Going To Fun

Discover Passion

If I've said it once I've said it a thousand times. I'm a very fortunate guy. My post college career has covered a span of more than thirty-five years so far. During that time I have probably "gone to work" for five or six years - and seldom for more than six to twelve months in a row. Instead, I've been "going to fun". 

Think about it. What would you rather do? Go to work, or go to fun? 

Whenever I started to get the feeling that I was going to work instead of fun, I forced myself to pay closer attention. What was causing those feelings? Was it a change in responsibilities? In management? In my office environment? Or was it something else? And how much influence did I have over the source of those feelings?

On more than one occasion, the answer to those questions helped me decide that it was time to make a change. Time to reestablish my priorities, focus on my passion, and move my career back to fun.

Over the past few years I've found myself mentoring more and more high school, college and graduate students. Among the many things they are all interested in is the story of my career path. Essentially, they are asking how to shape an executive career so that it is both financially rewarding and fun.

My answer? Go to fun! 

I emphasize that they need to make it their priority to discover their passion and find a business that will pay them to use it in their role, day after day. And that's when they ask the harder question...

How do I discover my passion?

I've been giving that question some serious consideration. Less than a year ago, I wrote about identifying our career taproot. The part of us that grows deep below the surface providing nourishment for our careers while sustaining our career posture, presence and vitality. All good, but not a great answer for how to discover ones passion.

My current thinking has taken the shape of a simple Venn diagram in which three centers of influence converge to form a place where passion might reside. Understand that I have no specific training or education that qualifies me to offer insight into the mysteries of passion. Instead, these thoughts are simply based on opinions shaped by experiences that I've had in my personal and professional life.

Respond to these three questions with a list of words that describe answers that are right for you. There are no wrong answers. Each of us will likely have a somewhat different list. Just be totally honest with yourself.
  1. What do you love to do? (List the things that you would do most if you had full control of every hour in your day. What are you doing, or hoping to do, when you are enjoying life the most?)
  2. Where do you love to be? (List the types of places that you enjoy being in. Are they big and expansive or small and intimate? Are they quiet and peaceful or active and energized?) 
  3. How do you love to act? (List descriptors of your core values, behaviors, and style. Are you driven by integrity, transparency and nurturing:? Or perhaps your more competitive, controlling, and decisive?)
Look for the words on each list that seem to work and perform well together. Which aspects of each list are to be in congruence with one another. The more that seem to blend together, the bigger the overlap in your centers of passionate influence - and the better defined your passion will be.

The final step in this model is to identify career opportunities - roles, industries, and specific businesses - that line up well with the passion you have defined and discovered within yourself. By finding that alignment each of us improves our chances of shifting the long held belief that we must go to work and earn a living. Instead, more people like you and me, will enable ourselves to go to fun and create a livelihood. In my opinion that's an incredible edge!

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this idea and others you may have on how best to discover and deploy our passion.

Your comments, suggestions, and stories of your personal edge are always welcome in my guest book.

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  • Steve
    Apr. 23, 2012
    This idea looks great on paper. However, I've had the pleasure of seeing it face-to-face in my life in the past month or so. It's even better than you might expect. Once you experience this, it would be impossible to do anything else. I have to pinch myself every day I go to "fun"!
  • Rod
    Nov. 27, 2011
    Thanks you so much for sharing with us Joe. Your's is a great story and example to learn from. And it helps me to validate the model of my current thinking and the advice that I give to young professionals and students. I can't wait to read of more stories like yours... or perhaps someone has a different perspective that they would like to share.

    All the best,

  • Joe Peterson
    Nov. 27, 2011
    As I contemplate this question much of my thoughts go back to outside influences such as faith, family, adversities and contemporaries that played a large part in forming my character and personal make-up. The foundational truths about life that my dad shared in short sentences, the comforts taken in the safety net of faith, the teachers and leaders at work setting examples of a work ethic not always seen, and the mentors that nudged me on when I became hesitant as to what lay around the corner all cause me to be very thankful for where I have come and what I have been able to experience and acheive. What a great time and country we live in!

    Now to frame my current situation and experience within the context of Rod's diagram and questions "what do I love to do, be and act."

    I love to dream of big ideas and get others to "buy in". I love to compete and win. I love the feeling of giving back and making a difference in my family, community and world. I love the satisfaction of having the solution that makes others lives better. I love to pay it forward and encourage others to take risks and challenges earlier, rather than later as I did. I love to travel to new places, and take some away time on a golf course or trout stream...These are the "do's".......

    I love to be part of a team or group. I love to network and socialize as it gives me energy. As mentioned above, I love to be part of a winner, especially when I'm the underdog (go Cougs), I love to be transparent and be a servant leader for the betterment of others, I love to be an encourager of others...these are the "be's".....

    I love to act in a manner I can be proud of. As already mentioned I love the competition in business and in life and to show others how to get there as well thru my transparency and willingness to pay if forward. While at first glance these actions seem admirable (and they are) I have found thru good fortune and hard work they also pay big dividends personally and professionally. This is how I love to act....

    I am already in a business that allows for most if not all of the functions listed above as an insurance agent, but it hasn't always been or felt that way. At the start of my insurance career I focused on the word "sales" a lot which had negative connotations along the lines of a car salesman or someone that goes door to door - - seeming rather self serving. But I had an epiphony about a decade ago! I realized that protecting others lives, families and all they had worked for was about as meaningful a career a guy (or gal) could ever dream of! This was the beginning of where I found my passion in the work place!

    Joe Peterson
    Insurance Agent

The Fine Print

Rod Brooks (that's me) is VP & CMO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).  It's important to disclose both of those relationships and to be clear that this is my personal blog where I share thoughts and opinions that are solely my own.  Contact me!

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