Sales Director - Durable Goods, EPI Marketing Services

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Having passion in your work is trainable. Being deeply passionate and driven is not. How does one pursue a deep desire to be doing more?

I am inspired by every person that contributes to TED. I would wager a guess that most of these people are deeply passionate about what they do. One could even say that they are living the dream - they are doing exactly drives them every day.

How can more of us achieve that - how does one get there?

- Are most of us not practical when we choose to become passionate about a career path or calling?
- Do some of us need to study longer to create the opportunity to become passionate about our career?
- How can we still follow our dreams in 2011, 2012 and beyond?
- Is the concept of following your dreams and doing more something of the past?

I consider myself lucky, I love what I do. I would like to be doing more in my community and with giving back. I feel I make contribution, but I could be doing more. How can I help others find passion in what they do and with where they are going?

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    Jul 10 2011: To me, having passion is very different from being driven. Passion comes from the heart. We can be driven by ego, attachment, addiction (or by a supervisor caught up in these limitations). Being driven narrows our focus and easily leads to exhaustion and burnout. Passion strives for balance and clarity. Obstacles to passion include, stress, pressure, hurry, impatience, and self-centeredness.

    We become passionate when we develop our unique gifts and potential to meet a need that leads to improvement in other’s lives. Passion requires an openness to ourselves and others as well as an appreciation of limits, resources, and opportunities. It is something we discover, not decide.

    Cultivating compassion and curiosity would seem a likely way to unleash passion. It is a connection between our gifts and other’s needs.

    Passion creates a sense of effortless flow and connectedness. It is natural, never forced. Passion allows us to discover who we really are and what this world we live in is all about.
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      Jul 11 2011: Your definition of passion is beautiful. When I say that passion is "forgetting" what is around you and just "becoming" YOU, I am trying to say what you have so beautifully said. The passion of creativity in the work place comes over me and uses every thing that I have been taught by my life experience up to that point. I do not "try", neither do I force myself in to a preconceived "fix" or habit.... I simply produce a solution that makes sense for both parties based on the known factors in front of me. Things happen at lightning speed because the pathway makes sense. Your suggestion of "effortless flow and connectedness" rings so true for me. I find my highest satisfaction in that type of situation.
      I find myself driven to find more opportunities to create that exact dynamic in order to "feel" the flow of passion.
      Well said and thank you for giving that experience a name, for me.
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        Jul 11 2011: Thank you Sherrie. I am not sure it works to be driven to find passion. It seems to arise most easily in times of balanced non-attachment. It is either there or not. When it is not there, I focus on balance and letting go.
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          Jul 12 2011: I suppose what I mean is that I know what it feels like to be in that flow and I look for the signs that there will be an opportunity to fulfill my role as conduit. I spend the time between those sparks of light building the pathways, if that makes sense. There is tedium in the construction of the pathway but it is part of process.
          I will remember your concept of balance and letting go. I am always looking for ways to become better at what I do and your example is clear and helpful.
          thank you.
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      Jul 11 2011: Very nicely done sir!
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    Jul 7 2011: I believe that to be passionate about anything, you have to understand one key concept, and it is frightening how many people truly don't understand this idea. Ready for it?


    Hope it helps someone :D
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    Jul 6 2011: Self being passion driven I always look for people while recruiting who are passionate. My feeling is that passion is something not trainable. It's something instinctively intrinsic. In a way no one can be trained to fall in love , passion is like that.

    Rather it's ones own motivation to fall in love and being passionate about that. If someone is focused with something s/he likes than may be passion can come.

    I feel regardless of competency and capability passion brings much better outcome.
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    Jul 7 2011: I work in bureaucracy, they drive the passion out of you. I feed my passion after hours. I would say that this is true for most of the people who are not lucky enough to be employed in a field that they love. People who are forced to earn a paycheck and live up to their responsibilities.
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    Jul 6 2011: If I could offer one piece of advice; Don't be shy, make conversations with strangers.

