Relocation? Moving OnRealignment? Moving DownExploration? Investigating PossibilitiesVertical? Moving UpLateral? Moving AcrossEnrichment? Growing in Place
Home Strategic Talent Systems People Development Practices Individual Career Management

home > client impact: clients | testimonials & case studies | article archives > june2011

About Us
Why Mastery  
Article of the Month

< CLICK HERE to return to the Article of the Month.

Join Us on Facebook Join Us on Facebook!

Hagel, Brown, and Davison recently measured forces of long term change and found 20% of the workers in the United States were passionate about their work and that an equal amount were so disengaged that they sought to undermine colleagues at work. Passion educates, sparks creative fires, innovates, motivates, focuses more clearly, creates an inner sense of joy and well-being, creates networks, provides a raison d’être and is deeply rewarding. Some people just know what they will do in life and follow their passion early in life. You can discover your passion or your passion can discover you by seeking out what values makes you tick; discover what turns you on. Look deep inside yourself to find out “what makes your heart sing.” Examine these 12 basic human needs and see if any one of them resonates within you. Catch an emerging trend of a basic need and ride the wave to discover your passion.

Contact us to learn more about our on-line Career Coaching Toolkits, NEW eLearning, assessments, and seminars for managers.

1. See John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison, “The 2009 Shift Index: Measuring the Forces of Long-Term Change,” (San Jose, Calif.:Deloitte Development, June 2009)

2. The Apostle Study, See

3. The Walker Mode, See

4. See John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison, “The Power of Pull, How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion,” Basic Books, 2010, pp 167

5. See footnote (4) pp 168

6. See Caela Farren, Ph. D. “Who is Running Your Career: Creating Stable Work in Unstable Times” (Bard Press, 1997)

7. Entrepreneur Magazine, April 2011, pp 53 et seq.

About the Author
Caela Farren, Ph. D.
, is President of MasteryWorks, Inc., - a leading Career Development consulting organization offering innovative solutions to large and mid-size companies, including Sony, Northrop Grumman, Bayer, Sprint, Sodexo, Lockheed-Martin, and CapitalOne. MasteryWorks provides enterprise web portals, training, consulting, and an assessment framework for employees and managers. For more than thirty years, Dr. Farren has been a passionate leader around complex issues redefining the workplace. She envisioned the current workplace climate more than a dozen years ago, when she published a cornerstone compendium on career selection, “Who is Running Your Career: Creating Stable Work in Unstable Times” (Bard Press, 1997). Through MasteryWorks, Inc., she oversees solutions that create the foundation for impact-filled “career conversations” - centered on increased contribution, performance, and fit. Her strategic approach consistently delivers on employee engagement and retention goals for her clients.

Visit or contact Tom Karl, Executive Vice President for more information - or (703) 256-5712.

in the Remarkable People series

Article Archives

Send email to a friend Send Email to a Friend click here for printer friendly version
How Do You Find Your Passion?
Finding a Path to Becoming Remarkable
by Caela Farren, Ph.D., MasteryWorks, Inc.

“Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.”

—Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel


The lucky ones discover their passion early in life. But for many of us, more often than not, we simply serendipitously stumble upon our passion.
An Uninspired Workforce
There is growing evidence of increased workforce dissatisfaction and rising numbers of unremarkable, uninspired and disengaged workers. Hagel, Brown, and Davison recently measured forces of long term change and found only one out of five workers in the United States were passionate about their work and that an equal amount were “so disengaged that they actively [sought] to undermine colleagues at work.”[1] Compare this metric to a study six years ago, when the Gallup Poll found more employees were passionate about their work and fewer numbers actively disruptive.[2] Confirming this alarming trend, the Walker Loyalty Model found that 23% would prefer to work elsewhere and that more than a third of the workforce, 36% do not plan to remain employed in their current organization.[3]

Is there a way to reverse this trend and achieve higher levels of engagement? Is there a spark that will ignite the flames of passion in ordinary people to make them remarkable? In other words, is there a path to passion for a job, profession or organization and how do you find it?

