Below are four statements from people claiming to be passionate about a subject. Pick the statement most likely to be uttered by someone unclear on the concept:
“I fell into accounting because my college girlfriend was into it and we wanted to be in class together. I know, not the best way to pick a class, but you know what, it worked! I’ve never looked back—the girl and I are long broken up, but there’s no question about my career!”
“I’ve always been a writer. I’ve kept journals since I was fourteen. It’s easy for me; I go into a zone and will literally stay up all night sometimes clicking away on the keyboard. It doesn’t matter what I’m writing. I picture the reader and treat the format as a challenge… you know, can I get my message across given the constraints of the format. I love that.”
“I’m very excited by the opportunity. I think you’ll see I have a great deal of passion for being a Marketing Director. I’m very much looking forward to applying my skills at your company.”
“I’ve never had an easy time asking people for money… but I have had an easy time getting people excited about what I was doing, so I always looked at fundraising as a challenge to get people as passionate as I was for the organization’s work. Once I got really good at that, the money came… and it turns out, lots of it.”
The answer is “C.” Did you get it right? Here’s the breakdown:
A: The self-deprecating, humorous story about how he got into the field shows confidence that he’s in the right place. From the juxtaposition of the relationships, we can infer that he is more passionate about accounting than he was about his college girlfriend.
B: This person is describing how she loses herself in her work, and turns grunt work into a challenge worthy of her focus. She closely identifies with her writing, a frequent feature of a passion.
C: Was this written on 3×5 notecard or something? The lack of context, “appropriate” formality, and undercurrent of ingratiation tells me that this is bogus. There is no discernable understanding of the job, the company, or the culture he’s walking into. Survey says… bu-bye.
D: This person has an internal locus of control, has been challenged, and has used that sense of control to find a way forward in spite of that challenge. That’s a lot of sleepless nights, focus, dedication, and hard work to accomplish what this person has done… and, the results are verifiable.
What passion “is”:
Energy. Drive. Romance. Personal investment—no, personal commitment… all directed to a single goal and mixed with a healthy dose of positivity. That’s passion. Without the positivity, it’s intensity. Without the commitment, it’s… a sales pitch.
How to spot passion in others:
Passion is an attracting force. People who are passionate about what they do leave you wondering how to get a job with them or for them… whereas people who are intense act as repellents, leaving you to wish them good luck and hope you never cross paths again. People who are passionate generally know who they are and what they’re capable of. They say things like, “I must be crazy to do what I do… I wish everyone could feel this way, though I wouldn’t wish my job on anyone!” People who are faking it say things like, “I love my job, I can’t understand why everyone wouldn’t want to do what I do.” The difference here is that the passionate person understands the sacrifices s/he is making and wishes for others the feeling, but not the heartache. The faker has a cushy job and knows it; that’s not passion, that’s called “Boy, did I catch a lucky break!”
Passionate people are not perfect. They often have personality problems that can seem glaring because their passions act as intensifiers. They can also be a little frustrating when you need something from them, because their passions tend to blind them to things that are not immediately relevant to achieving their top goals. Passionate people also get a lot of stuff done. If you’ve ever wondered, “When does that guy sleep,” only to find out he gets 7-8 hours of shuteye a night, you’ve stumbled upon someone who’s passionate. Stay close to that person!
How to develop your passion:
I cannot light the fire in your belly; I can only light a fire under your butt. So don’t look to me or anyone else to help you find your passions… in the immortal words of Jeffrey Gitomer, you’re going to have to kick your own ass.
This video includes the two most important things you need to do to successfully do so:
Jason Seiden is CEO of Ajax Workforce Marketing. Ajax amplifies brands by aligning employees' online messaging.