Six Ways Health Execs Can Regain Passion in Their Work

August 8, 2018

For many in healthcare, passion in the job comes from purpose, but sometimes, you may lose some of that fire. Here are some valuable tips from executive coaches that will help you rediscover that passion.

Passion is an emotion and state of mind, and comes from within. For many in healthcare, passion in the job comes from purpose, but sometimes, you may lose some of that fire. Here are some valuable tips from executive coaches that will help you rediscover that passion.

1. Ask for what you need

Sometimes just changing your responsibilities can awaken your desire for your job. Ted Beasley, lead instructor for Emergent Execs, Austin, Texas, has seen many companies demonstrate a willingness to change the roles and responsibilities of key contributors they want to retain. 

“I have clients keep a journal for 10 working days. At the end of each of those days, they write in their journal a quick description of the activities of that day that brought them life and energy, and a list of activities that they disliked,” he says. “At the end of 10 days, we get together and look at the themes and figure out what types of activities will fuel their passion and which feel like drudgery and could potentially be delegated to others.”

By taking this route, one executive he worked with found that she hated negotiating with healthcare providers and pharmacy chains on their rates for members, but loved mentoring her team and creating training programs for members about their benefits. She pitched a revised job description to her executive team, and they were enthusiastic about empowering her to take on more of a training role. 

“Of course, there are many mundane or painful aspects of your current job description that you won’t be able to change, but you may be surprised at how making a few tweaks can change your outlook and passion level,” Beasley says.

2. Think bigger

Rose Cartolari, a leadership strategist and executive coach based in Milan, Italy, notes while nobody can fill you with passion, having meaning and purpose in your job can certainly go a long way. 

“People get complacent. People don’t change just because they have more information, they change when there’s an emotional pull,” she says. “You should stand for something bigger than yourself and find the bigger picture in what you’re doing. It will help you connect more-with your purpose and with others.”

3. Get personal

 Jennifer Palmieri, Cigna’s human resources officer, Global IT, defines passion as

 “a positive emotional connection to our work,” and while she believes your career passion may occasionally go on hiatus, it is never truly lost.

“Energy, creativity and commitment are prerequisites to having an emotional connection to our work; it is perfectly normal for each of these to ebb and flow over our careers,” she says. “The catalyst for rediscovering that deep personal connection to our work is dependent on the root cause. It is hard to be passionate at work if we have deep personal challenges going on in our lives.”

For some this may mean addressing family needs or even our own needs, which may require taking time off, using family leave or engaging a counselor. 

“For others, the passion ebbs because perhaps we have gotten too comfortable in our jobs,” Palmieri says. “That implies it is time to take on new challenges; whether expanding our role, asking for additional project assignments or getting more involved in corporate philanthropy. These serve as mechanisms for us as leaders to create greater impact.”

4. Know yourself well

Carrie A. L. Arnold, PhD, principal coach and consultant of Denver-based The Willow Group, advises to use yourself as a subject of study and determine your strengths, preferences, triggers, challenges, etc. 

“When people are leveraging their strengths and preferences in an intentional way, they are less likely to lose their passion,” she says. “They are also able to make more intentional choices that help them recover when their energy wanes. I always recommend that leaders take all the assessments they can get their hands on and find ways to integrate what they learn about themselves.”

She believes this is just being a good steward of the life and body they have been given. 

“I also think it is important that leaders not leap to leaving. They may need to do the self-work first before deciding to transition to another job or company,” she says. “Not everyone needs to leave to lead with passion. If that is not possible, they will at least have a good sense of what they are running to versus running from.”

5. Talk with others who have gone through this

Health executives need to realize that they are not alone in seeing a dip in their passion levels. That’s why Beasley recommends talking with current or retired healthcare executives whose careers you admire. 

“We often struggle with passion alone, and don’t realize that many successful people have hit similar dips, and found meaning and renewed purpose in their healthcare careers,” he says. “Take some time to uncover these stories. Invite an individual to lunch or a coffee. In the email invite, explain that you are committed to your industry or company, but you are looking for ways to grow professionally and make your career more sustainable.”

It won’t hurt to mention why you admire their longevity, accomplishments and personal style, as well. In preparation for the interview, come up with a good list of five to 10 questions you want to ask that might shed light on your own journey. 

“I find that successful people almost always say ‘yes’ to these interview requests, and tend to be quite candid in their responses,” Beasley says. “They love to give back and help the next generation of leaders.  You’ll benefit from their wisdom.  More importantly, you will learn that you’re not alone, and many exceptional executives have faced some of the very same challenges.”

6. Examine what is strengthening you

The most important way to regain passion in our work, says Carol Vernon, a certified executive coach with Communication Matters, Washington, D.C., is to step back and ask, “What do we bring to our organization that energizes us and plays to our natural strengths?”

“I always ask my coaching clients to seek input from others about how we are ‘showing up,’” she says. “When we know what energizes us and what others notice about us, we can start building and refining on those things and ultimately regain the passion that first brought us to our work.

A graduate of the University of Miami, Keith Loria is an award-winning journalist who has been writing for major newspapers and magazines for close to 20 years, on topics as diverse as sports, business and healthcare. You can view some of his recent writing at keithloria.contently.com