Someone recently asked me what’s your passion?  I thought about it for a moment and started rattling off the things I had done in my HR career and my interests.  They said that’s fine but what is your passion?  I thought I had just answered that but clearly I needed to go deeper so I started describing in detail what I liked to do and enjoyed.  Their response was again what’s your passion?

I became a little frustrated and tried to figure out what they meant by passion.  I knew I had passion yet, for some odd reason I was not describing it right.  I remained patient though and attempted several more times to satisfy them but I never did.  I was baffled and began to question what was wrong with me that I could not intelligently tell someone what my passion was.

It turns out I found my answer as I was reading Pour Your Heart into It written by Howard Schultz, the Chairman and CEO of STARBUCKS.  In the book Howard describes his passion in just one word.  Can you guess?  Sure, it is coffee.  Everything Howard has done with STARBUCK’s evolves around this one, solitary passion for coffee.  Not just any coffee, but one that is prepared from a dark roasted coffee bean.  As I thought about this I realized that passion is more than a strong feeling or emotion which is the definition of passion.  It starts there but goes far beyond that.  For example, coffee beans that are dark roasted at the highest standard of excellence are just one of STARBUCK’s 6 guiding principles.

I had a light bulb moment, ah hah!  Behind every passion are 3 important elements and without these 3 elements you do not have true passion.  The three things are preparation, desperation and perspiration.  People with a passion for something, whatever in it is, spend time preparing to be the best.  They are desperate (not depair) with a sense of urgency that drives them to achieve.  In STARBUCK’s case that was to be a National Company.  Thirdly, it takes tremendous effort to overcome the obstacles you will face fulfilling your passion so without perspiration and endurance you will give up.  That is one way to know it was not a real passion in the first place because passionate people do not give up.

So, what’s my passion?  Ironically, it took a frustrating conversation and a coffee bean for me to adequately describe what was so obvious.  My passion is people.  What’s your passion?

Tom Cairns

co-host JobTalk1

Author: All Systems Go: How to Launch a Successful Job Search