Is it really necessary to have a fiery passion at work if you want to work well and draw satisfaction from it? The passion-at-work myth is ever present, but can make some workers feel guilty.
In Dilbert’s universe (the comic strip), the work setting is a gloomy place where employees—imprisoned by their cubicles—punch out and survive their days by making sarcastic jokes. However, this behaviour is decried in an ultra-performing society where passion at work is highly valued.
According to the vocational counsellor Hélène de Léséleuc, not everyone can be sustained by passion because it requires spontaneity, intensity, and commitment. “People have different temperaments: some are all fire and flame while others are calm and serene.” She asserts, “They may be less lively, but they can still be engaged and interested in their work, loyal, and satisfied with their professional life.”
According to her, the word “passionate” that used to refer to anything and everything has become a cliché. She states, “Feeding a fire with big flames takes a lot of energy. But, we can also have beautiful embers glowing hot which some workers prefer.”
Additionally, a workplace where employees passionately and intensely compete can become chaotic and uncontrollable if these characteristics are incompatible.
Everyone’s temperaments are welcome to balance out the workplace; people’s skills are what counts. If we work well, out with the shame of punching out.
Different life events can change someone’s priorities: a new love, the birth of a child, an exciting project, and more. These events can make us dedicate less time and energy at work even if we enjoy the job. According to de Léséleuc, to avoid exhaustion and restore balance to your life, you need to reflect on your values and priorities.
“The guilt I have seen is in passionate people who are exhausted.” She observes, “They are pushing their passion too far at work and haven’t learned to accept this. They feel guilty of not being as lively as others.” This phenomenon is exacerbated in work environments where performance is valued through regular overtime, constant improvement, and increasingly demanding objectives. For these people, learning to rebuild an identity based on something other than passion is extremely difficult.
However, not everyone draws their happiness from work, some are more than happy to punch out when they enter the office. In 2013, according to the organization Indice relatif du bonheur (IRB), 52% of Québécois confirmed that work should be a source of happiness. Pierre Coté surveys Québécois on this subject annually.
Those who gain satisfaction from their work are much happier (with an IRB score of 81.60/100) than the other half (64.50/100). Although, the latter are not necessarily unhappy, but they derive happiness from other sources such as their family, love life, money, and their sense of accomplishment.
There is no requirement to be defined by your work. In fact, it is better to have multiple interests so… stop feeling guilty!