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Are passions Flexible?

Are Passions Flexible?

‘Flexible Passions’ is the Key to Overseas Career Success: Psychology

The latest study by Psychologists has revealed that the key to Overseas Career Success is having flexibility for passions. There is immense pressure on fresh graduates and professionals to identify the ‘Dream Job’. This implies a career that you value and are passionate about.

However, at times, everything does not fall as per our plans. The career that you pin your future happiness does not prove to be equally fulfilling.

Yale-NUS College and Stanford University Psychologists have said that such feelings arise out of the idea of fixed passions in life. Some people are flexible to develop fresh areas of interest and expanding skill sets. Meanwhile, others are rigid with a defined area and reluctant to explore beyond, as quoted by the Study International.

A student with fixed passions realizes that in real passion is a black and white myth. While managing their finances as a business intern or creative freelancer, they are saddled with jobs beyond the job description. Thus, the feeling that their career is going beyond fixed passions can make them feel at loss.

The fact of the dynamic job market today is that positions are rarely confined to niche responsibilities. Automation evolution in the workplace is rewriting the job market now.

It has been estimated that 85% of the jobs that will be present in 2030 are yet to be created. This is as per DELL, the tech powerhouse. Thus, there is a risk that the passions of students could die out in the changing scenario. This is especially for those with fixed passions and struggling to explore beyond.

The report encourages students to accept a mindset of growth. This is accepting the ability of everyone to learn passions and interests. It discourages to view these as innate ideas.

Being flexible instills students with the elasticity to adapt to an unpredictable and dynamic economy. This will also enable to think out-of-the-box for their industry.

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Why is Passion Overrated?

Why is Passion Overrated?

Why Passion is Overrated (instead, here’s what you should do)

I often hear people say if they only had a real passion, they would be able to follow it, break free from their mundane job and create their dream life.

But what to do when you don’t have a passion? Are you just supposed to wait until it one day magically drops from the sky to rescue you?

I feel there’s this mistaken belief, that some people ‘have a passion’ for something, which enables them to live a fabulous, meaningful life, whereas others don’t and thus are stuck in the hamster wheel.

When I look back at my last business, an innovative health product, it all started because I was desperate to get out of my first business, which at the time was a luxury franchise in India. What do I love doing I asked myself? I felt completely blank and confused. It didn’t help that well-meaning family member and friends just told me to follow a different passion. What if I didn’t have one?

This is where a lot of people get stuck.

I was certainly stuck until I realised that doing something is better than doing nothing. You learn a lot from doing something. Anything is better than nothing.

I went into the kitchen, with the sole aim to lose myself in the creative process of baking a cake. I like baking as it relaxes me, and I enjoy it even more when I manage to make a cake which is healthy AND delicious.

Never for a moment did I think my pursuits in the kitchen would result in a new career direction (which, for a while, it didn’t.)

Here’s the best part:

What I didn’t know at the time, was that I had sparked my own curiosity. I started experimenting with unusual and obscure ingredients, such as ‘superfoods’ from exotic countries. Although many of my creations bombed (spirulina cake, never again please), some were edible, and a few even delicious. Now I got even more hooked on finding weird ingredients online, and this is when I for the first time stumbled upon cricket flour. Roasted, pulverised, insects.

Why would anyone add ground up insects to a cake you may ask? Well, first of all crickets actually taste a bit like roasted nuts, they’re healthy (high in protein), and second, farming insects is extremely sustainable.

What if I could mix some of this cricket flour into a healthy snack, and sell it to health and environmentally conscious people? I got hooked!

THIS was the point where I can truly say the project became a passion.

But this was 6 months after looking for a new ‘passion’, not finding it, and instead showing curiosity in what I’d call my ‘mild interest in baking’.

This is the word I want to emphasize – curiosity.

It’s like a milder, more accessible version of passion. Passion can seem intimidating and out of reach, only available to a lucky few. Curiosity on the other hand is available to everyone. You just need to follow one, small clue, and see where it takes you. Then follow the next clue, and the next, and the next.

This is how you can eventually expect to discover amazing new things, including passions.

Look at it this way – having a passion means giving all your attention and energy to whatever is in front of you right now. Not only does it feel exciting and meaningful, it is certainly more worthwhile than doing NOTHING but waiting for passion to fall into you lap.

I’d love to know if you have ever been in a situation where your initial interest in something turned into a full-blooded passion?

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What is your Passion? Let’s Define it first

What is your Passion? Let's Define it first

What Is Your Passion?

