The Passion of The Explorer or The End of Your Great Career

Gran Canaria - Maspalomas Dunes at SunsetIf a couple of days ago I was talking about job satisfaction, about happiness at work, that is, Arbejdsglæde, I think I am now ready to take things into the next level and declare, out loud and clear, how we may be running through that particular point in time where it may well be a good thing now to come to terms with the fact that you, too, will fail to have a great career. Get over it. Move on. Shocking, don’t you think? Well, what would you do about it? Keep trying? Really hard? Or give up on it altogether and be at the mercy of a world of mediocrity? 

That’s pretty much the wonderfully inspiring proposition from Professor Larry Smith, at University of Waterloo in Canada, that he presented at a TEDx UW Talk event back in 2011 and which, funny enough, seems to be making the rounds out there on the Social Web at the moment, two years later. Specially, after this particularly inspiring Forbes article interview, where he talked extensively about his speech and what he actually meant with it. Quite a thought provoking read, just as much as the TEDx event with some rather witty and smart quotes, like this one:

Find and use your passion and you’ll have a great career. Don’t do it, you won’t. It’s as simple as that. People don’t look for their passion because they haven’t tasted it. If you’ve never tasted what it’s like to get up in the morning and be pleased to go to work, you don’t know what you’re missing

Or this other one, which pretty much nails it for me at this point in time for my own career: 

Get out doors. Do it all. Talk to as many different people as you can. Read as much different stuff as you can. Go out and see things—industrial tours, museums, walk on the street and look at what you see. Plug yourself into the whole array of human experiences. Don’t do one of them. Do all of them. And if you do, how can you not find something that you can’t stop thinking about? Read things outside of a narrow band of books, talk to people outside of a narrow band of a few friends

 

 

Yes, indeed, curiosity can be such a wonderful thing! But even more, curiosity, inspired by serendipity, is just unstoppable. It’s that glue that makes magic happen, specially, on the Social Web. And that’s essentially, in a nutshell, one the main reasons why over 13 years ago I turned into social networks and social networking tools: curiosity, serendipity and passion.

Absolutely! That’s the whole point behind the 15 minute long presentation from Prof. Smith, where if there is a single reason out there that would be solely responsible for your failure to have a great career is, amongst several other things, that potential lack of passion in what you do. Followed behind, very closely, but that constant fear of failing, of learning (and wanting to learn even some more!), of trying. You name it. Actually, he *does* that for you enumerating plenty of the several reasons as to why we can’t keep advancing forward in our careers due to that lack of passion. 

Interestingly enough, this is not the first time (Nor the last one for that matter, I am sure!) I get to talk about over here, in this blog, about the whole topic around passion, specially, in the Social Era of Open Business. And I am not going to be the only one either talking about the huge impact of bringing in your passion for what you do at work. We have seen how it’s an integral part of what drives social networks (Specifically, for that inner urge of connecting with other passionate believers to share and learn about that common interest). We have seen how it’s going to be one of the major key drivers of the future of work, as my good friend, Ross Dawson, brilliantly blogged about, just recently. We have seen how it transforms people’s lives to levels no other human trait is capable of accomplishing over the course of time. And the list goes on and on and on… 

But if there is a particular aspect about it that I really enjoy in terms of how it describes the way I see passion myself, specially, in the context of the Social Web and work, in general, is the brilliant dissertation shared across a little while ago by my good friend John Hagel under the rather suggestive title of “Exploring Passion – what kind of passion do you have?“, which he then developed further in a short speech that can be found over here and which culminated on another TEDx event (WestLake) that I thought would be worth while sharing across over here as well in this article. Yes, it’s that good and I just couldn’t help embedding it below as we speak: 

John gets to talk about how passion and engagement are not the same thing. He gets to describe four different passions that pretty much drive our interactions. To name: 

  • “Passion of the fan
  • Passion of the player
  • Passion of the true believer
  • Passion of the explorer”

I am sure that at this point in time you are all thinking about what kind of passion do you have and whether that would translate into what you bring to work. Or not. So I will leave you to read all of the various different descriptions for each and everyone of them that he talks about, and I would include over here, in this article, the one that I think is driving most of what I do: the passion of the explorer. And here is why: 

The explorer commits to a domain, usually one that is broadly defined, and is excited about the prospect of making a growing impact in the domain over a long period of time, often a life-time. But here’s a key difference relative to the true believer. The explorer has no idea where they will end up and they have little sense of the long-term path they will pursue. That’s part of their excitement, they get to carve out their own path as they go and they get to be surprised about where it leads

To then pretty much state, loud and clear, what passion to those explorers really means in terms of how things work for them: 

Explorers also reach out to connect with others. They are constantly seeking new challenges that will test them and help them to make an increasing impact in their domain. As a result, they’re always seeking others who either share their passion or who have some expertise that’s relevant to the challenges they are confronting

And there you have it… After having watched both inspiring speeches I am starting to think that I might as well fail to have a great career in the long run, after all, but, then again, for as long as that passion of the explorer keeps driving my core beliefs and inspiring my day to day interactions for what I truly believe in the area of Open Business, that is, I know I may be experiencing moments of weakness, here and there, where one would be inclined to head out through the easy way. But then again, let’s not forget, we are here for the long journey, for the experience, for embarking on that constant learning curve where you will not know, ever, where you will end up, nor that you would care much about it either. Essentially, you have come to terms with the fact that you are just planting the seeds for a harvest that will be collected afterwards. After you are long gone, but, to you, it’s that kind of sacrifice you are willing to make: because their success will be your success

And it all starts with passion. Your passion. 

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