    It's amazing what can happen when you open up and talk to strangers.
  • Jul 12 2011: Recognising your passion is an act of courage. To truly express oneself is love in action.

    This may happen at work, it may happen outside of work, it may exist in both, it may not currently be present in your life at all.

    You are passionate about something because you are you, not because you think you should be passionate about it. Others have spoken beautifully about the need for space to allow ourselves to feel our passion, to find it, to know it for what it is, to cherish it, to foster it, to express it.

    It is a paradox that we may work very hard in the expression of our passion, and yet it is least likely to be found while we are working very hard.
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      Jul 13 2011: I agree wholeheartedly Ken. Being passionate ultimately is becoming ourselves fully and completely without effort. I believe love is at the core of every human being and love your statement "To fully express oneself is love in action."
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      Jul 14 2011: I think passion could be stimulated
      by putting the person in a work environment, to see progress directly
      it could be more helpful, if she/he suggested ideas, and was taken for granted
      this provides not only self confidence but more openness and desire to know more
      consequently more passion on what she/he is doing
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    Jul 12 2011: I think, getting used to doing things will get the person to perform tasks efficiently
    this will make the person love what he does, specially if she/he gets rewarded for his performance

    the main point is that, the person doesn't have to like the job he does
    but ........ the other way around........
    the person will love what he does, over time of course
    the learning curve, will let the person learn the job better, perform the tasks efficiently
    makes the person likes what he does
    I think this how things go
  • Jul 11 2011: Kevin, I hear what you are asking. I am trying to follow my passions and ambitions and have run into many unexpected challenges on my way to finding that perfect job. You've asked what can we do to stay motivated, to keep pushing through, or how to get around these obstacles.... I think the answer to that is hard to determine - success has many ways of happening. Just look at how varied the stories of most business leaders are - not all of them are rags to riches, or overnight successes.

    I have pondered this exact question in my chosen field - advertising. I wanted to know what people did, where the defining moment in their career was.... So I read about the greats: Ogilvy, Bernbach, Burnett and then I read about some recent greats: Deutsch, St. Lukes (England).... By reading the stories behind the people I thought were successful in the field I was pursuing, I got a much better idea of what was required. Here's what I would say are most important:

    1. Have ideals of what a perfect job / standard of work excellence is. Stick to it.
    2. Have the courage to stand up for your ideals and new ideas.
    3. Come up with new ideas.
    4. Work hard and know when to rest.
    5. There will come a time long after you decided what your passion is, long after many projects and hours have been spent perfecting your craft, this will be the opportunity to have your defining moment.
    6. Use steps 1-4 to capitalize on 5.

    I know my answer is general at best, but I hope it helps. Always keep putting yourself out there!
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    Jul 11 2011: I believe true 'passion' develops when you pursue an innate "interest " that you love.
    This "interest" develops naturally from childhood onward, though: play, school-learning, daily life, and jobs/career ...
    Later, if working in a profession not related to what you innately love to do - you WILL find a way to incorporate that interest in your work - or you will feel as though you're going 'Crazy!'.( not being 'me') you make a career change, then another....

    The exercise I found that helped me define my career goals/ innate "interest" / "passion" is the book "What Color is your Parachute?" by Richard Nelson Bolles: the exercise is simple - yet incredibly dynamic:

    - Write down Everything you like / love to do on a blank piece of paper ( sports, gardening, work related, read about etc)
    - Place this list in a drawer for safe keeping.
    - Repeat - add new lists to the drawer when you feel like it (days,weeks,months or years later)
    - This is Key: Never look at any previous lists, before or after adding the new list in the drawer.
    - Later, ( weeks, months, years) When you feel you're ready: place every list side by side, and circle the ONE item that is repeated on each list. Yes, it is amazing - there will be only One! =That is your Passion/ Your Dream/s