As we all know, statistically the majority of Americans are not happy with their jobs or career. I am not going to pin point any specific numbers, because the percentage varies from 60 to 80%, depending on which source you’re looking at. Either way, it makes me wonder, why is it that so many people are unhappy with their careers. Was it a poor career choice to start with or perhaps they were passionate about their jobs in the beginning and over time that passion wore off? Many people I talk to claim that they don’t know what they are passionate about or they think they are not passionate about anything at all. If that’s you, I have good news – yes you do have a passion and I bet you even know what it is and we’ll get to it later.

First, let’s define what passion is. The dictionary defines passion as a powerful compelling emotion or feeling or desire. By my definition, passion is not just a feeling or desire, in my opinion it also involves action. I define passion as a compelling, self-generated desire to create something or make something happen over a long period of time without any immediate promise of a reward. Different from motivation which typically involves a promised reward in the end or a simple inspiration, which typically happens in the moment, passion is something that lasts for months, or even years and the immediate rewards are rare. Most of the time we are not even thinking about the rewards as doing what we are passionate about is a reward in itself. There are times you may not even feel motivated to do anything, yet your passion will find a way to make it happen.

If you look back and think about what made you decide to choose the career you’re currently in, what was it? Was it your desire to make your parent proud? Were you chasing fame and fortune, carefully calculating which career would be the most profitable and where you could be most successful? Or did you just mind your own business ignoring and resisting everyone’s advice until a perfect at the time job opportunity simply fell into your lap? Regardless of what your personal story about it is, somehow you ended up being in a place you are in right now – unhappy about your job and staying there because you need to pay your bills. The real question is, did you really follow your passion to pick your career? For some of you this may be the answer to your misery. Some of you may argue that initially you were passionate and loved what you were doing, you may even still love the work itself, but the politics are a mess, too much overtime work, your co-workers are mean, you are not getting paid enough and yada yada yada…

If you were passionate about your job in the beginning, what happened over time? What made you lose your passion and why can’t you feel it anymore? Let me speak to that. Think of a passion as a fire, a self-generated fire, that initially gets ignited deep within your soul. This fire has a potential to grow stronger overtime and burn brighter, or it can die off overtime. All fires need fuel in order to continue burning. Your passion needs more than one type of fuel in order to continue to burn brighter, although some fuel types can keep it alive longer while others are missing.

The first and the biggest fuel that will keep your passion going for the longest is making a contribution and helping others. If other people are not getting any value or benefit from whatever you are doing, you will eventually want to stop doing it. The other fuel is support from others: family, friends, co-workers, clients, your career coach J. The third important fuel system is having a balanced lifestyle where you get to spend enough time with your family and not work all the time. Your compensation is also a fuel for your passion, although not the strongest one. I am not saying money is not important. But sometimes many of us can survive for long periods of time on low income if we get to do what we love. But even the happiest low-income individuals complain about money or the high cost of living every now and then. And finally, in order to keep the fire of your passion alive, you have to grow in your career – constantly expanding and learning new things.

Finally, for those of you who think you don’t have any passions or you don’t know what you are passionate about – I believe you do, you simply don’t think you have enough fuel to keep your passion going and your fire has been long extinguished by the sold water of many reasons why what you really want to do won’t work.


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Understanding Motivations of Your Own & Others in 4 Steps

Understanding Motivations of Your Own & Others in 4 Steps

An employee leaves shortly after receiving a raise. A team exceeds an ambitious stretch goal. A top achiever’s performance slides for no apparent reason.

Sometimes managers are surprised by these outcomes, which may be due to a mismatch between a manager’s beliefs about employee motivation and what actually motivates a particular employee. Complicating matters, what motivates one employee may not motivate another. Managers actually understanding motivations of their employees – not how they believe they are motivated but what actually motivated them – may lead to positive organizational outcomes.

Recently, researchers at the University of San Diego published a study in the Journal of Business Administration Research that developed and validated a psychological test to assess which motivational theories a manager believes in called the motivation beliefs inventory (MBI). The researchers explain that managers tend to hold erroneous beliefs about what motivates employees, overemphasizing certain factors, such as job security and compensation, and underemphasizing others, such as meaningful work and growth.

Using the MBI, managers’ beliefs can be assessed along four key motivation theories that have emerged since the early twentieth century: reinforcement theory (RT), expectancy-valence theory (EVT), achievement motivation theory (AMT), and self-determination theory (SDT).

Theories of Motivation
Reinforcement theory is based on using positive and negative reinforcements to incentivize employees to behave in a desired manner. In expectancy-valence theory, motivation can be determined by first examining the emotional desirability, attractiveness, and anticipated satisfaction of a particular outcome. A manager must then assess the likelihood of a particular course of action, such as assigning a particular project to an employee to bring about a desired result at a given time in the future.