How do you know you’re passionate about your work? Several years after Kelly Cushner-McCarthy finished her Masters Degree program in social work and took a job counseling highs school students in an inner-city San Francisco high school, she said that she loved her work so much that she would work for nothing. That’s passion. Passion isn’t driven by money. Passion comes from within. So how do we find it? For most of us, passion is something we find after work. It may be watching a baseball game or playing football, going to an art exhibit or painting, dancing, fishing, skiing, or love of books or reading, boating or music. However, passion for something after work and for a profession or a job at work is far from being mutually exclusive. The characteristics of passion are the same. Passion educates, sparks creative fires, innovates, motivates, improves, focuses clearly on problems and solutions, creates an inner sense of joy and well-being, transfixes permanently, increases contacts and builds networks, provides a raison d’être and is deeply rewarding.

Any kind of work can become the focal point for passion. A house painter can care deeply about colors, coverage, paint formulas and mixtures, etc. A wooden boat restorer can have philosophical and even spiritual insight into his work. If passion is supported and encouraged, it can even find itself on an automobile assembly line. “One of the real lessons that Toyota taught us is that assembly-line workers in a car factory can become enormously passionate about their work if they are treated as problem-solvers who can innovate rather than automatons who are simply carrying our detailed instructions defined by someone else. It is actually very elitist to suggest that one could not be passionate about work in certain job categories - it reveals the low opinion we have of the work.”[4]

How Do You Find Your Passion?
Some people just know what they will do in life. They are the lucky ones who discover and follow their passion early in life. They know they are going to be doctors or detectives or marine biologists or engineers; others are certain they will be firemen, lawyers or actors or singers, write novels or become ballet dancers. Being exposed to a broad expanse of experiences allows these people to compare and confirm their passions with other disciplines. If they are passionate about their choice of work in life, they will pursue it.

Passion for a job or a profession should be realistic and achievable. Dreams of playing professional basketball or second base for the New York Yankees work for very few and often fall by the wayside as an adolescent rite of passage. Some people recognize what they’re cut out for in life and that’s different from dreaming about what they would like to do. The potential for finding and developing passion for a job, work or an idea lies within each of us. It’s something that swallows us whole and wraps itself tightly to everything we are about and does not let go. Of course, dreams are a part of passion and when dreams and passion come together, it produces some very remarkable people.

“As we develop our passion, we find that we want to reach out and help others with the same passion to get better as well. We are more willing to take risks because the perceived rewards in terms of advancing our passion are so compelling. We seek out and embrace challenges, rather than trying to avoid them, because they provide us with a way to test ourselves and explore new dimensions of our passions.”

Some People Just Stumble Upon Their Passion – Kahn Academy
The lucky ones discover their passion early in life. But for many of us, more often than not, we simply serendipitously stumble upon our passion. We stumble into some unforeseen event that turns on a light bulb in our heads. See People stumble upon their passion in a variety of ways. Of course, it helps to have the training and knowledge to act when you stumble upon a new opportunity or something that needs attention.

For example, in August 2004, Salman Khan was in the Harvard MBA program and working as part-time hedge fund analyst when his niece, Nadia, asked him for help with her math homework. Math was one of his majors at MIT along with graduate degrees in computer science and electrical engineering. Being a 28 year-old computer maven, Kahn wrote some code that generated problems his niece could do on a website. With Khan's help, Nadia made it through the advanced course and her younger brothers signed on for Khan's tutoring as well. When some of their friends needed help, Khan built his site out and grouped the concepts into "modules" and created a database that would keep track of how many problems the kids had tried and how they were progressing. He created videos on YouTube. The videos were each about 10 minutes long with diagrams and voice-over. He posted the first video on Nov. 2006.

