Work With Passion Not Fear

Why do you work?

Do you work because you have to? Do you work because you want to? Do you work with passion? Or, do you work out of fear? So many times when I ask people what they do and how they got into a particular field, I am often amazed when I hear them tell me their reasons.

“I don’t know…it’s just something to do.”

“It’s not great, but it pays the bills.”

“It’s just a job. I have a family to take care of.”

Now, I will not sit here and tell you that these are not all good reasons to work. We all need to make a living, to provide a way for ourselves and our families, and to have some purpose in our lives. But, what I want to warn you all about is falling into the dreaded hole of working out of fear instead of out of passion.

Working out of fear is simply working for the sake of working. You make decisions that are safe and that you know will not “rock the boat.”.You don’t take chances, make risky suggestions, or think of innovative, off the cuff, potentially life-changing (ok…maybe just industry changing) initiatives. You go through your day doing just enough, flying under the that invisible radar, hoping that another year will go by and that you will get that 2% annual pay increase you’ve been looking forward to all year. You don’t strive for anything better. You survive off of doing just the bare minimum.

Why do we work out of fear? Well, for starters, we don’t want to lose our jobs. I mean, that’s a no-brainer, right? Especially in this day and age, when the economy is still in the crapper, unemployment rates are hovering in the double-digit region, and companies are wavering on whether to hire, lay-off or remain stagnant. But, and here is the golden nugget of knowledge you have been waiting for, working out of fear will more than likely cost you your job…not shield you from the ill-fated unemployment lines. Working out of fear has the opposite effect that you want (or secretly hope) it has.

Let’s go back to the fact that we are still in the day of a weakened economy, where companies are still looking at ways to grow/improve/compete/stay alive while also being cost conscious, and people are looking for work in droves. Now more than ever, you need to work with passion. You need to work with such purpose and innovation that your company would be foolish to think they could succeed without you. You have to understand your business and your industry, think ahead, make risky recommendations, be strategic, and above all else…don’t simply exist in your job!

It takes passion to get to this level. You have to be passionate about what you do in order to truly take the time to understand your business/industry. Being passionate will equip you with the desire to learn and absorb all you can about what you do and that knowledge will arm you with the data and ideas to make those seemingly risky (but innovative and potentially powerful) recommendations. That knowledge and understanding that you have built up will allow you to be more strategic (knowing and understanding the business and how you make an impact on the business being rule numero uno for being more strategic), which will in turn take you from merely existing in your job to truly living it.

And in the end, isn’t living, especially living a life with passion, what really matters?


Photo credit iStockphoto

About the Author

Rachel Salley

Rachel Salley is an HR Consultant in the Tampa Bay, FL area. For the past 15 years, she has worked with companies to develop and implement talent acquisition and talent management best practices. Rachel fits in time with her husband, four kids, and a lovable dog who swears she’s a cat, while also blogging on Musing From the Career Anarchist. You can connect with Rachel on Twitter as @RachelSalley and on LinkedIn.



I couldn’t agree more with this subject and actually I have a little story to endorse it. I went to a job interview and was interviewed by the General Manager. Among other things he told me that he uses a monitoring program for all computers because he had previous bad experiences where employees were not working and were playing games on the internet. The fact that many firms use this type of surveillance was not new to me; however, I could read the fear in his eyes that he could potentially have the same bad experience with employees again and, therefore, lose money. I told him that ‘I don’t have to come to work, but I want to, and if I would want to play games, I could do that at home in a more comfortable environment’. Many would say that I was too direct, but I just expressed the naked truth. The next day I got the job and I have been working with great passion for my profession every day. A year later I was named Executive Manager and partner in the company.


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