    Next step is difficult :
    - Allow yourself to seriously consider how you can pursue this "interest" as a career
    Begin to take small steps to include your "interest" in your daily work, your life,..
    don't stop..until you find a way to pursue your interest full time
    Then you will feel like you are " finally being 'you' "

    People you know may be stunned to see you pursue this "interest" with such driving Passion!..You'll work harder than ever, yet every moment will feel like, what I call, "Serious Play". Your innate "Passion" will surface as you follow your Interest/your Dreams - you will be incredibly successful : happy in work, relationships, life, and play!
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    Jul 8 2011: Manage your time well. Enjoy what you do. Enjoy your customers. It aint right till it's right, and dont give up till it is. We cannot afford to have a single dissatisfied customer. Fix the Customer first, then the machinery.
    Integrity: Self Honesty. Never Lie about anything.
    Responsibilty to success and a future with the same customers.
    Above all....Show up for work on time and ready, and do your work well.
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      Jul 10 2011: Well said Dick.
      Passionate person actually displays all what you have said.
      I am more into Integrity & Responsibilty sometimes too much passion to goal can derail those two.
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    Jul 7 2011: Well for me one of the biggest steps is being brave enough to start asking yourself the "big questions" but being totally willing to find the answer. Total follow through. If whomever you are trying to help is not willing to do that for themselves well there isn't too much you can do to help. Without those answers, some hard to face, pursuing a dream will always be a distant memory. And I am speaking from personal experience. You know I love that I wake up and do what I truly love everyday and believe that the world would have much less violence if more people were doing what they were truly passionate about. Because when your mind is fully engaged in your dreams and passion there is very little room for negatives to get in.
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    Jul 7 2011: Kevin,
    I truly believe that you can earn a living doing whatever it is you are truly passionate about pursuing. However, it takes hard work and doesn't happen immediately. As for how to help others find passion in what they do, apply for a TEDx Salon license and host monthly gatherings of people to watch TED videos and foster deep discussions about things that matter!
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    Jul 20 2011: Great topic and would be great if more and more people would consider thinking at this and then, if course, living their lives this way. In a recent TEDx talk I was saying that we can build our own world/lives if we start from the right point - ourselves. Normally society tells us what to do, what to learn, who to be. We can start the other way around: we can decide what are Values are, what our Dreams are, what Skills do we need to acquire to achieve our Dreams, and last but not least who are the people we want to live surrounded by.
    Some insights and visuals, here:
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    Jul 19 2011: Why have you been so successful in reaching some of your goals, but not others? Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability.

    In fact, decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do.

    Being specific about what you are seeking...being passionate about results.

    Mostly having fun and enjoying the learning process along the way. Having the guts to experiment and make changes...sharpen up and not feel that you may fail...
  • Jul 19 2011: Well this has actually been a topic I have put a lot of thought into. What currently drives my ideas is a breakdown of the film Into the Wild. It is separated into the stages of a man's life; parts that I believe must be distinctly lives and experienced in their own turn. Most importantly however, is the lack of definition between them. If you had to look throughout your life and distinguish each one, (except the latest which relate to death) you will no doubt find that many of them blur together for periods of time. There is a lack of definition in this sense, a lack of rituals of passage - marking points in your life that define your objectives clearly. The lack of these create confusion, and in turn, dissatisfaction.

    The first stage is childhood. This stage should be one of intense exploration, where everything is new and lived to the maximum. There are no limits in terms of experience.... the second, adolescence. This should be taken more into consideration, for in my opinion it is a heavily undervalued phase: it is the point of rebellion, where you want to let go of everything that attaches you to the life you live. You want to start anew. Thirdly, manhood. Yes, you broke away, you travlelled, experienced new cultures, opinions, and every other thing you could discover for yourself. You have lived and partied all you need for life, and finally feel an urge to settle down, to direct and organize your own life.

    I will stop here as the question pertains to this section only.

