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Are YOU Turned on? Put Your Passion into Leadership Action

September 10, 2019
(Photo by J. Taggart)

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

It’s one of my passions.

Many years ago when I worked in a regional office with a great team, I was also passionate about my work. When I later moved to the nation’s capital, where I worked for a decade before retiring in 2010, it was an ongoing struggle to remain passionate about my work. Initiative is slowly beaten out of you when you’re part of a smothering bureaucracy, where serving upwards is the order of the day. Service to Canadians was not – and still is not – the focus of senior mandarins and politicians. Unfortunately, it’s about service-to-self in the public service of Canada.

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) I was lucky to score a job with the Government of Canada. The job scene was miserable in Canada and the U.S. at that time because of a miserable recession, which had been preceded by a period of insanely high interest rates.

I’ve talked plenty in past posts about globalization, its 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’ll set yourself up to a life full of promise, hope and rewards. However, 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 when I was working as a volunteer. I love the blues, almost as much as jazz. 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 alternative blues-rock. He was terrific and showed his appreciation to the audience. One humorous point came when he exclaimed, bathed in sweat from a 100 F 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. 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. However, 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.

What’s 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

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