In today’s workplace, there is an unmistakable need to have members of your staff that are passionate about what they do. Indeed, passionate workers tend to persist in the face of obstacles and setbacks at the workplace.
These individuals consistently seek different ways to refine their knowledge, skills, and abilities as a means of reaching a degree of excellence at what they do. Passionate workers do this by engaging in what is called deliberate practice.
Deliberate practice provides different opportunities for learning and skill acquisition (Lie, 2011). However, deliberate practice differs from leisure activities in the sense that the activities involved with deliberate practice can be demanding, repetitive, and not always enjoyable.
Even though there is a hunger for passionate workers, from a research or academic standpoint, there does not appear to be a clear consensus as to what exactly passion is. Winnen (2005) says that passion has been defined in a variety of ways. In fact, some define it as loving what you do. Others describe it as the fire that burns within you and stirs the soul. Despite the different understandings of passion, there still appears to be a need to better understand passion’s antecedents and what modifies the strength or weakness of this phenomenon.
One of the seminal researchers on passion, Dr. Robert Vallerand has defined passion as a strong inclination towards a self-defining activity that people love, that they consider important, and in which they devote significant amounts of time and energy. In other words, passion basically refers to this longstanding desire that one has to engage in an activity that they really love. According to Vallerand’s construct, activities are passionate when they become central features of people’s identities. People with a passion for dancing or writing do not merely dance or write. They become dancers or writers.
In 2003, Vallerand and his colleagues developed a psychometric instrument to assess an individual’s level of passion. This instrument is called the Passion Scale.
However, passion is a far cry from another psychological construct that has received considerable attention from the world of academia in recent years. That psychological construct is called burnout.
Burnout is a psychological syndrome marked by emotional exhaustion, feelings of inefficacy, and cynicism towards one’s clients and coworkers (Maslach, 1982). This syndrome tends to occur after an individual has experienced significant and prolonged stress in the workplace.
Burnout has informed the psychological literature considerably. However, more research is needed to understand not only why someone is burnt out but rather how one creates and sustains passionate commitment toward what they do for a living. This is the starting point or backdrop for the dissertation I am currently working on.
As has been stated before on this blog, I am currently in the process of writing and preparing my research plan for my dissertation. As things stand now, I am working with my mentor and dissertation committee to have my Research Plan officially approved. I will keep you posted as any new developments arise.
References for further reading:
Lie, H. (2011). Deliberate practice in professional speaking expertise (Order No. 3493859). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (920315449). Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.library.capella.edu/docview/920315449?accountid=27965
Maslach, C. (1982). Burnout–The cost of caring. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Vallerand, R. J., Salvy, S., Mageau, G. A., Elliot, A. J., Denis, P. L., Grouzet, F. E., & Blanchard, C. (2007). On the Role of Passion in Performance. Journal Of Personality,75(3), 505-534. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.2007.00447.x
Winnen, C. J. (2005). To be or not to be: The role of passion and obsession in the entrepreneurial process (Order No. 3193450). Available from ProQuest Psychology Journals. (305384413). Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.library.capella.edu/docview/305384413?accountid=27965