Passion for Work? Absolutely!

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Air Force folks don't go to work each day to load airplanes, guard gates, give shots, produce reports or build widgets. We get up each morning to work long hours because we understand it's part of our life mission to serve each other and help meet the needs of a desperate world. 

I had an opportunity recently to visit a C-5 maintenance shop for an up-close and personal tour of a C-5. The trip was fun and educational climbing around and on top of that huge plane, but what really impressed me was the enthusiasm and passion our tour guides had for getting their jobs done. They were excited and passionate about their mission and it showed! 

How do you feel most of the time about your work? Do you love it? Hate it? Maybe just tolerate it? Your organization's success depends on your (and if you're a supervisor, your people's) creativity, innovation and dedication. We greatly increase our personal performance, and have more fun along the way, by developing passionate, inspired workers. And passionate people raise the standard of performance. This commitment to a higher standard spreads throughout the organization and becomes infectious. 

Passion is difficult to describe, but we all know it when we see it. Anyone who has watched Tiger Woods play golf, Robin Williams perform, replays of the 28-mile Berlin Wall being chipped away, or the excitement of the 1999 U.S. Women's Soccer Team has seen passion in action. Passion is a force that infuses life with meaning and joy, and sometimes even passionate outrage stirs the soul to action. 

Why is passion so important? Because passion creates commitment and determination and often provides the spark of energy people need to tackle their toughest challenges. Passion creates the energy and drive to take on the impossible. According to Donald Trump, to be fully successful at work, you've got to love what you do - you have to develop passion to be truly happy. Without passion, we simply won't have the energy and purpose to thrive during increasingly stressful and confusing times. 

We personally experience passion when something in the outer world strongly pulls at something in our inner world - when our deepest beliefs are fully engaged and excited. Passion is the fire that burns within. Will this happen at work in our duty sections - can ordinary people develop such a passion for what they do that they create an electric and exciting workplace that energizes others? Absolutely! 

Management consultant Dr. Ed Gubman recommends four ways to foster passion in ourselves or in those we supervise: 

First, identify your gifts and talents and strive to match these with your work environment. Seek the right job for yourself - and place the right people in the right jobs according to their interests, skills, values, and personalities. 

Second, improve your people management skills. In the best companies, managers and leaders are relationship driven and get results with people, not at their expense. 

Third, keep improving your workplace practices. Every duty section can always be better - work on everything that needs improving. Share your ideas and listen to people about what they need to get their jobs done to become more passionate about their work. And then spend your attention and money in these areas. 

Finally, create a friendly, fun work environment free from fear of mistakes. Build a work setting where people know that teamwork and mutual help are expected and reciprocated. 

One of the most exciting benefits from cultivating passion in the workplace is the contagious enthusiasm it produces. Passionate people are fun to be around and inspire others to become alive. Our 21st Century Air Force and the 47th Flying Training Wing are called upon to face many challenges that will require the best from the best. A passionate Air Force not afraid to take on the toughest issues will allow us to train and fly boldly and confidently into the future!