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Are YOU Turned on? Put Your Passion into Action

October 21, 2012

I love music, whether it’s listening or playing Jazz piano.

It’s one of my passions.

Many years ago I was also passionate about my work; but that was slowly beaten out of me when I moved to the Nation’s capital in 2000 and worked in several federal government head offices for a decade. It’s pretty disempowering to go from a situation of having a great deal of responsibility and leeway to one where you’re on a choke chain.

When I re-entered the job market in 1982, after earning a Masters degree in economics (following a couple of years working for a finance company) the scene was miserable. But the current and future situation is the worst for young people, in my mind, since the end of the Great Depression.

I feel bad for Gen Y which has unexpectedly entered a horrendously bad labor market. Indeed, my four kids are all Gen Y, ranging in age from 23 to 33. Fortunately, they’ll all actively employed.

I’ve talked plenty in past posts about globalization, the impacts on leadership and people, and the importance of continuous learning and reinventing yourself. What I’m talking about in this post is PASSION!

Passion may not pay the bills at first, but by putting your passion into action you will set yourself up to a life full of promise, hope and rewards. But you have to remain focused, unrelenting and open to change. As I’ve said in the past, be open to outcome, not attached to it.

The photo in this post was taken at the Ottawa Blues Festival in July 2010. I love the blues. One of the musicians I happened to watch one steaming hot afternoon was Shane Dwight, born in San Jose, California, but who moved to Nashville to get his career started.

Shane plays what I’ll call alternative blues-rock. He was really good and showed his appreciation to the audience. One humorous point came when he exclaimed, bathed in sweat from a 100F temperature after delivering a blistering guitar solo, “I didn’t know that Ottawa got this hot!” And then he laid into his guitar for more great riffs.

I’ve watched hundreds of musicians, driven them around as a volunteer and carried their equipment. Most musicians earn crap for income. They typically carry side jobs to pay the bills. But what makes them unique is that they’re passionate about what they do. I’ve thought a lot about how musicians bring such joy to society, whether the talented up-and-comer who supplements her income by waiting on tables, or the well-known musician who took a wrong turn down drug alley. The Jazz , Blues and Rock genres are replete with these cases.

It’s unfortunate that many people in mainstream society can’t get as passionate about their work. I recall many instances of past co-workers who had hidden talents, but who outside of the office led fascinating lives. Some were excellent singers, others painters and photographers, and some did extraordinary community volunteer work. But as soon as they, along with the rest of the staff, entered the office, they put on their work-face, complying with corporate edicts and not rocking the boat.

Take some time to reflect on what fires up your passion and how you approach life. To help you get started, read the short quotation from Barbara DeAngelis. What is YOUR life’s work?


All of us are here on this Earth with Work to do, but your Work has nothing to do with your job.

– Barbara DeAngelis


Photo by J. Taggart (Shane Dwight, Ottawa Blues Fest, 2010)


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