Are you passionate for your profession?
In my upcoming book Answering Why, I share that when it comes to making a living, we only do one of three things. Number one, we have a job. This describes the type of work that feels like drudgery or a dead end. We don’t love it, we may not even like it—we just do it because we have to. Most people have experienced this at some point in their working lives.
Number two, we build a career. This is a role where we feel driven to succeed and do our work well. But it’s still laborious at times, and our emotions and passion don’t come into play. We go in, do our time, and at times may dismiss our work from mind as soon as we head out the door.
But the third option, and the one I see modeled most frequently by the education and workforce development professionals I work with daily, is different. It’s pursuing a mission. Work doesn’t feel like work because we are doing something we are passionate about, something we believe in. Our “want-to” fuels the “how-to” so strongly that we are eager to perform the tasks and projects that achieve our vision.
Pursuing a mission in our professional lives transcends both the drudgery of a mere job and the commitment to a career because it’s bigger than the income or status that comes with the position. This is what it means to have passion for our profession—we see it as a mission, and one that matters to many more people than just ourselves.
So what drives this passion? Several answers leap to mind.
- We are shaping the direction of the future. By speaking into the lives of the next generation, we have a direct impact on not just their lives but on the bigger picture of education and employment in our local, regional, and national economies. The skills gap, the Awareness Gap, the challenges of our globalizing economy—all of these pressing issues will be solved, at least in part, in the classrooms and learning environments across our nation. What kind of future do we want to see? We have a hand in creating it.
- We are connecting with young people at a critical point in their educational and life journey. An audience member at a recent keynote I gave recognized this key fact: “I believe Mark hit on the single most important part as our work as educators. This is a human endeavor. Making a difference means a connection must be made with our students” (D.S.). Yes—this IS a human endeavor. The young people whose lives we touch are at the cusp of major, life-defining decisions, and they’re looking for guidance. We can help them discover their career purpose and spark in them the same passion for their profession that we model. It’s our choice to make this connection.
- We are making a bigger difference. Few professions have the potential for such widespread influence as education. It has often been said that “teaching is the profession that creates all the others.” We can help set the trajectory of young people’s lives in a positive direction that will benefit them as well as the communities where we live and work.
Passion for our profession comes from what we value. It’s when we believe in something bigger than ourselves. Every educator and workforce development trainer I know who embraces a true passion for the profession is remarkably fulfilled in that work. No, it’s not always easy. It doesn’t always feel good and sometimes the rewards are not immediately evident. But we know it’s what we were born to do. And we know the world will be better for the time, energy, and effort we give. That’s what it means to pursue a mission—to live, work, and invest every day with passion for our profession.