Whenever I go just about anywhere in Silicon Valley, I bump into people who are passionate about the work they are doing. Spend a lunch hour in Calafia and you’ll hear the place abuzz with what may very well be the big next idea.
I am a Project Manager. Well, my official title is “Senior Initiative Manager” because instead of managing projects I manage large cross-organizational initiatives that are designed to improve the company’s back-office operations. Are you totally lost yet? Because that sentence is the sentence I practically read verbatim whenever anyone asks me what I do for a living. And somewhere between “Initiative Manager” and “cross-organizational,” I can see a person’s eyes gloss over and a look of confusion start to build. Explaining my job is difficult. There aren’t a lot of people that run the type of projects I run. My job is equal parts Sales Ops, IT Systems, and Process Improvement. In a nutshell, I find gaps in a process that make booking a sale or renewing a contract more difficult than it should be and then I rally the right people to make changes. One part cheerleader, one part mother hen, one part squeaky wheel. That’s my job.
While I appreciate my job and find it rewarding when we finally make progress, this isn’t a job I am passionate about. There is no passion in Project Management — unless you are managing the project that cures cancer or executes a mission to Mars. My job is to find a way to automate a process that credits future invoices, there is nothing passionate about it. Sure, I save the company some money and make sure that we don’t overstate revenue or have unsatisfied customers. But its a thankless job. My name will never go down in the history books for increasing employee productivity.
For me, passions have never been work-related. I want the freedom to pursue my passions without having to focus on monetary gains. I don’t want the things that feed my soul to be tied to making my mortgage payment. I don’t want to muddy the waters of my life with the nitty-gritty of a business.
I don’t need to be passionate about my job. Don’t get me wrong, I am damn good at what I do. My job fits all my strengths. But passionate about my job? Never. And that’s a strength too. I’m keeping the best part of myself to myself. I’m investing in my personal capital. And I feel very lucky to have a job that I do well and am successful in my professional field.
While I may not have a job that makes money from my passions, I certainly have a job that funds my passions. And for me, that is the best of both worlds.