The British are known for their reticence and cool demeanour, especially in business. So does passion have a place in it?    I decided to find out by taking the Passion Test for Business with Jessica McGregor Johnson.

I’ve always thought of myself as a passionate person and doing what I love.  I’m a self starter, slightly obsessive but most people who run their own businesses are, and need to be.   I’m passionate about nature, am a vegetarian, love communicating, and the radio station allows me to do that, as does my PR and marketing business.

So, when I met Jessica and did the Passion Test for Business, I was a little cynical about how it could help me.

However, everyone has doubts now-and-then and I’m no different.  In the past I had read books about how to find focus, and regenerate passion and enthusiasm in business. I work for myself and, as anyone who works for themselves knows, you have to be very self motivated every day. To get up in the morning and know everything depends on you, you are the one making the decisions and taking the risks.

I had three sessions with Jessica, who interviewed me over Skype. It was very useful having her ask questions and continue to do so until she got to the nub of an issue.  There are books that do things like this, that ask you what is important in life, what makes you happy, what are your priorities, but when you have a person face-to-face, telling you you have to make a choice between this desire and another, and the one you reject you can never have again… well, it really makes you focus very hard on what’s really important to you.    It gave me a method of finding clarity and from there I was able to set a number of  measureable and achievable goals.

It’s easy to say ‘I enjoy communicating’, but Jessica wouldn’t accept that answer – she wanted to know more.   Why did I enjoy communicating?   What type of communication?  Did I enjoy it just for the shear joy of talking to people?  Or did I want to achieve something by it?  I had to be specific and push myself to think much deeper, which I hadn’t done before.

It’s easy to tick-box questions in a magazine or a book and be satisfied with your answer because you don’t have anyone pushing you further – but Jessica pushed.   She identified, or rather helped me to identify, that I enjoy communicating and making things happen. In other words I like communications that inspire action – which is now my business strap line.     I want something to happen from my communication; a positive outcome, not just for its own sake. That’s why I love radio and PR. I make a difference with the radio station and I make a difference for my clients.  That’s what makes me tick and I think of that every time I have a down day – because everyone has them sometimes.

Jessica explained how sometimes we try to set goals for ourselves but the goals are too big – like ‘make a million in the next 12 months’, which is unrealistic. The test shows you how to eat the elephant in bite size chunks; to make goals achievable. It then  shows you how you can keep track of your progress and the milestones you’ve reached. I’d recommend a check-up once a year to see how you’ve managed to achieve or accelerate your top ‘must haves’.   I wanted to work four days a week, that was always a go, but then I realised I wasn’t being specific enough.   I didn’t want a four-day week – what I really wanted was  flexibility.   I could work for five days, I would be happy to work for five days, in fact I could work seven days a week – but I wanted the flexibility to choose when I wanted to work.   I had to question myself even more to get to the nub.

I believe people are swung by what society dictates they should be passionate about, and you have to do a test like this to really get to the crux of what makes you tick.   You’re left with, in my case, eighteen priorities;  the eighteen things that are most important in life.    It’s different for everyone, but for me the first three were to do with feeling inspired every day, earning X amount of money, and having a good work life balance – which in my case is about flexibility. I’m fortunate because my work is also something I love.  Even if I didn’t need to pay bills it’s something I would still do.   That is one of the real tests of passion. Would you choose to do something if you weren’t getting paid for it? Would you choose to do the job you do if money wasn’t an issue?

I do however believe you can be too passionate about something; when you want to do something so much that the cost is higher than the reward and you’re not seeing things straight.  That’s when passion stops you from thinking objectively.

The initial Passion Test took about an hour which we did over Skype, and then I had two follow on sessions to see how I had progressed.    I admit a few of the answers surprised me. Because I’m hyper and always on the go, people keep telling me I should meditate.    So I tried to meditate but I hated it.   And this test made me realise that meditation just isn’t for me. I didn’t need to meditate, I like being the way I am. So I stopped ‘trying’ and immediately  became less stressed.  How ironic is that?

Sometimes life gets in the way of achieving what you want. I wanted to become healthier but last year I had a nasty fall off a horse riding along a beach in the Outer Hebrides. Things out of your control happen in life.  You can’t help it.

I think everyone would benefit from this test whether they work for themselves or for someone else – especially if they feel they’ve lost direction in life or feel they are leading someone else’s life – perhaps that approved by their parents or peers. And I think a lot of women would put relationships well down the list, much lower than men!   Relationships are important to me, but not as important as my work. That is something else I discovered which surprised me. But I feel a lot of women might say the same.   It’s that sort of test.   It’s like your subconscious talking to you and occasionally slapping you across the face and waking you up to what you really want in life. And that’s a good thing – yes?

I think passion occasionally needs to be rebooted and this is why tests like this are good. It made me realise I was on the right path, while with others it could make them realise they are not.    I’m more passionate about work than play but then I consider so much of my work to be ‘play’ – think about it, I travel for a living, do a job that makes a difference to peoples’ lives, and I meet and interview interesting people in extraordinary places – what is there not to be passionate about?


Jessica McGregor Johnson talks passion
Jessica McGregor Johnson

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