Passion for Work:
Extreme Performance Improvement

Passion-for-workIn an ideal world, we’d all be working with passion in jobs that bring out our strengths and talents to achieve the greatest good in organizations and the world. But that doesn’t always happen the way we envision. Complexities demand more of us and stress can beat the enthusiasm out of the most idealistic and fervent professional. How do we recapture passion for work?

Browsing through Harvard Business Review archives, I found an article by John Hagel III and John Seely Brown (August 30, 2010), “Shape Serendipity, Understand Stress, Reignite Passion”.

We focus on passion in work for two reasons. First, our research suggests that passion is key to achieving sustained extreme performance improvement. This is essential to relieve the stress that we all feel in our work lives. Second, our 2009 Shift Index survey showed that passion levels in the workforce are very low (generally below 20% of workers give indications of passion for their work). The level of passion is inversely related to the size of the company — larger companies have the lowest levels of passion in the workforce. “What do I do if I don’t have passion?” and “How do I sustain passion?” are two questions that often come up.

Read More »

Posted in career, coaching, leadership | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rekindle Your Passion for Work


As we prepare for some holiday family time – for those who celebrate the US day of Thanksgiving – we think about gratitude. But not everyone’s joyful at work. This would be a good time to reflect on how we can rekindle passion for the work you do. Here are some suggestions to help rekindle your passion and drive at work.

Try to remember and connect with your values and highest purpose every time you walk into the office, whenever you chat with a client or coworker, and even when completing routine tasks like paperwork. Remind yourself: “This is why I’m here.” Read More »

Posted in career, coaching | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How Not to Lose Passion at Work

Passion-at-workMany people who seek professional coaching complain about losing their passion mid-career. Some would like to switch careers, but they remain cautious in these uncertain times.

Most coaches, including myself, will advise you to look inward before making a drastic decision to change jobs or career path. Perhaps the problem isn’t the job or supervisor, but within you. If so, you can change your thinking, beliefs or level of engagement as you strive to make work more meaningful.

Middle age is accompanied by a heightened awareness of one’s sense of meaning. Psychologist Erik Erikson described this stage of life as one seeking productivity and generativity. Read More »

Posted in career, coaching, executive coaching | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Mid Career Complaint:
“Has Anyone Seen My Passion?”

Passion-at-workAt some point in your career, you may sense a creeping malaise. You’re no longer enthusiastic about the day ahead. Where’s the passion? Perhaps you’re experiencing a mid-career crisis—the sudden realization that you’re no longer a rising star.

I’ve written about this before and it keeps coming up with my coaching clients. In fact, 75 percent of them struggle with mid-career issues.  One person told me, “I can’t seem to find my passion.”

“We hear a great deal of talk about the midlife crisis of the executive. It is mostly boredom. ~ Peter Drucker, management expert

Let’s face it, after 20-30 years of all-too-familiar work, you’re good at your job, but you’re not learning or contributing as much. You seldom feel challenged or particularly satisfied. While bills must be paid, bosses remain unpleasant, projects fail, and work stagnates. Read More »

Posted in career, coaching | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

3 Creative Questions that Spark Innovations

Creative-QuestionsI’ve been exploring creative questions and the creative processes innovators use to spark ideas. The ability to ask “why” has sparked innumerable innovations.

Author and journalist Warren Berger writes about this in A More Beautiful Question, a fascinating book illuminating the power of questions that lead to innovations. He outlines a framework of three sequential questions to spark the creative process:

Why? => What if…? => How might we…?

Ask “Why” and “What If”

The “why” stage is about stepping back and observing, to see and understand more fully what’s going on. Notice what others may be missing. Don’t ignore incongruencies. Investigate them. Challenge assumptions. Question the questions being asked and ask a new question. Read More »

Posted in collaboration, communication | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

6 Creative Processes that Use Questions

Creative-ProcessesI’ve been intrigued about the power of creative questions to spark problem-solving. Let’s explore some of the creative processes people use to find creative solutions:

4 Stages: Nearly a century ago, the British psychologist Graham Wallas proposed a four-stage process of creativity. In his 1926 book The Art of Thought, Wallas observed that creative solutions appear sequentially:

            Preparation => Incubation => Illumination => Implementation

This creative process is still used today in many research and innovation companies. Let’s look at five other creative processes: Read More »

Posted in coaching, collaboration, communication | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Power of Asking Creative Questions

Creative-QuestionsAsking creative questions can change everything. A big, beautiful question can generate ideas, inspire action, influence engagement and participation, as well as solve problems and spark creative genius. I’ve seen this happen spontaneously in my coaching practice. It’s worthwhile to consider how we can ask better questions more purposefully.

What kinds of questions are there? According to the Buddha there are these four ways of answering questions. Which four?

  • There are questions that should be answered categorically [straightforwardly yes, no, this, that].
  • There are questions that should be answered with an analytical (qualified) answer [defining or redefining the terms].
  • There are questions that should be answered with a counter-question.
  • There are questions that should be put aside.

Perhaps we don’t ask enough questions. Maybe we’re in a hurry to share our knowledge, or afraid to risk appearing ignorant. And, managers, at least many of the ones I coach, are often dedicated to quickly solving problems and telling people how. Read More »

Posted in career, coaching, collaboration, communication | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How to Use Social Signals in Conversations

Social-Signals-in-ConversationsI’ve been intrigued by new research about how we communicate and send social signals during conversations. New technology — the sociometer that measures our natural behaviors in the workplace — is revealing how people interact and work together. But for now, most of us don’t wear devices and don’t have the ability to dissect subtle message clues.

Even if we did have access to data on how we interact, what would we do with that information? Management could use it to design better work spaces that promote team communication as well as arrange breaks and lunch room facilities that promote conversations. Read More »

Posted in collaboration, communication, relationships | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Reading People through Social Signals: Consistency

Reading-PeopleHow good are you at reading people? The more I read about communication social signals, the more I realize how complex we are as human beings. And yet, in conversation, we give off clear indications of how interested we are, how convinced or undecided we are and how open we might be to changing opinion.

Look at two people with opposing political or religious views. It’s painfully obvious by their interactions neither is going to persuade the other. You don’t need to hear the words, you can tell from across the room. Now social scientists are breaking down the minuscule behaviors that we produce by our focus, energy, activity, pitch, and variability. These happen in milliseconds and when you learn to become more aware of them, they are important clues to reading people.

I’ve already discussed three of the social signals Alex Pentland writes about in Honest Signals: How They Shape Our World: influence, mimicry and activity. The fourth social signal is consistency, that is, how much variability is there in emphasis and timing of your speech and movements during a conversation. Read More »

Posted in career, collaboration, communication | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment