Passion. I confess, it’s a word I’m uncomfortable with. It brings to my mind business televangelists. And even if I had a passion for something my understated, introverted tendencies mean I’d likely not tell you!

Having and following a single minded passion can rule out too many perfectly good alternative options and doesn’t leave room for other important, necessary, but less exciting things. It also gives too easy an excuse for not actually doing anything while “working out what I’ll do when I grow up”.

So while finding and following your passion might be fashionable advice, what I suspect works for many of us is the connection between productivity and engagement . When we work on something successfully we become engaged in it. I’m not praising the mediocre, but this is more about attitude and hard work than about dreams. It’s about seeing where our efforts fit into a larger picture so we can do the boring bits - and every job has them - because of what they contribute to.

And attitude counts. I had coffee this morning with a friend who is a poet. She mentioned colleagues who undertake an exercise to write a poem a day, every day, for a month. By doing this their perspective shifts and they begin to see the poetic all around them. In our professional lives perhaps we need to focus on doing good work really well, becoming engaged in it as we experience success, and then, just maybe, becoming passionate about it as an outcome, not as a goal.

Some of these ideas are a response to Mark Babbitt’s post “Follow your passion” SUCKS as career advice and Tony Wilson’s AHRI HR Practices Day keynote where he touched on the link between productivity and engagement.