Can’t Put a Price Tag on Passion

My grandmother always told me growing up, “Success is doing what you love and getting paid for it.” I’ve been very fortunate during my college years to have found my passion and gained experience in internships and leadership positions on campus.

As I enter my last year of college and start thinking about where I’d like to work after I graduate, I really hope to find myself in a work environment that challenges me and helps me learn and grow. I hope that I will find my work to be meaningful and a salary would be a great step up!

Although I’m looking forward to ultimate freedom from textbook fees and the good ol’ college budget — complete with Ramen noodles and thrift-store dresses — I’m finding that my salary will probably matter less than I thought it would.

This semester I’m taking an honors leadership class and I love the real-world applicable insight I’ve been gaining on leadership, professional development and personality strengths. Accompanying a recent discussion on motivation, my class watched the TED Talk, “The Puzzle of Motivation” by Daniel Pink. In the presentation, Pink has a lot to say about the differences between management and leadership. An overlying theme of the story is that, “there’s a mismatch in what science know and business does.”

Science has proven that although financial incentives are commonly given to motivate people in the business world today, financial incentives are worthless without passion. Many managers try to coerce their subordinates with carrots and sticks, punishing or rewarding them, which narrows the focus of the followers in effect. Although motivation via carrots and sticks might’ve worked in the past, in today’s day and age, right-brain creative and conceptual thinking cannot be coerced and the companies that cultivate engaging environments derive higher levels of productivity and better overall employee satisfaction. It’s a win-win.

In conclusion, Daniel Pink gives three points as the new operation system for leaders and managers that have worn out the carrot and stick method.  The three points are autonomy, mastery and purpose.

  • Autonomy is the urge to direct our own lives. Autonomy explains that self-direction provides more engagement.
  • Mastery is the desire to get better and better at something that matters. This envelopes intrinsic motivation, which is doing work because we believe that what we’re doing is important.
  • Lastly, purpose is the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. These three points are important because moving into a new era of accepting scientific proof that financial incentives don’t work and moving forward with new methods involving empowering employees rather than coercing them to do their work.

In these least seven months before graduation, I’m focusing on following my purpose and gaining mastery. I’m very passionate about what I do. The more I study public relations, the more I find it to be my calling. Because I feel that what I’m doing matters, I’m motivated to move toward mastery and keep going even though it’s stressful at times. Autonomy in my previous work environment helps me work on my own schedule and I’ve found I’m most productive when I budget my time wisely.

Passion is something that money can’t buy and I’m thankful for the students, mentors and professors that have helped me learn over the past few years. I hope that my upcoming job search will be fruitful and that I will find a work environment that plays up my creative strengths and helps me see the bigger picture.

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