Achievement motivation theory (AMT) purports that meeting three separate psychological needs motivate an individual: achievement, affiliation, and power. It is comprised of:

(1) socialized needs for achievement, affiliation, and power;
(2) striving to achieve something novel or record-breaking;
(3) challenge level of a goal;
(4) competing to win.

Finally, self-determination theory (SDT) posits, “individuals are naturally inclined to engage in and increase competence within their environments.” SDT suggests that the most important factor in motivating individuals is to create a positive environment that allows autonomy. In contrast to Reinforcement Theory, employees under SDT will be most successful and satisfied with their work in situations that are free of incentives and punishments.

The Three M’s
Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business School discusses similar origins to motivation as the motivation beliefs inventory. She believes that mastery, membership, and meaning are the three “M”s that motivate employees. Kanter’s view intersects most with achievement motivation theory, both on mastery (achievement) and membership (affiliation). When discussing mastery, she advocates enabling people to develop deep skills and shape their future through stretch goals. In fact, behavioral economist Dan Ariely asserts that the more difficult the challenge the prouder a person feels of their achievement. This also aligns with achievement motivation theory in that the importance of the achievement is further magnified for the most challenging goals.

Kanter’s second “M,” membership, also aligns with the affiliation component of achievement motivation theory. The traditional view of affiliation focuses on pleasing others and gaining their approval. However, Kanter’s view of this sense of belonging is different. She believes that honoring individuality within the work community provides deeper connections than what she calls “superficial conformity.”

For Kanter’s third component she focuses on meaning rather than power, as in achievement motivation theory. However, these two concepts have more in common than initially meets the eye. Employees find their work meaningful when they understand the larger purpose of their daily tasks. As a manager, explaining the positive impact that an employee’s work has on the world is important. While in some industries and functions this may be more challenging than in others, an adaptation of this would be to show the positive impact that the employee’s function has on the organization itself.

According to achievement motivation theory, power is associated with the need to influence and have an impact on others. In fact, while Kanter’s concept of meaning focuses solely on impact, the power concept in achievement motivation theory adds another dimension through the need to influence and impact others. Also, the concept of power requires the work to simply have an impact, while meaning requires that impact to be positive.

So what can we do with this knowledge and growing opportunities to understand ourselves and others motivations with tools such as the MBI?

4 Steps to Understanding Your Own & Others Motivations:

1) Understand Your Perspective
Use comprehensive tools such as the MBI to develop a better understanding of your own assumptions of motivations in the workplace. Spend time to analyze the general factors that motivate people and your perceptions of motivation in the workplace. Try to recognize any biases you may hold and what motivates you personally; Incentives? Autonomy? Impact on your organization? Working with others? Objectively piece together your own motivation beliefs puzzle as you build your self-awareness.

2) Distinguish Between Perception and Reality
Are your assumptions about others’ motivations correct or incorrect? As The University of San Diego researchers note, managers often hold erroneous assumptions about employees’ motivation triggers. A good tool to determine if your past motivation techniques were successful can be found in past outcomes. What motivation techniques (incentives, autonomy) led to particularly great outcomes for an employee? What motivation factors were present when an outcome was negative? Each employee is motivated differently and a pattern should emerge about their preferences.

3) Put Yourself in Their Shoes & Initiate an Open Dialogue
Leave behind your own mindset and try to enter your employees’. Acknowledging that you have your own perceptions was the first step. Now you need to quiet that perception to understand someone else’s. Taking the time to be in the same mental space as your employee can have immense benefits.
After you have identified a plausible pattern and done your best to understand their perspective, open a discussion with your employee about your interpretations. This may help illustrate the differences between your motivation beliefs and theirs, as well as allowing you to hear what your team member thinks he or she needs.

4) Recalibrate Based On Your Findings
Reflection and discussion should bring clarity to your own views and the beliefs of your team members on what motivates them. Apply this new knowledge to adapt your leadership style. Use tools such as task allocation, incentives, and granting autonomy depending on what motivation style works best for each team member. While individuals are motivated in different ways, remember to remain fair and objective to maintain a sense of equity.

5) Track Your Results
As with any change, track the results of your motivation tools and outcomes. Positive outcomes will be amplified if you can identify and continue to implement them. Negative outcomes will be minimized by tracking their causes and discontinuing use of those tools.

To motivate employees effectively, managers would be well-served to develop awareness of their own views about what motivates employees. The motivational beliefs inventory may assist in this goal. After assessing their own beliefs in general, managers should also consider what factors motivate each of their employees. As managers assign various tasks and responsibilities among team members, they should seek to align those allocations with the factors they believe will motivate each of their employees.

