work life

creativity inspiration & influence work life

Passion – 17 inspiring quotes on doing what you love

January 12, 2017

 passion beach

PASSION is my word for the year for 2017. Here are 17 quotes about passion and doing what you love sparking me into action as I step into this year. I hope they inspire you too.

“Chase down your passion like it’s the last bus of the night.” – Terri Guillemets 

“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.” – Simon Sinek 

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” – Steve Jobs

“Absorbed in this world, you’ve made it your burden. Rise above this world. There is another vision.” – Rumi

“When you catch a glimpse of your potential, that’s when passion is born.” – Zig Ziglar

“I began to realise how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good.” – Roald Dahl

“If you take responsibility for yourself, you will develop a hunger to accomplish your dreams.” – Les Brown

“There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela

“What makes you different and weird, that’s your strength.” – Meryl Streep

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” – Oprah Winfrey

“Create the life you can’t wait to wake up to.” – Josie Spinardi

“One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested.” – E M Forster

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” – Steve Jobs

“I have no special talents. I am just passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein

“Respond to every call that excites your spirit.” – Rumi 

“Take your broken heart and make it into art.” – Carrie Fisher

“By doing what you love, you inspire and awaken the hearts of others.” – Satsuki Shibuya 

Share your thoughts

Which is your favourite quote from these ones? Or do you have another quote or thought on passion that inspires you? Would love to hear – share your thoughts in the comments!

I’ve also included a few quotes below you can tweet to share the inspiration and love:

Chase down your passion like it's the last bus of the night. Click To Tweet

When you catch a glimpse of your potential, that's when passion is born. Click To Tweet

Respond to every call that excites your spirit. Click To Tweet

By doing what you love, you inspire and awaken the hearts of others. Click To Tweet

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passion flower

Images from Pixabay with thanks.

blogging work life

Blogging and work

October 21, 2012

There’s a bit of a brick wall between this blog and my work role and working life; maybe not so hard as brick, but a deliberate separation. Because I’m in a leadership role in a public sector organisation with a social media policy, it’s important that I keep a clear space around this blog about my creative self and my life other than work.

I don’t talk about work or my work role, except obliquely and generally in terms of how creative strategies for life may apply to work contexts and vice versa. Some work colleagues know about my blog and keep an eye on it; I blog under my full name so it’s not secret; it’s just not so connected, sort of like two parallel lives.

But of course, in practice it’s not quite that straightforward. It was interesting when things started overlapping more than usual recently when I started a new temporary work role in a different location. Once this new work role was announced, I noticed a sudden surge in my blog stats and people coming to the blog via searching for my name. People were trying to find out about me: just who was this person who was coming to lead them?

As I moved around to meet people in my temporary job role, a number of them said to me, “I love your blog!”. They were tentative and respectful, aware of some of the silent boundaries between the work role and the rest of life, but knowing that I was blogging publicly and out there for all to see. They mentioned my creativity, and how pleased they were to see that I had another life other than work. We discussed the links between creativity and leadership and the value of thinking in this way outside the work role. They loved the links in my blog posts and were interested to see what I was engaging with.

They didn’t:

  • express horror that I had a creative life other than work
  • focus on any negative aspects or details of my writing
  • pick holes, find fault, wish for more or otherwise find me wanting

They just engaged with my blog as intended as a space where I am out in the world, alongside my work role, complementary, mutually inspiring and whole.

This made me reflect on many aspects of where work and my creative self coincide, overlap and mutually benefit each other, and where there is further potential for this. It made me think also about whether these aspects are too separate and need to come together more. Some other bloggers have been thinking about this also.

In ‘Personal Blogging at Work Increases Productivity’, a recent article in, Susan Adams discusses the link between personal blogging and the workplace. She reports on a new academic study that shows that:

Along with sharing information about work tasks, blogging at work pulls employees closer to one another, builds relationships, and over time, increases productivity.

The study looked at people blogging in work contexts and found that blogging also about leisure interests and other more personal aspects of life increased engagement and then translated into real life connection. Adams notes that:

We’re seeing more data that shows what we already know in our hearts: when we connect with people beyond work, we work together more productively.

