“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
– Howard Thurman
Earlier this week I attended the London School of Economic Alternative Investment Conference featuring an impressive line up of speakers from the world of Hedge Funds and Private Equity. With students flying in from 75 countries, it was the biggest student conference of its kind in the world.
Whilst listening to a panel discussion on Tuesday afternoon about the future of Private Equity Finance, one of the undergraduates from audience asked a question about career prospects within the industry.
Interestingly, the overwhelming feedback from the 5 highly successful people on the panel was:
“If you want to pursue a career in Private Equity because you’ll make lots of money, because it will make you look good or because it’s fashionable – please don’t bother.
“But if you’re passionate about Private Equity and feel that what we do makes a difference – then and only then apply and pursue your ambitions.”
Who’d have thought it hey?
A bunch of people renowned for buying and selling businesses to create profits for investors, advocating that you follow the passion in your career instead of chasing the profit and status.
But they’re absolutely right. People who are passionate about what they do, are happier, less stressed and more successful in their careers.
Here are 3 ways you can start getting more passionate about your work and career:
1. Find work which you’re passionate about
The obvious way. Find work which plays to your natural strengths, work which you enjoy. Work which excites you and doesn’t really feel like work. It feels more like play than work.
But finding work you’re passionate about doesn’t happen overnight. Here are two further ways to do passionate work now instead of waiting until ‘one day.’
2. Get passionate about the job you already have
In the early part of my career I was stuck in a role which didn’t play to my strengths and didn’t particularly excite me. So during my time with the UK retailer Marks & Spencer, I focussed my energy on finding opportunities which I was passionate about. So I’d take every opportunity to lead teams through change, to coach individuals in my team to move onto bigger and better roles, and I’d jump at the chance to deliver workshops and development programmes for junior management teams.
Effectively, by tapping into my passions I found an exit route and laid the foundation for much of what I do today.
So take a close look at your existing role and employer – and look to find opportunities to express your talents, to do exciting, interesting work which isn’t necessarily part of the day job.
3. Find something away from work to get passionate about
It’s not always possible to find an activity at work which you can get passionate about. If that’s the case, then find ‘work’ away from your paid job that enables you to come alive.
Volunteer, offer your skills on a pro-bono basis, get involved with a non-profits venture that you’re passionate about. Or start working on that home based business idea in the evenings / weekends or helping family/friends with their venture. Start a course based around something you love doing. Or start a blog and write about the things you’re passionate about and start sharing ideas and connecting online with like minded people.
Do the things that make you come alive and over time, you may in fact be able to build a new income stream from these activities and ultimately transition away from your current role and career.
Haven’t got the time?
Well if it’s something you’re truly passionate about it should feel more like a hobby and less like ‘work’. (e.g. I’m writing this article at 11pm at night – but I don’t see it as ‘work’ so it’s not really a chore). So watch less TV, spend less time surfing the web, less time on social media, less time doing things that aren’t important – and more time doing things that you enjoy doing simply for the love of it.
Spending your career just chasing after money, status, promotions and job titles will never make you truly happy or successful in the long run – even in the lucrative world of Private Equity Finance.
Of course you need to find work which brings the income and lifestyle you want. But if you compliment that with doing work which you’re passionate about, whilst using your natural god-given talent – you’ll be happier, healthier and more successful. And very often, just like the speakers I saw at the conference this week – you’ll find that money, status and external trappings of success will follow too.