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All About You: Live with passion

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Motivating employees to work safely is part of the safety professional’s job. But who motivates the motivator? In this monthly column, veteran safety pro and professional speaker Richard Hawk offers his entertaining brand of wisdom to inspire safety pros to perform at their best.

Passion is a tricky emotion. It’s defined as being “strong and barely controllable.” We generally use it when referring to intimate relationships, an endeavor we pursue or something we care about deeply. Sure, passion can get you in trouble, but it can also drive you to wholeheartedly delve into a project or lifelong goal. To be “passionate” about something means it matters to you on a grand scale.

Posted on my office corkboard are three encouragements I strive to live by: “Make other people feel special,” “Enjoy the journey” and “Live with passion.” All three have helped me throughout my life, but the last one has seemed to be the most helpful in getting things done and encouraging others to feel the same way I do about safety – especially about making it fun.

Here are a couple of tips to help you develop and maintain a passion for your work and other important aspects of your life.

Search your feelings

What do you feel passionate about? Search your feelings to realize what you’d like to accomplish and the activities you love. Then, see how many fit into your present work life. Some of them can’t because they’re activities that are personal and you may not want to pursue professionally. (I love to play pool, but I have no desire to become a professional pool player.) However, there should be some responsibilities that you strongly enjoy. Arranging your time to spend more of it on the things you’re passionate about will not only give you more drive and purpose, it’s also been shown to improve performance.

Too often we spend our time pursuing what we feel we should because it seems secure. A common example is staying at a job because of its excellent benefits, even if it brings you little satisfaction beyond a paycheck. Of course, no matter where you work, certain aspects of your duties as a safety and health pro won’t thrill you. I’m passionate about what I do for a living, but some parts of speaking and writing I find a bit tedious and hard to enjoy.

Natural enjoyment of an activity will help you be – and stay – passionate about it. But you need to take time to think about the joy it brings you. It may sound odd, but we often lose our passion about an aspect of our work because we don’t remind ourselves of how much we like it.

We get wrapped up in just getting stuff done without being mindful of how it makes us feel. If you enjoy interacting with people, then before you go out in the field to meet with employees, remember that this is a fun part of your job. When I was a full-time safety pro, joking around during my inspections was a delight.

Even if you don’t feel like it, act passionate

Although you may think following this advice makes you insincere or fake, it’s actually the sign of a seasoned pro. I’ve been in a bad mood at times before giving a talk, but I sure didn’t act that way once I was “on stage.” Can you imagine going to a concert and the entertainer saying, “Sorry, I’m not that enthusiastic tonight. I’m not feeling inspired right now.” Even if you have a strong passion about something, that passion won’t always drive your behavior. To maintain your excitement, you sometimes need to dig down to dig up some energy and act the part.

One reason to still act passionate (which includes being upbeat and energetic) when you may not feel like it is because your actions affect other people’s emotions and desires. Of course, you’ve got to believe that what you’re passionate about is worth the energy, even on your down days. You probably feel the same way I do: that no matter how you’re feeling, you still strongly believe helping people live safer and healthier lives is a wonderful pursuit.

Passion may be risky sometimes, but not when it comes to being passionate about safety. So, fellow safety and health pro, rev up your safety passion!

This article represents the views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

Richard Hawk helps safety professionals become better leaders through his keynotes, workshops, articles and books so they can create vibrant safety cultures. His popular “Mindfully Safe” keynote teaches employees how to focus better and improve their situational awareness, a key skill to preventing incidents. To contact Richard, visit makesafetyfun.com.

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