Follow Your Passion Purpose

“Follow your passion and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

How many times have we heard this statement as it pertains to our careers? How many “job hoppers” have you met who seem to be looking for something they can’t quite explain? How many people do you have in your life who complain of being bored or not stimulated at work and by work? 

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This notion of passion and convincing everyone that they need to “find” or “follow” passion seems to be a new and dangerous message. To me, passion is something that burns inside of us, not something we should be seeking externally. Passion is something we should be bringing to our employers and infusing into our careers, not waiting for our employers and careers to give to us. We should be injecting our passion into every corner of our lives. 

I found recruiting at the age of 30 – and frankly, hated it – as many of you know by now. I had zero passion for this industry – I wasn’t chasing down anything – I needed a job and a paycheck because I was fired from my last job and spent 10 months being a really awful Realtor. And I’m sure the vast majority of us find careers in a similar way. Timing. Location. Need. Not passion. Does anyone grow up dreaming of working for an insurance company? Does anyone dream of being a tax accountant? Hell, I didn’t even know what recruiting was, nor did I know any recruiters until I was in my mid-20’s, at least. I wanted to be a Music Director in Hollywood. That was my “passion”. I wanted to decide which tracks went with which scenes. (Now I just make kick-ass playlists for my own amusement and worthy friends.)

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But what separates the happiest employees from the discontent? It’s the passion they bring to their work. Today I will tell you that I am desperately in love with what I do and how I do it. I could talk talent acquisition strategies, search, and staffing morning, noon and night. Frankly, I find it hard not to discuss recruiting and business…it courses through my veins. That’s not to say that every day is wonderful and fulfilling – I still have my fair share of shit days, days where I scratch my head and think, “Why in the world do I even do this incredibly frustrating business?”

But of course, I do know why I do it – and shockingly it’s not about me or my passion – it’s about my purpose. I find it in my employees – the platform we’ve created for our people to do great work and get compensated fairly for that work. The environment and culture we’ve created. Our clients – who have critical openings that need to be filled so they can run their operation(s) optimally – and we find perfect matches. Our candidates who need a job or a new career or a new company – and we guide them through that transition. In networking, helping my friends with connections and their careers. 

I didn’t find passion and purpose when I started recruiting – I created it through recruiting. As does everyone who works at Juno. The common thread every team member has is the ability to never give up and bring passion with them every day. Anyone who doesn’t make it in this business (or our firm) can never tap into those resources. They look for immediate gratification and get frustrated too soon. They create a narrative about recruiting and Juno and they are gone. But what I find in every person who overcomes those hurdles is that they eventually find their purpose, too. They know it’s not perfect, it’s never going to be perfect – but they find the laughter and purpose in the everyday – through their passion, and our shared passion. 

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And here’s the thing about bringing passion to what you do – it’s infectious. Have you ever been inside a Trader Joe’s? It feels a lot different than Acme, doesn’t it? Why? Every single employee has passion for what they do. Scanning our groceries – passion for scanning our groceries? Can you imagine? But it’s deeper than that – they are laughing and having fun. Commenting on what you purchased, telling you about new products – and the experience trickles down to the customer. I love shopping at Trader Joe’s – it’s not just an errand – I legitimately love the experience. I invent reasons to go there. 

That’s a big brand who has somehow figured out how to hire interesting people who show up full of passion. So, I’ll also tell you about the garage around the corner from my house. Who loves the neighborhood and helping everyone in what he knows about – cars. Who will come and get your car and return it if you have to work. Who stops and tells you have a tire that looks a little low. Who investigates problems and figures out solutions for your car – even if it means sending it to another shop. And he’s happy and full of passion – and so is everyone who works for him. Long after I move from the neighborhood, I’ll bring my cars back to him. It’s a great experience – getting my car inspected is a wonderful experience – not just “painless” but enjoyable. 

This is not interesting work, by most standards. Groceries and garages – these people aren’t at Second City in Chicago chasing down passion – they show up with passion for what they do.

Here’s the thing – I’m not telling every blessed person to give up on dreams. Dreams make us feel alive. I haven’t accomplished half of my dreams – I’m still chasing many of them…and probably always will – because I’m a dreamer with lots of dreams…and you’ll meet people who chased their dream and succeeded. My best friend tells a story of watching ‘What Women Want’ and immediately knew she had to be in branding and advertising – and now she’s in a leadership position with one of the most thriving and exciting firms in the city of Philadelphia. But (I haven’t asked her yet) I bet if I probed, it didn’t feel like she thought it would when she arrived. She had to work and bring her passion and vision to the job. Because nothing feels like you think it will when you actually get there – our mind plays tricks on us. 

Create it. Bring it. Live it. 

Stop looking for inspiration around you – be the inspiration. 

Mikal Harden