    The prime importance in the above path, is the distinct boundary you must draw between each. Notice how the third phase broke away from the second: you "finally feel an urge to settle down, to direct and organize your own life." I personally believe that if you can find a purpose for your work, realize why you work, but most importantly that you want to and need to work not for money but for pleasure, your chances at happiness vastly increase.
  • Jul 18 2011: Im working at a position that im not passionate about at all. The thing is that i dont like to make my bosses know that because theyll be dissapionted. What this job has done for me is figuring out I dont like it, but I'm not sure about how to drop it with to my bosses if they have a lot of plans for me that I dont like. I love taking care of people and showing them the beauty of the world itself, but im not a sales-driven person. Any advice?
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      Jul 18 2011: Just leave the job and go for something that you love to do as you told above. It's making your time boring for you and wastage the organisational time and resource.
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      Jul 19 2011: Guillermo, I know nothing about your position, responsibilities, experience or options and these will be important factors in your decisions. However, I do believe passion can be cultivated in many ways. Your post implies that you are in sales and you state that you "love taking care of people and showing them the beauty of the world." Possibly there is an opportunity to do this, even in very small ways with people you come into contact with in your current position. You could also find ways to explore this interest outside of your job. t is possible there is much you can learn in your current position that will help you to develop your passion in the future

      I don't believe you have an obligation to share your thoughts or concerns with your bosses. This sounds like a time of uncertainty and it is usually not helpful to make definitive statements while we are still questioning and exploring. The best advise I can think of is to take your time and trust that your passion will emerge if you remain open to it and explore it with the resources that are available to you.
  • Jul 14 2011: I find that nearly all of my drive comes from looking back at things that I have created. I am fixated with it; the need to constantly be making something, anything. Nothing is ever satisfying, not completely, so I'm driven to go above and beyond the last thing I've accomplished in an effort to hit that perfect level of self-satisfaction.
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      Jul 18 2011: It sounds to me that you are perfectionist. It's ok if you work alone in creative arena or innovation (though now a days those also becoming more team work).

      But if you are leader of a team , high possibilty is that it might hinder team productivity and demotivation as diversity makes a team strong , so team members who are not detail oriented rather big picture person or who are more deadline driven will get demotivated and may leave your team.

      If you are member of team it also can slow down the pace team despite all the effort from your leader if s/he doesn't take care of it specially.Well that's my feeling....
      • Jul 18 2011: I completely agree, and I AM a bit of a perfectionist, but my focus does lie in the individually creative realm, so I generally don't deal with others unless I'm collaborating. Still, I'd like to move away from my narrow focus and take the time to diversify myself, in a similar fashion to the diversity of a group of cooperating workers, so that I can express myself in a more clear and empathetic way.
  • Jul 14 2011: I find that simply giving back drives me, no matter in what way, I am passionate about giving and it sounds like you are also.

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    Jul 11 2011: I think that people need to take a more positive outlook. Alot of people that I work with see their work as an necessary evil. I however look at it as a way to socialise, develop as a person and provide for my family.
    I am not saying that I would go to work with no financial incentive but I do find it alot easier to get otu of bed in the morning than alot of people i know!
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    Jul 11 2011: Kevin, I think most people (at least when it comes to jobs) don't do what they are passionate about, but what provides them with a paycheck. That's why so many employees, simply "meet expectations" instead of "exceed expectations".
    Once you are doing something you are not passionate about, it seems difficult and stressful to convince yourself otherwise.
    The easier and better way for everybody is to find something (hopefully there is something) you are able to be genuinely passionate about.
    Part of the problem is probably the fact that most of us decide their future profession at a very early age and once the decision is made, most people stick to this choice, whether they like it or not. There are relatively few who make a U-turn on their career path and correct a decision they are not happy with. Most just hang in.
    I also agree with Anne below. An innate interest in something is the precursor to passion (although there is no guarantee that interest evolves into passion either)
  • Jul 11 2011: Thank you to all that have commented on my question. I am encouraged by the positive suggestions and the many words of wisdom that you all have shared. I like the idea of helping others find a way to first be passionate about themselves, and about having passion with yourself. I also fully agree that drive and passion are different characteristics completely and that drive could actually have an inverse affect on a passionate person.