Less than five years later, Khan's free website, called the Khan Academy, has become the most popular educational web site in the world. Two million students visit monthly and Kahn Academy has served up more than 54 million individual lessons. Google awarded the Khan Academy $2 million in September of 2010, when Kahn Academy won a contest which offered $10 million to five organizations that would change the world. Khan's March speech at TED 2011 Ideas Conference is a stunning story about how one man stumbled upon his passion to become remarkable.

Discovering Your Dharma
You can find your passion by discovering who you are. Stand in front of the mirror and look at your inner self in the daylight. Seek out what values makes you tick; discover what turns you on. Look deep inside yourself to find out “what makes your heart sing.” In Hinduism and Buddhism, dharma is the ultimate law of things. It is their essential nature. The dharma of fire is to burn, of wind to blow. To discover your passion, find your dharma. Know and believe that there is always one job that you can do better than anyone else in the world. It’s the dream job that you would love to be doing more than anything else. What is it?

Have the courage to seek your core. The first step is to ask friends and family what they most value about you. Perhaps you can find a picture or a photo that represents your core or maybe it’s a metaphor that best expresses you. Then ask others how they see you, how do other people describe you? What do they see as your driving force? What do they think makes you tick? How do you and others define your personality traits? Are you analytical, emotional, firm, funny inquiring, quick, upbeat, warm, etc.? What interests you the most? Is it people ideas, data, or things? What’s at the top of your “care about” list? What gives you the most meaning and inspires you, makes you the happiest? List the most important parts of your life at home and at work. Ask yourself what you do and what you would like to do. Why are you doing it? What role do you play in your work? What do you want to achieve in life? What values or issues do you care about deeply? What people or situations do you want to affect? What do you feel that urgently needs to be changed? What can you do to change those things? Keep seeking your core. It is through this kind of introspection, that you may begin to hear an inner voice urging you to do what is uniquely yours. Discover your passion and follow it.

The 12 Basic Needs and Riding the Trends
There are 12 human needs that are timeless constants at the center of our human experience. Professions, industries, organizations and jobs exist and evolve to meet and support one or more of these human needs. If you have not found your passion at work or your passion has not found you, examine these 12 basic human needs and see if any one of them resonates within you. Listed by topics, they are: Shelter, Family, Work and Career, Social Relationships, Health, Financial Security, Learning, Transportation, Environment, Community, Leisure and Spirituality. These twelve basic human needs propel the evolution of our world and our own lives. Which needs pique your interest? Resonate deeply within you? Which profession or job would you choose to support that basic human need?[6]

Once you have found a basic human need that seems appealing, you will need to catch the trends and, like a surfer, ride the waves of emerging innovation. For example, Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle, chose the Environment as the basic human need he wanted to pursue. As a freshman at Princeton, he started by bagging and selling worm poop as fertilizer, eventually hitting on a trend to build a multi-million dollar, multi-national organization in the green market. He followed an innovative trend of up-cycling environmental technology by transforming and reinventing otherwise disposable items into something of higher quality. It’s the ultimate in reuse.[7]

Sustainability consulting is one of the great green growth trends of the next few years. For example, Wal-Mart requires all 100,000 vendors around the world to answer 15 basic questions about their products, like the amount of water used, the amount of greenhouse gases emitted, etc., in order to create a sustainability score card for the products and then inform consumers of the eco-friendliness of the products it sells. Small and midsize companies in the Wal-Mart supply chain needed to bring in consultants. Katherine Jennrich at UNC Chapel Hill rides green house gas trends in a consulting business to reduce suppliers’ carbon footprints and increase energy efficiency. Jennifer Woofter, the founder of Strategic Sustainability Consulting, helps suppliers make their eco-decisions, conducts industry surveys and mentors others. Within organizations, John Rego is a star environmentalist as Director of Sustainability for Sony Entertainment. Whether working with environmental issues or building an on-line social dating service, connect to a basic human need, then follow the trends and discover your passion.


Client Impact
Strategic Partners
Customer Demos
Contact Us
Browse by Services
Toolkits and Portals

Copyright 2014 MasteryWorks, Inc. Privacy Statement