Raise a bake or cookout sale with your team and work with your company to donate the proceeds to their favourite charity. This strengthens the bond within your team and enhances the company’s brand presence.
- If you’re a keen writer who wishes to go beyond the engineering-geek-mails your role demands, choose to partner with your firm’s PR/ marketing department and find ways to improve your company’s social media presence. Perhaps you can even form a tech-team that also contributes to a company blog?
If you can align your passion with your company’s vision, you’ll find that your superiors are more than willing to let you out of the box! J
A passion project inspires you to welcome tough challenges
The key word here is “tough”.
Think of a time when you willingly chased a challenge and achieved success. Perhaps you managed to quit smoking to get healthy, or gave up sugar to lose weight, or slept less and studied more to ace an exam? The journey was intense, but you were able to apply yourself and conquer it coz you associated the end reward with your passion.
As you’ve hopefully come to realize, passion and (tough) challenges always go together to help you achieve success.
We mention this here, coz it’s not always that you get to willingly choose your passion project. There may be times when a boss “dumps” a difficult/ boring/ hostile/ doomed-to-failure/ nobody-else-wants-this Passion project into your unwilling lap. Tough!
But there’s good news round the corner. There is a powerful ingredient that you can tap to turn this tough project to you favor – yes, passion!
You see, passion is an attribute that centers not so much on your skill, or your connection with a project, or even your liking for the project. It’s borne from your mental attitude. It’s that “absolutely-can-do” mental toughness that empowers you to last through the project, until the successful end. This means that independent of external influences, you can consciously choose to tap into your inner passion to make a tough project work for you.
The key lies in tuning the Passion project to something you (and others) can feel undeniably excited about. This could be the time-savings you expect to win out of it, or the recognition you hope to enjoy from it, or the learning you’re sure you will derive from it. If not anything else, connect it to your passion to be enormously successful, any time, any place, with any project!
We leave you with a quote from the gifted Yo-Yo Ma who cleverly noted, “Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity; because if you’re passionate about something, then you’re more willing to take risks.” It is this lofty attitude that turned him into a celebrated Cellist in our world.
So we ask you – How will YOU unleash your passion at work?
Think it, Live it, Celebrate it!