For me, it’s also about bringing your whole self to work rather than leaving key parts of yourself, especially the ones that are your own personal drivers, at the door when you arrive.

On a related theme of the work and personal coming together in the physical workspace, Victoria Smith in a recent post on ‘Beautility: Making the Useful Beautiful for a Magical Work Space‘, highlights the concept of how we can ‘beautilify’ our workspaces and work tools, to make them both practical and a reflection of ourselves:

Most of us spend about half of our waking hours at work and our surroundings have a huge impact on our happiness, creativity, ability to focus, and even our interactions with others…..There’s simply too much evidence about the increase in productivity when our work environments are more pleasing to the eye and reflect us as individuals for companies to ignore the benefits.

Victoria has many practical suggestions for bringing the two together that have certainly made me reflect about my own workspace and how I reflect my creativity and personality there (or not!).

On the broader issue of creativity and work, in a recent Huffington Post piece, ‘100 Reasons Why You Don’t Get Your Best Ideas at Work’, Mitch Ditkoff suggests that the barriers we create with our thinking about the two polarities may well be the answer to where the real issues lie.

So perhaps there is less of a need for a wall between this blog, my creativity and the job role, apart from the caveats of social media policy, and that the interplay between them may result in more productivity and creative ideas in both spaces.

Interested in your thoughts on blogging and work and the interplay between!

Excellent photo taken in Singapore by my daughter, Caitlin

introversion work life

Working your introvert

July 31, 2011

I am an introvert, an INTJ in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator world and  basically off the dial on introversion. Yet I balance this with a job that involves a huge amount of people interaction, talking in front of groups, leading and participating in many meetings with complex interactions and as a result, often with very little time to myself to charge my batteries.

Learning to successfully balance this is an ongoing journey and finding the time for recharge is a challenge. I’m interested in working my introvert side, understanding its strengths and weaknesses, capitalising on it, identifying what I can bring to a situation. I am interested in how to work it rather than have it working, and sometimes exhausting, me.

Here are some gems I have found on being an introvert especially in the work sphere and how to bring your innate strengths into play for positive outcomes.

Leveraging the advantages of being an introvert at work – Penelope Trunk

This article from Penelope Trunk discusses how the world of work rewards and is basically set up around the needs of extroverts. Her article provides a balance to this by offering some tips for leveraging the advantages of introverts. These tips include: working from the world of ideas; giving full attentiveness for a short, concentrated time; improving your self-knowledge of your type; teaching other people how best to interact with you as an introvert; and learning about the job roles that would best suit you.  There are also some excellent references for further reading embedded in this insightful article.

Caring for your introvert – Jonathan Rauch

This classic 2003 article from The Atlantic is about understanding the orientations and needs of introverts. It looks at some common myths or assumptions about introverts and provides a balanced point of view. The article takes the perspective that introverts are misunderstood and dogged by stereotypes such as being shy. Rauch corrects this one by saying that “introverts are people who find other people tiring.” Rauch has some good pointers for balancing time with people and finding time to charge again. His answers to a scan of issues about introverts (are they misunderstood? are they oppressed? what are the implications of extroverts dominating public life?) provide useful  perspectives for introverts seeking to find points of strength and balance. I especially love the distinction between introverts who typically ‘think before talking’ vs extroverts who typically ‘think by talking’.

Top ten myths about introverts – Carl King

This article, in a similar vein and drawing on the book ‘The Introvert Advantage: How to thrive in an Extrovert World’ by Marti Olsen-Laney (also highlighted in Penelope Trunk’s article), lists Carl’s top ten myths about introverts. It captures them in a pithy way I could instantly recognise. The article concludes:

‘It can be terribly destructive for an Introvert to deny themselves in order to get along in an Extrovert-Dominant World.’

Suggestions for managing this include: understanding the myths, linking in with other introverts for support and the need for extroverts to respect the ways of introverts.

