On a mission

In yesterday’s post, I talked about the importance of bringing passion to your job. It’s easy to buy into that theory when the job involves fun stuff like planning a Super Bowl or marketing Apple products or creating ad campaigns. But what about when the job involves selling hearing aids or running a security company or teaching French to semi-interested adults who refuse to do homework? What about running a sanitation crew or fixing potholes or troubleshooting pumps? What about hauling grain or changing bedpans or working on a factory floor? I maintain that passion is essential no matter where you work or what you do. I’ve seen the difference firsthand.

Here’s a case in point. I once attended a sales meeting for a company that makes and sells products that most people wouldn’t consider very exciting. In fact, the average Joe probably doesn’t think about these products at all; they just hum along in the background, taken for granted by everyone.

I didn’t expect to get much from the meeting other than some face time with colleagues I don’t see often. It didn’t take long, however, for me to really tune in during the product presentations. Despite the not-so-glamorous profile of hanging hardware and flexible piping, I found my attention drawn to the front of the room. It wasn’t because of eye-catching graphics on the projection screen; it was the passion in the presenter’s voice that drew me there. It wasn’t just one presenter, either. Each person who stood behind the podium clearly believed in what he did and was eager to share his enthusiasm.

That made all the difference.

I left that conference refreshed. It’s exciting to work with people who are excited about what they do. I want to jump in and be part of it, and when I do a good job with my portion, I know it will be appreciated. That makes me eager to do more; success breeds success breeds success.

I’ve been involved with the flip side, too. When people view their jobs as tedious and boring, assignments become tasks, things to check off a to-do list, one more thing to get done before going home for the day. When effort goes unappreciated and is taken for granted, the incentive to go above and beyond disappears. In the end, a lackluster attitude brings lackluster results.

When you’re passionate about what you do, your job become a mission–and it rubs off. So what if you have a dirty job or a boring product? I’ll bet there’s more to it than that. Consider the examples I offered earlier from a different perspective:

  • The person selling hearing aids is allowing people to hear the voices of the people they love.
  • The person running a security company is helping to provide peace of mind and to keep people safe.
  • The person teaching French is sharing part of another culture.
  • The person hauling grain is helping to feed people and animals.
  • The person changing bedpans is bringing compassion to a sick person, as well as helping to control the spread of germs and bacteria, maintaining sanitary conditions so others don’t get sick.
  • The person troubleshooting pumps is making sure people don’t run out of water to drink.

It’s a lot easier to become passionate about your job–to transform it into a mission–when you take a long view of what you do. Look at the big picture and get excited. After all, you’re on a mission.

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