passion blog cover

What color is your parachute? This must-read book is about figuring out what your passion is, and then finding an organization to pursue it.

parachute book

A book like this is needed more than ever now. Consider a report from Deloitte that found that 88% of employees don’t have passion for their work1

That is a pretty troubling statistic.

In the report, they give five tips to help employees develop passion at work.

  1. Encourage workers to work cross-functionally
  2. Encourage side-projects
  3. Encourage workers to network with people in their industry
  4. Encourage workers to engage with customers
  5. Enable workers to make a bigger impact, through things like collaboration tools both inside and outside the company

If you notice, all of these things involve helping employees with their personal development.

As a leader, this is the key to bringing that passion back to work. It sounds so simple in theory, but so many leaders don’t do this.

Focusing On Strengths

I’m very fortunate here at Officevibe in that I get to learn so much through all the research I do for my writing.

In the last few posts I’ve written, one trend is becoming incredibly obvious:

The future of work is in helping employees bring their best-self to work.

Employees have a desire to grow and they want to bring their ideas and contribute to the organization, but there are so many ways that managers often stifle that creativity.

All too often, work becomes too much like school. If you haven’t seen this TED talk already (although you probably have), please watch it now.

Sir Ken Robinson talks about how schools kill creativity. In many of the same ways, companies often kill the creativity of employees.

Companies are missing out on a huge opportunity. There are so many strengths and skills that are going unused by millions of employees, because of things that are simple to change, but are often subconscious.

The smartest companies are figuring out ways to tap into and fully utilize the strengths of employees.

Self-Management And Systems Like Holacracy

I had heard about holacracy a few years ago, but only recently started really diving deep and learning more about it.

What I’ve come to realize is that ultimately it doesn’t matter which system you use, but the concept of self-management is where the real power is.

The concept of removing the traditional concept of a boss that tells you what to do and allowing employees to work freely on projects they’re compelled to work on is so powerful.

Employees get to work on what they feel they have the most expertise in.

Self-organization is not a startling new feature of the world. It is the way the world has created itself for billions of years. In all of human activity, self-organization is how we begin. It is what we do until we interfere with the process and try to control one another.Margaret J. Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers

But there is a deeper concept that is at the root of all of this.

Trust.

That’s such a powerful concept that unfortunately most managers don’t seem to grasp.

The reason these systems work is because of their implicit trust.

The biggest issue with trust is that it is earned and takes time to form, but when you trust your employees, you don’t have to worry about micromanaging them.

The Science Behind All Of This

In most of my posts, I like looking at the science or psychology behind whatever I’m writing about. I want to go through four concepts quickly and discuss how they relate to all of this.

  1. The Dunning-Kruger Effect

    The Dunning-Kruger effect is a subconscious bias where unskilled people think that they’re better than they are, and highly skilled people often underestimate their competence.

    Managers should be aware of this concept and understand that they might not always have the best ideas or answers.

    It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.Steve Jobs

  2. Founder’s Syndrome

    This is a common problem that many companies face. Founder’s syndrome occurs when the founder(s) maintain a disproportionate amount of power and influence over the company.

    While this is about founders and is likely stronger in founders, mid-level managers experience this too.

    Again, it’s important for managers to be aware of this because power shouldn’t be held only at the top. Power should be distributed relatively evenly to have the most effective team.

  3. Intrinsic Motivation

    I’ve written a lot about intrinsic motivation for a reason. It’s the most powerful way to get the most out of your employees.

    If you can discover what an employee’s internal motivation is, what they want to master, and what they want to be passionate about, you’ll be able to have the most productive, most engaged employees.

  4. Authentic Self-Expression

    There is more and more research coming out2 about how what happens in most companies is instead of utilizing people’s skills and creativity, they’re forced to conform to the way the company already works.

    When this happens, people stop expressing themselves authentically and don’t give their best to the company.

    Managers should understand this and try their best to let employees embrace their unique skills, strengths, and quirks.

How To Discover Your Passion

In his incredible commencement speech at MIT, Drew Houston, the CEO of Dropbox, talks about finding your tennis ball.

In it, he says:

The happiest and most successful people I know don’t just love what they do, they’re obsessed with solving an important problem, something that matters to them.

They remind me of a dog chasing a tennis ball: their eyes go a little crazy, the leash snaps and they go bounding off, plowing through whatever gets in the way. I have some other friends who also work hard and get paid well in their jobs, but they complain as if they were shackled to a desk.

The problem is a lot of people don’t find their tennis ball right away. Don’t get me wrong — I love a good standardized test as much as the next guy, but being king of SAT prep wasn’t going to be mine. What scares me is that both the poker bot and Dropbox started out as distractions. That little voice in my head was telling me where to go, and the whole time I was telling it to shut up so I could get back to work. Sometimes that little voice knows best.

It took me a while to get it, but the hardest-working people don’t work hard because they’re disciplined. They work hard because working on an exciting problem is fun. So after today, it’s not about pushing yourself; it’s about finding your tennis ball, the thing that pulls you. It might take a while, but until you find it, keep listening for that little voice.Drew Houston, CEO of Dropbox

What Are You Passionate About?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!