Extroverts, introverts, aspies and codies – Venkatesh (Venkat) Rao

This article is a fascinating summary of introvert and extrovert issues but takes a step further into the realm of micro-economics, transactions and social psychology. The article explores where the energy is stored in the terms of exchange from the introvert and extrovert point of view. It also reviews how introverts and extroverts manage isolation vs physical contact; 1:1 encounters and their depth; weak-link social fields such as coffee shops; strong-link social fields such as family gatherings; relationships over time and relationships with strangers. Venkat also looks at how the tension between extroverts and introverts plays out in the slang terms they use or might use for each other: aspies (a term used by extroverts for introverts and linked to Asberger’s Syndrome) and codies ( a possible term as none exists and linked to co-dependency). Venkat concludes by saying that introversion is becoming far more visible, resulting in shifts in the landscape of social psychology.

I was fascinated to read in Penelope Trunk’s article above that my type, INTJ, has the longest Wikipedia page:

‘Because the combination of being an introvert and being ideas-driven makes one very interested in learning about oneself. INTJ’s are an extreme case, but all introverts have this combination to some extent, and the self-knowledge will help you put yourself in situations where you’ll have the most positive impact.’

It’s true, I am an extreme case and this summary is a piece of evidence testifying to that, an addition to the INTJ genre. Hopefully though, it is of use in finding tips and resources to unpack your strengths and work your introvert or to understand the ways of those around you. True to type,  I can’t tell you how energising I found the experience of researching and writing it.

How do you work your introvert?


creativity transcending work life

The one clear thing Part 3: the essential work

December 17, 2010

There has been a bit of a gap between parts 2 and 3 of this little series on clarity so let’s recap. These thoughts stem from a year of struggling with some complex challenges especially culminating at the end of the year. I have learnt much from this experience and am distilling this here as a form of clarity for myself and others.

My experiences this year taught me that it is very easy to over-complicate things. Keeping things simple is a very powerful cut-through tool to keep a focus on solving issues. So my suggestions for moving forward are to find the one clear thing that is the essence of what you are trying to do or solve. The one clear thing emerges for me as:

  1. Finding the single question to ask that will answer much in its wake
  2. Identifying the essential work that needs to be done to answer it
  3. Putting in place the daily steps to get there and keep moving

Let’s think here about the essential work. Once you have identified the single question to ask, then you need to identify the essential work to be done to answer it. The key word here is ‘essential‘. It’s so easy to get side-tracked and over-complicate at this stage. So, at this point, identify the essential work that needs to be done to reach your goal or answer your question.

Examples of questions to ask at this point to identify or begin the essential work include:

  • How do we isolate the critical work to be done?
  • What data would provide clarity?
  • What tools would really help move through this block?
  • What’s the one change that would make the biggest difference?
  • What are the essential priority tasks to be completed now?
  • What is the immediate step forward to achieve this?
  • What’s the one real block to moving on?
  • Which critical people could help solve this issue?

Focused thought on these or similar questions can help you move through issues that are often quite simple and apparent but have become complex and muddy. If we can step away for some higher level thinking and rise above the detail, we can get a clearer view.

Talking to critical others can also be of great assistance: trusted friends, coaches, mentors, external customers and other stakeholders. Sometimes we are simply too close. A quick, sharply focused survey might assist for feedback to get improved clarity.

Mind-mapping, brain-storming and other problem-solving tools can also be of great value at this point. I have had a lot of success with Appreciative Inquiry as an overall framework for moving forward through complex situations as it focuses on the positive and what the future might look like. The four steps of Appreciative Inquiry are in themselves tools for identifying the essential work and getting a roadmap for moving forward.

Looking for the essential work, the key question and how to answer it, can also help overcome resistance, as complexity and murkiness are in themselves engaging and can stop resolution of issues. You can find yourself easily stuck and doing a lot of busywork and conceptualising and achieve very little.

What’s the essential work for you at present? How can you progress it?

Image, The sky is clear now by vincepal from flickr and used under a Creative Commons license with thanks


transcending work life

Gems #11 Managing complexity

November 14, 2010

Some recent gems about managing complexity.

