Falling in Love

Several years ago, I was at a company event where Jim Kouzes, co-author of The Leadership Challenge, offered up what he called the "best-kept secret" of successful leaders.  His answer?  Love.  The author professed that the secret sauce to effective leadership is to stay in love with the people we work with, the products we provide and the customers that we serve. 

Staying in love requires that you fall in love in the first place - and true love takes time.  While common career advice is "do what you love" or "follow your passion", the reality is that most people are not pre-wired with passion just waiting to be instantly matched to a lifelong career.  Even people who study technical skills (doctor, teacher, lawyer) would say that deep passion for their craft required time and experience. Those hoping for the perfect match from the start are typically disappointed (most of us know at least one former teacher). 

In the book So Good They Can't Ignore You, author Cal Newton studies people who love their jobs and introduces readers to two mindsets; a passion mindset and a craftsman mindset. 

People with a passion mindset are self-focused and constantly ask themselves "Am I Happy?", "What is this job doing for me?" and "Is there something else I would like better?".  Constantly chasing your passion instead of allowing it to naturally develop can lead to anxiety and frustration. 

People with a craftsman mindset ask "How much value am I producing?""How useful am I?" and "How can I create more positive contributions to the world?".  Their focus is on how they can make themselves and their work valuable to their team, their company and their customers.

A common pattern between people who have passion for their work is that they work with a craftsman mindset.  They "craft" a job they can love by aligning their natural talents towards challenging projects that interest them .  In doing this, they develop their talents into strengths and add value to their organization. They feel like they are making a positive impact and work with purpose. 

By aiming your strengths to become remarkable at something, you can gain more control over how your work gets done.  Your tasks will be enriched by knowing that what you do has meaning and impact.  Author Daniel Pink calls these three important elements of employee motivation Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose (from the best-selling book Drive).     

Falling in love with your work starts with mastery; become the "go-to" person for tasks or knowledge which truly interests you and is aligned with your natural talents.  Over time, you gain capital at work through the unique value you contribute which leads to certain levels of control and autonomy.  With autonomy you can be more creative and self-directed.  When you have ownership and influence over your work, you begin to realize the impact you have and gain the sense that what you do produces something meaningful beyond yourself, contributing to a higher purpose.  

What task can you align your strengths with that will both interest you and add value to your company?  What would you like to be known as the "Go-To" person for on your team?  Answer these questions and apply actions towards them...then let the romance begin. 

I am currently serving 20 years to life as the Sr. Director of Destination Experiences at Universal Orlando Resort.  I'm an optimistic pace-setter fascinated by tomorrow.  In any situation, you can count on me to think outside the box and find the best way forward.  I prefer white-water rapids over data lakes and include Ideation, Futuristic and Positivity amongst my signature talents.    Find me on Twitter @dpddonovan and Instagram @strengthszone  


  1. Hello Dan,
    It's always great to follow you in your blog. It's funny, because early this morning on my LinkedIn page, I wrote about the 5 ways leadership is shown from The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. Once again, I'm jealous, you got to hear and see Jim Kouzes, while I just read about him. This is the second time you make me feel like I'm on the right path. Now, if the path was only passable.


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