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Are You a Wanderer or an Explorer?

Are You a Wanderer or an Explorer?

Question for you...Are you a Wanderer or are you an Explorer?

I asked this question to a colleague who was in a funk. He was going through one of those moments we ALL go through. That moment of self-pity. The moment when we feel that our life sucks and everyone else's life is perfect. That moment when we ask ourselves, "What the hell am I doing with my life?"

Two nights ago, when I got home from work, my youngest asked me to go on a walk after dinner. I agreed and asked her where she wanted to walk.

"I want to walk to the middle school then to the lake at the park. I want to feed the ducks and the turtles. Then I want to walk up through the botanical garden and then to my old preschool. I want to walk past the house with the cute pugs and then head home."

She knew what she wanted to do, what she wanted to see and where she wanted to explore. She had a plan with specific goals.

When we returned my wife asked her about the walk. She was excited because did what she wanted, which was spend time with me, feed the ducks and turtles, run around among the hiding places in the botanical garden and pet the pugs. The excitement in her voice was very noticeable. It was a good night.

As we go through life, we have a choice to live life with a purpose or just take what life gives us.

Living life with a purpose means we have a specific destination that we want to reach and we have a path we want to take there. Having a destination makes life worth living. It gives our life meaning and makes us happy to be alive. It gives us a path to explore on our way to our goal.

Wanderers, on the other hand, have no destination in mind. They just aimlessly travel from place to place. No plan. No path. No destination. No fun.

Every time I have found myself wandering instead of exploring I have fallen into that trap of self-pity, low self-esteem and general dissatisfaction with life. During these times my mind goes to dark places where I question what I'm doing on this earth and am I worthy. We all have these moments. It's just part of being human.

What is important for us, when going through these moments, is to realize that we are no longer exploring on our way to a destination, but instead, we are now wandering aimlessly. We have no goals. Nothing to shoot for. And that is why we are feeling down on ourselves.

The best and quickest way to snap out of it is to sit down and figure out the next destination. Then figure out the path to that goal. And then get exploring!

So let me ask you again, "Are you a Wanderer or are you an Explorer?"

Happy exploring!

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How to Fuel Your Passion

How to Fuel your Passion

8 Strategies to Ignite Your Passion


Passion is not just the way to happiness--it's also the fuel that ignites success. Having passion for a particular goal, whether personal or professional, provides the energy and motivation to take the actions necessary to achieve that goal. It's the intangible component that explains why some people and teams are better able to stick with their plans and achieve greater levels of success.

Here are eight strategies that the highest-performing leaders use to get the most from themselves and others.

1. Give passion to get passion.

Think about how you respond to others. Are your responses filled with enthusiasm or are they flat and lifeless? The level of your energy will be reflected back to you--it's your boomerang to the world.

2. Value your values.

Just as important as what you do is how you do it. Living and working in alignment with your values reflects your passion as a person. Living your values also engenders the respect and commitment of others, who will see you as a leader of integrity.

3. Communicate with your community.

The word "communication" comes from the Latin root meaning "community." The best leaders surround themselves with others who share their motivation. Stay connected with your community to find support, to learn, to teach and to remain energized to stick with it.

4. Listen to Yoda. 

In the words of the Star Wars Jedi Master Yoda, "Do or do not. There is no try." If you are nervous that your plan won't work, you might find yourself saying, "Okay, I'll try to do it." You are laying the foundation for being unsuccessful from the beginning by giving yourself a way out. Yoda's adage is a passionate reminder that life rewards those who let their actions rise above their excuses.

5. Be still. 

Start each day in quiet meditation or prayer. Refresh your mind and refocus your heart on what you are passionate about. Concentrate on one new thing you can do that day to deepen your passion and make progress toward your goal ... even if it's something you don't like to do. Your passion helps you endure those daily disciplines that build the foundation of your success.

6. Enjoy the journey.

If it's only about achieving the goal, you are likely to lose steam along the way. Take time to be a human being, not just a human doing. Although high-achieving leaders have a laser-like focus, they also relish being in the moment. My favorite poem says it best: "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift ... that's why we call it the Present."

7. Imagine the future. 

Visualize the things you will be able to do once you have achieved your goal. Does it feel freeing? What will you be able to do with your precious resources of time, money and energy? This exercise is particularly helpful when you feel the flame of your passion barely flickering.

8. Serve others. 

Use your passion to inspire others. After all, great leadership is about others, not about you. Be ready to turn your passion into an example to encourage those around you to pursue their own goals. A true passion, like love, is limitless ... so share it.