While working on ‘the one clear thing’ series of posts and also while managing much complexity at work this year, I have been reading and reflecting about complexity: how we make things complex, how we can make them simpler and what enables this. Here are three great recent posts on this topic:

1. Pruning for Better Growth – Dr Monique Beedles

Part of the search for simplicity and clarity may relate to cutting back: weeding out , uncluttering the physical and psychological space and deciding where effort is best directed. Dr Monique Beedles says:

It seems counterintuitive, to cut something back in order to help it grow – but any gardener knows that a good prune is essential to healthy growth.

Are you, your blog or your business trying to be all things to all people? Maybe it’s time to review what’s really important and where to focus strategy and effort. See Monique’s article, a beautiful clear statement in itself, for some powerful questions to help review the focus of your business.

2. It’s complicated! Or is managing complexity simpler than you think? –  Australian School of Business

This excellent article discusses mindsets for managing complexity. It recognises that the old hierarchical, command and control models of leadership may not serve us in increasingly complex and competitive environments. The shift is to new leadership models that focus on creative problem-solving and the enabling of others to be solution focused.

Steve Vamos, president of the Society for Knowledge Economics (SKE) and the former chief executive of Microsoft Australia says:

The focus of modern leadership should be around breaking down complexity – or “making the complex simpler”…

Some of the key strategies discussed are around the concepts of:

  • the need for clarity of purpose
  • people understanding their place in the business
  • being solution-focused
  • the re-emergence of generalist leaders with strong problem-solving skills
  • the value of conversation and story-telling
  • the 80/20 rule and how to use it drive focus of effort
  • managing ‘wicked’, seemingly impenetrable problems with a new mind-set
  • bravery in tackling ‘wicked’ problems
  • strong leadership as the enabling of others to find solutions
  • persistence

Suggested approaches for superior leadership and the programs that develop it include: social entrepreneurship, design theory and innovation strategy. These skill-sets are seen as critical to encouraging different ways of thinking and promoting new solutions.

3. The eight word mission statement – Eric Hellweg, Harvard Business Review

Finally, a great approach from  Kevin Starr, the executive director of the Mulago Foundation which channels investments to socially minded businesses. His focus is around how clearly businesses can summarise their main reason for being through their mission statement.

So many mission statements are wordy, long, unclear and fall flat in the communication of their central message to those that matter in achieving it. Starr insists that companies he supports state their mission statement in under eight words using the format, “Verb, target, outcome.” Some examples provided are: “Save endangered species from extinction” and “Improve African children’s health.”

This is an excellent approach for enhancing personal and business focus. How clear are your personal and business goals? Can you express them in an eight word mission statement? How then can you measure success against the statement?


How are you making the complex easier to manage and solve in your personal and business contexts?

Image, Simple yet Beautiful by pranav from flickr and used under a Creative Commons license with thanks


blogging creativity transcending work life

The one clear thing Part 2

November 10, 2010


In  The one clear thing Part 1, I talked about the complexity and challenge around me and how the writing of this blog has emerged as one clear thing I can focus on at present. 

Finding ‘the one clear thing’ is the message emerging from all the complexity and multiplicity around me. It can be so easy to get overwhelmed and do the wrong thing or nothing. There is an almost innate tendency to make things more complex than they need to be.

What does it mean to ‘find the one clear thing’? It means keeping the complex simple. It means providing a cut-through to moving on and solution. The one clear thing is emerging for me as:

1. Identifying the key question(s)

2. Beginning the essential work

3. Making the daily steps


 1. Identifying the key question(s)

What key question(s) can you focus on, ask, that if answered carefully and consciously, would enable all the rest to fall into place?

This approach enables you to:

  • focus energy and effort 
  • avoid resistance and distraction
  • avoid the allure of complexity

As an example, in a workshop recently, we were working to resolve a complex business issue. The workshop was focused around a single, powerful question honed from a previous workshop of senior managers. It was our task to answer it. It was incredibly hard to keep the group focused but with the aid of a very skilled and dogged external facilitator, at the end, we were able to clearly and succinctly answer the question. We will use these principles to drive future business directions, structure and staff capability development now that we are clear.

