I love my career. Focusing on dance, collaborating with friends, and serving others didn’t sound like elements I’d find in a job. After chatting with a fellow Executive Director over coffee, I began to view passion work differently. He had founded and led a nonprofit for several years before going back to the corporate sector. “Don’t forget about yourself in the process,” he mentioned, seemingly out of nowhere. “You can be so in love with the crusade that you lose sight of what matters.” When I heard this, I didn’t understand. What could be better than diving into what you love?
Passion is an excellent motivator for action. Enjoying something makes it more likely that you'll find time to do it. But it usually ends there. Interest has to be followed by diligence, learning, and growth. Discovering my ‘dream job’ was awesome. I could easily speak from the heart to partners, donors, and investors about my love for the arts. However, putting emphasis on my affection for the vision kept me from focusing on my development as a leader. I wasn't taking advantage of the opportunity -- being able to get hands-on experience around critical business processes such as fundraising, business development, and management. My friend transitioned back to the corporate world seamlessly because of what he learned in operating his nonprofit. And he used his skills to serve on the board and volunteer for his previous organization.
It’s important to stop being enamored about the calling and get serious about the doing. The tangible skills are only thing transferable to future endeavors. If you’re a content creator, for example, it’s great to love vlogging, giving reviews, or sharing tutorials. However, if the platform you are on changes or dies, how would you fare? If you are skilled in the various aspects of the process — speaking, video editing, marketing, merchandising, etc. — you aren’t fazed. You can shift into a new format because you’ve invested in the work that produces great content.
I had lived with an understanding that the love for something drove its success. It doesn’t. It only drives your desire to be involved. I needed to identify the key elements that allow me to do this work effectively. Not only does it improve my ability to grow the organization, but it also prepares me for whatever the future holds.