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The Pursuit of Passion


“I am not what happened to me. I am what I chose to become'' - The Pursuit of Happiness (2006)

The Corporate is not for the weak. At least not for the over-emotional and fidgety. There is a thin line executives walk that separates their professional and personal lives. The line is similar to those of latitudes and longitudes on the globe, intangible divisions that are purely functional with no physicality. A business leader treads on these lines, rather carelessly in today’s capitalist world, for monetary gains, but maybe loses sight of where home lies and home is where the heart is. A businessman enters into a duopoly with money itself, for a comfortable life in the community, however, more often than not, in time, they lose themselves and get stranded far from their dear ones.


Surveys have reported India as a front-bencher in Employee burnout and called out the rising occupational stress in a young and ambitious labour force, primarily due to workplace culture. According to the McKinsey Health Institute's 2023 survey, Indian respondents reported the highest rates of burnout symptoms at 59%. Burnout in business and finance is a pervasive issue, impacting professionals across genders. Gender dynamics play a role in the perception of passion, with societal expectations often influencing how men and women are viewed regarding their dedication and commitment to their careers, potentially contributing to burnout challenges in distinct ways.


How can passion lost, find its way back?


1. Self-Reflection: One step goes a long way. Taking time to identify what is causing stress

is the first step to curing it. Palo Alto Networks, a global cybersecurity leader, is

extremely passionate about supporting its people - this includes private sessions with

certified mental health, career and financial well-being coaches, private counselling

sessions with licensed clinical therapists, unlimited live group sessions, guided

meditations.


2. Set Boundaries: People can’t harm what they do not know. Setting clear boundaries in

your workplace disables its direct influence on your mental health and passion.

Companies such as Juniper Network understand that “work-life balance is vital” to any

team’s success, by offering them very generous PTO policies.


3. Reconnect with purpose: Your sole purpose in life should be to live, not work. The recent

news of a teacher passing away in hospital while grading students’ papers serves both as

an example and a warning.


4. Celebrate Achievements: Acknowledge and celebrate both small and large

accomplishments. Recognizing your successes can boost morale and motivation. Several

companies such as Deloitte, and Accenture have employee recognition programs that

make employee efforts and contributions stand out.


In combating burnout, a holistic approach encompassing self-reflection, boundary-setting, skill development, and positive relationships is essential. Regularly reassessing work-life balance and prioritising well-being fosters resilience. By implementing these strategies, one can restore passion and navigate corporate spaces with renewed enthusiasm and sustainable success. High engagement in a workplace results in less absenteeism, higher retention rates, increased productivity through high performance, and improved customer service, resulting in more client satisfaction and client retention, and better overall profitability for the organisation. The boost in profitability is an indication of the management’s commitment towards its employees. This commitment further improves the morale and enthusiasm of employees, which are key elements to achieving long-term financial success. Organisations with high levels of employee engagement are 21% more profitable and have 28% less internal theft as compared to those with low employee engagement levels. A report by Business Leadership Today says that disengaged

employees cost an organisation approximately $3,400 for every $10,000 in annual salary.

Research suggests that highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave the organisation they work for, resulting in a cascading pile of cost benefits as employee turnover rates are reduced, avoiding the probable cost of new recruitments along with time and effort in the intervening period and saving on employee compensation (COE) which is now fulfilled by informal structures and the work itself. Although, in many cases, incentives from the management are the primary reason for higher job satisfaction.


Several authors have developed the notion of distinct entrepreneurial role identities that are linked to particular activities. Entrepreneurial passion is considered to be the flame of direction and action that fuels goal pursuit and enables entrepreneurs to overcome the challenges they encounter in the course of business processes. Broadly, there are three role identities:

(1) an inventor identity, where the entrepreneur’s passion is for activities involved in identifying, inventing and exploring new opportunities;

(2) a founder identity, where the entrepreneur’s passion is for activities involved in establishing a venture for commercialising and exploiting opportunities;

(3) a developer identity, where the entrepreneur’s passion is for activities relating

to nurturing, growing and expanding the venture once it has been created.


Over repeated business cycles, individuals associate themselves with activities that result in

intense positive feelings because they reiterate the individuals’ salient identity. While an

entrepreneur with a salient inventor identity involves herself in seeking out new ideas, product (re)development or scanning the business environment for market-disruptive ideas, an entrepreneur with a developer identity may experience passion in activities related to market development and financial growth.


It is not necessary that entrepreneurs have a single identity that is more dominant but when they do, they may disengage from activities relevant to other identities. For example, serial and portfolio entrepreneurs may be more passionate about the founder role and willing to sell their firms to interested buyers, who can develop the venture to reach its market potential.

A serial entrepreneur is somebody who starts multiple businesses and Elon Musk is a great recent example, he is a part of PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX, apart from being an early member of OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research and deployment company, and acquiring X (formerly Twitter) in October 2022. Passion can also take the form of ‘Passion Investing’ which relates to collecting an object of desire and investing in it to turn your passion into profits. Passion investing at its core is about the joy of owning a particular asset. Whether buying a piece of art or a classic car, it adds to personal satisfaction and its prolonged ownership brings joy to investors. Passion investments for certified businessmen can also take force by investing in sporting leagues and franchise clubs, which not only add a competitive thrill to the investment but pave the way for a strategic marketing add-on as sporting events attract eyes across the globe.

When done right, it is a great way of diversifying your portfolio and in the age of stock market volatility, passion investing makes the process of investments personal and enjoyable to investors


Suparna Bhattacharjee and Hrishikesh Sriram


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