Don’t Follow Your Passion… Make It

Intel hired me as an intern for the semester working as a programmer in the Information Technology (IT) department.  At the time, IT wasn’t my passion, but I loved technology and the job sounded fun.  What I soon discovered though, was that the more I made an impact in my work, the more I fell in love with IT.  What had started as a steppingstone had now turned into a passion, and one that lasted for years.

Over the last 20 years at Intel, I’ve had almost as many jobs as time at the company.  I’ve been a Developer, System Engineer, Chief of Staff, and Director.  I’ve worked with prominent Executives in the industry, built multimillion dollar businesses, and have managed global teams with hundreds of employees.  It’s been a diverse career, but across that diversity a common theme stands out.  The most fulfilling jobs were the ones where I had the ability to control my work, grow, and make an impact. 

The author Daniel Pink explains that humans have three inherent psychological needs:

  1. Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives and work
  2. Mastery – the urge to get better and better at something that matters
  3. Purpose – the desire to do something of importance and meaning

When these needs are met we’re motivated, productive, and happy.  This is what passion is all about.  It’s exactly what I experienced in that first internship at Intel, and it’s held true throughout my career.

If you’re not sure what your passion is, if you’re in a job that isn’t fulling, or if you had passion and it’s faded, you’re not alone.  It just means it’s time to ignite your desire by finding work that provides autonomy, growth, and purpose.

Passion isn’t followed, it’s made.

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