    It also seems that we all have an idea of something we could be passionate about, that dream job. Unfortunately, sometimes we find that work or that employer or the lives involved with that perfect dream job tend to extract the passion from your work, making that dream job potentially another disappointment, an unfulfilled destination.

    My answer to my own question is this: If doing something you can be passionate about is a priority in your life, have a plan. Make sure you are accurate in your understanding of what that dream role entails. Make sure you have a handful of organizations that you feel would have a similar passion and mission as you see yourself driving towards. You need to be patient. There are going to be some unpleasant work experiences that you will have to endure as you find the appropriate timing to make your move toward your true role in life. And lastly, know who you are and who you want to be, but always be true to your core and your being.

    Be centered, understand yourself, know who you are, know who you want to be and where you are going.
    Be smart, make sure you truly understand what kind of work this pursuit of passion will bring you.
    Be wise, take your time identifying the companies that feel the way you feel and work the way you work.
    Be tolerant, the work you will have along the way will not always be pleasant but it will help you get through.
    Be thankful, doing what you love is not work, that is a career with reward after reward - every day of your life!
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      Jul 11 2011: GREAT QUESTION and I understand it. I have only recently become passionate about myself, which makes me more interested in everything around me.

      If I am passionate about my self then I want to feed my self joy and wonder and beauty. I want to give my self laughter and love and wisdom. I want to surround my self with deep thinkers and loving relationships so I want to grow my self in order to attract what I seek.

      The benefit of being passionate about my self is finding out who I am meant to BE.

      Great question!!!!!!!!! When we are passionate about our selves then we will be passionate and succulent in all that we DO - even our painful experiences will be beneficial and healing.

      thank you......
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    Jul 10 2011: We have all worked at jobs that we hated,as well as working the dream job. My present work is a childhood dream that I thought would never be realized. With making new friendships my present work fell into my lap over 16 years ago. In that time I've quit once and been fired twice,I now have an additional 25 months that I'll have to work to have in 30 years for a full retirement. That will be at age of 66,if I live that long. I enjoy my work and preform my duties well. There are some that do not have the natural ability,or even care,about what it is that they are dealing with in the duties of their work,i.e. public safety. For me,I've worked many jobs,worked until I could not stand being in the position that I was in and had to leave to find something else to do. Keep moving and searching until what it is that you are looking for enters your path. Sometimes what we think of as being our perfect job,turns out not to be. If that is the case,then we have to have our outlets for having the piece of soul to find out about ourselves that makes us happy. Ones family,friends,community work,or our hobbies to allow one to make a mark that one can live with. Whether that mark be a personal one or a mark for society we all need to feel useful and a sense of accomplishment,that is where the passion comes from.
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    Jul 10 2011: Decide that it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. I think that you don't care already, but you do. Turn off, as often as you are able, the critic in your mind and just do YOU.
  • Jul 10 2011: I consider having fully understand the purpose and meaning towards what one is doing is the primary motivating force and the rest would then follow its place ie it will then be self-motivating. Thus, strong conviction is needed. A simple case in point is the recent nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan. The no of retired engineers and physicists who volunteer themselves for the dangerous jobs of restoring the plants are highly commendable. It makes me wonder have they not worried about their loved ones and their own life's goals/aspirations that may yet be unfulfilled when so doing.... My conclusion is that they are motivated by their strong convictions that if they are the expertise in this field and for the good of their next generations (exactly because of the loved ones), they has to be the ones to answer this tough calling. That is what motivates them to overcome their fear!
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    Jul 7 2011: Our life is a great adventure that we all can embark. We first transform our lives in our daily routines, holding on to our life stations. The same life but different outlook. It's the outlook that our ignited hearts and minds see, the outlook that energizes our relationships, our work, gradually expanding into our global home.