For many employees at small companies, work can feel like nothing more than a waiting room — a place where you sit for two weeks while your paycheck is being cut. In this situation, people are unmotivated, unengaged, and hungry for distraction.
We’ve all held positions like these at some point in our lives. Not only does this waste the employee’s time, but it also wastes the resources that that person has to offer to their company.
In perhaps the same way, small-business owners might find themselves flipping through their profit and loss tables, scrutinizing their expenses, and feeling like they are involved in nothing more than a numbers game — months and years spent looking for corners to cut to increase productivity or decrease operating costs. In the flood of papers and overwhelming daily tasks and distractions, you might forget why you started your business in the first place.
That feeling of indifference is, for many of us, an illustration of a lack or loss of passion for your work. This lack of passion not only affects your own happiness, but the success of your business and the happiness of your employees, clients, and customers.
What is passion?
Passion is an eruption of emotion that compels you to action. Passion is an enthusiasm for what you do and a consuming desire to pursue a vision. It is a fire set in your belly that gives you the strength to move past your fears and accomplish your goals. You can do good things without passion, but you can’t do great things.
Passion can be an outburst of happiness or rage, of creativity or injustice. But it is always heartfelt, and it is always a call to action.
Watch Bret Favre throw a football —there is more than skill and athleticism there. Watch Meryl Streep act — there is more than practice and talent there. Listen to Aretha Franklin sing — there is more than pitch and rhythm there. Read a poem by Robert Frost — there is more than rhyme and meter and diction there.
These people did not succeed merely due to their raw talent or their circumstances or their hard work. They had a force inside them pushing them forward — a force that was so large that it sparked the same feeling in everyone they met. They were filled with passion.
How does passion relate to your business?
Finding the passion in your business can help more than just office morale or customer service — it can help your bottom line. Passion can give you the motivation and fortitude to risk a new, fresh marketing campaign. Passion can give you the energy and fearlessness you need to confront difficult financial obstacles. Passion can bring together your company as a highly motivated and creative team, ready for the challenges before them.
It can mean as little as giving your company the strength to positively embrace a change in the market or a new bit of technology; it can mean as much as giving the team of your workers a common and daring vision for the future of your company.
Cultivating passion in your workplace is perhaps the best step that your company can make toward taking its next step toward greater success. Imagine that each and every person involved in your business had an active heart and an active mind and how that would impact every hour of the workday — both for the self-value of your employees and for the success of your enterprise. Imagine a fire in everyone’s belly and the energy and creativity those fires could produce.
How can you cultivate or rekindle passion in your small business?
As you might guess, passion is not something that can be manufactured and it is certainly not something that can be forced upon people. However, it is something that you can nurture, something you can feed, and something that you can encourage to grow.
Here are five steps you can take to nurture passion in your work environment:
1) Develop a unified vision for your company.
If you’ve ever been assigned a task without knowing why you were doing it, or if you’ve ever worked for a company whose philosophy you didn’t agree with, you understand the vital importance of this first step.
Every person at your company — from the owner to the president to the marketing assistant to the mail guy — should know the greater importance of what they are doing. You don’t have to be saving the world – your vision could be as simple as supplying the city with the highest quality dry cleaning at the best value – but you do have to set goals that every single person at the company can contribute to, understand, and aspire to.
2) Involve everyone in taking creative action – and make sure all tasks have a role in the greater success of your vision.
To be passionate is to have a voice, so make sure that everyone can be heard and that everyone’s ideas are taken into account.
Not only does this allow everyone to become involved and hold a creative stake in the company, but it makes practical sense: Out of everyone, your data entry person might have the best ideas concerning new software or more efficient ways to keep the books.
3) Encourage individual skills.
To a large extent, you can only be truly passionate about things that interest you and things that you naturally excel in. It follows that finding the individual and unique skills of each person in your organization is integral to uncovering their passions and their enthusiasm.
Your business might be filled with untapped resources — don’t be afraid of asking your people what they excel at and how they can apply those strengths to your company’s vision. You might be surprised at what you find and what opportunities they may lead to.
4) Encourage critical thinking, creativity, and innovation. Keep your minds active.
Don’t settle for going through the motions. Don’t settle for that same strategy, that same marketing campaign, that same seminar. Even if something is working well for you, think critically about how you could improve it further. New, exciting projects and creative, risky ideas keep everyone involved, pioneering, and invested. More than that, they often lead to original, successful, and exciting results.
5) Ignite your own passion – it’s contagious.
You set the example for your company, and anyone who has ever had an inspiring teacher, boss, or mentor knows that simply seeing passion in action is often enough to ignite it in others. If you keep your energy up, your mind open, and your desires clear, it will spread throughout your work environment.
Be someone that others can believe in. Be someone who inspires others to action.
Michelle Simms, personal and professional development coach. Her philosophy is: develop personally, as a leader, as a professional. Michelle works with individuals worldwide at �� Michelle Simms, personal and professional development coach. Her philosophy is: develop personally, as a leader, as a professional. Michelle works with individuals worldwide at www.SimmsInternational.com..