Run a search on current business clichés or phrases to avoid and you’re likely to come across a number of references to the word passion. The writers tend to be passionate about the fact that passion is a term to avoid on your CV, during interviews and in other business references.

Is it out of style to be vocal about your passion for your work, your profession or your firm?

Perhaps. At least when it comes to articulating how excited you are to be doing what you are doing, it’s better to show than tell. And while the use of the term may generate a bit of a cringe factor for a variety of reasons, including the suspicion that someone is making it up, showcasing your passion for your work never goes out of style!

A Few Examples of People Showcasing Their Passion in Their Work:

-The sales representative who beat her numbers every year not by slick sales tactics or aggressive discounting, but by working tirelessly to help her customers solve their challenging business problems. You can’t build that kind of passion into an incentive program!

-There’s the senior leader I know who works only because he believes to his core that creating a great career experience for the people in his charge is his calling. Everyone knows it, without him describing how passionate he is about his work.

-There was the young nursing student at The Mayo Clinic who turned to me and answered my question on why she liked working here, with an emphatic: “Because it is a privilege.” I was pleasantly stunned. I’ve rarely seen that level of passion for a place of work from any professional.

-There was the team of engineers who suspended time and their personal lives to pull off a project that few believed would succeed. They changed the fortunes of their firm and the shape of an industry in the process. No one had to say they were “passionate” about their work…it was on display constantly.

-And finally, there is the young professional who is quickly climbing through the ranks on the sheer enthusiasm and commitment she has for truly serving as a leader. She oozes passion for her team, her work and her firm.

We Sense It When People are Going Through the Motions:

A team senses if the boss is going through the motions and a teacher sees, hears and senses the contrast between students who are focused on taking up space versus students focused on learning. The sense of a lack of passion for a topic impacts perceptions and interactions.

In the popular press, the topic of passion came up as former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ writing in his memoir, Duty, Gates questions President Obama’s passion for the soldiers and the two wars he inherited as President. It’s possible that Gates misperceived the President’s mood on the topic(s), however, just the sense that Mr. Obama might not have been passionate about these important issues was off-putting to Gates.

You cannot manufacture passion, and perhaps the pundits are right: if you have to say you’re passionate about something, perhaps you really aren’t.

How Do You Cultivate Passion for Your Work When It’s Mundane?

Many people have approached me searching for ideas to find some joy in what they perceived was mundane or even low-level work. Admittedly, it’s often difficult to find the reward from some of the jobs we perform. However, here are two examples of individuals who grabbed hold of different aspects of their daily tasks and found joy, and dare I say it, passion for their work.

Use the examples in good health and great enjoyment!

1. Find reward by focusing on the real customer.

Juantia felt trapped in a low-level and self-described mundane job. She recognized however that the output of her work in medical products assembly made a difference in the comfort or pain and even life or death of patients far removed from the factory floor. The customer in her mind isn’t the hospital or clinic, it’s the patient in a time of need and vulnerability who depends upon her product working flawlessly.

A few months after shifting her focus off of daily production reports and on to the idea of the patient as customer, she was promoted to shift supervisor. “It was noticed how much I really cared for the quality of our products.”

2. Shift your focus off of the tasks and on to the people completing the tasks.

In my work with project managers across technology, IT and construction industries, I hear a lot of gripes and groans about how difficult and thankless the work is. Interestingly, for those project managers who work the hardest on fostering effective team development are the ones who truly love their work.

“Bob” self-admittedly started out in project management with a “deliver at all costs” perspective and viewed people as interchangeable machines. After a team rebelled at his heavy-handed tactics, an experienced senior project manager worked with him to foster his team development skills. Bob is now a much sought after project manager who has a long list of team members willing to vouch for him as one of the best they’ve ever worked with.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

While the business pundits may have declared the term passion as passé, it never goes out of style in the workplace. The boss sees it. Your customers see it, your colleagues see it, and if you take the time to look in the mirror, you’ll see it on your own face. And yes, it’s another cliché, but when you love elements of what you are doing, it doesn’t feel like work.

Originally published at Published with permission.

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