Find Your Passion

Great leaders & innovators are driven by a vision for how things could be. This passion underlies the motivation & initiative it takes to move from vision to reality.

Here’s the old-school way of thinking: people are motivated by carrots or sticks (incentives or punishment). But as Dan Pink points out in Drive, research in neuroscience & psychology has shown us that people are motivated by far different reasons than conventional wisdom says. While personal safety & gain are motivators, what truly fuels us is our passion to be part of something bigger than ourselves, choose our own path, & contribute our knowledge & expertise. Pink sums it up as autonomy, mastery, & purpose.

If you can find your “WHY,” your purpose & passion, you will love your work. This is what keeps great innovators going & makes things happen in big ways—or small. But you don’t have to be leading a big project or be in a position of authority to find your WHY & help others find theirs.

In fact, all of us can lead from where we are by finding meaningful ways to engage, respecting the skills & talents of others, & promoting shared decision making.

Wow, that sounds a lot like effective collaboration. Go figure, we are social creatures. You are programmed to connect with others. Research has traced our cooperative social interactions to a series of consistent brain activity in areas linked with reward processing. In fact, theorists propose that social emotions—pride or gratitude, for example, evolved to preserve community and relationships. But it gets even deeper. Beyond rewarding you for altruistic behavior, your brain contains additional adaptations that evolved to help you get along with others—even depend on them.

Why should this matter to you as you seek your purpose and passion? Well, if you can’t connect and build rapport with others authentically and honestly, you won’t find as much meaning in the work you do. So in the search to find your passion, help others along the journey and chances are you’ll be inspired in ways you never expected.

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