Chris Guillebeau also uses the key question approach in his World Domination work to guide goal-setting for individuals and the difference they can make.  In A Brief Guide to World Domination – How to live a remarkable life in a conventional world’Chris talks about personal goals, ordinary people pursuing big ideas and also through this, making a difference in the lives of others. The key questions he asks you to consider, ‘the two most important questions in the universe’ are:

#1 What do you really want to get out of life?

#2 What can you offer the world that no-one else can?

I have written about this in an early post, ‘Why Transcending?’ and shown how answering these questions helped me to develop my focus here. Read Chris’s Art of Non-Conformity blog to see many examples of people who have used this technique to get them focused on the one clear thing that matters to them in their life’s work. For me now, the key question is reviewing ‘How can my blog work here bring my answers to those two key questions to life?’

Jonathan Fields in a recent post, The Bucket List Lie on his blog, Awake at the Wheel, also encourages us to keep it simple by making a list of one:

A single, meaningful action you’re going to take before the end of the day to move you one step closer to a single, deeply meaningful quest. 

Julie Kay of JK Leadership Development and the wonderful Developing Leaders Online encourages businesses to focus on The single most effective question you can ask in the context of customer service and feedback from clients. It’s a great question because it’s solution focused and provides some metrics for knowing when improvement has taken place.

You can see that the first step identifying the key question is:

  • action oriented
  • solution focused
  • resistance averse

So what’s the key question for you right now, the one clear thing that can take you forward?

I’ll explore the next step ‘The essential work to be done’ in a follow-up post very soon.

Image, The base of Looking Glass Falls near Asheville, North Carolina by Alaskan Dude from flickr and used under a Creative Commons license with thanks


creativity transcending work life

Thinking about transcending

August 29, 2010


Back to base. Thinking about ‘transcending’, the word, what it means, what it means to me.

Checking out the Merriam Webster online  on ‘Transcending’ yields up:


transitive verb:

1 a: to rise above or go beyond the limits of  b: to triumph over the negative or restrictive aspects of: OVERCOME
2: to outstrip or outdo in some attribute, quality or power
intransitive verb: to rise above or extend notably beyond ordinary limits

Examples of transcend:

1 music that transcends cultural boundaries
2 She was able to transcend her own suffering and help others
3 Her concerns transcended local issues

Origin of transcend:

Middle English: from Latin, transcendere – to climb across; transcend, from trans, and scandere, to climb
First known use: 14th Century
Related to transcend:
Synonyms: beat, better, eclipse, exceed, excel, outclass, outdistance, outgun, outmatch, outshine, outstrip, overtop, top, tower (over), surpass’

The words that resonate with me: to rise above, go beyond the limits of, triumph over the negative or restrictive aspects of, extend beyond ordinary limits, to climb across, eclipse, exceed, surpass and outgun. They suggest a strength of spirit, resilience, creativity and ability to find a source of power to go that extra dimension.

This for me relates to managing grief, pain and difficulty; finding solutions in the workplace; taking a creative approach instead of an old one; finding a fresh perspective;  being able to find ways of managing and climbing across obstruction or restriction; ways such as:

  • writing: poetry especially, but any writing that helps you understand and cut through – letters, emails, journals, blog posts, essays, long cathartic dumps of free-writing, submissions that clarify and come up with a strategy and creative solution to a problem
  • reading the right book: whatever it is – fiction to escape, non-fiction to understand, learn how to or make sense of; either form to learn about life, yourself, writing and another’s world
  •  listening to the perfect music for the moment, again whatever it is and thank goodness for ipods and other portable music sources that enable us to find the right song for the moment and play it now.
  • images and photography: creating an image that captures where you are, seeing an image that another has captured that echoes the world for you just now, wishing you had a camera for that image you have to capture in your mind’s eye to carry with you as the cameo of your current state of being
  • family and family history: past, present and future, those you have loved and lost and cherish, those you can see and hold and hang onto and connect with, those you have never met that mean so much to you somehow through your lineage because they are part of you
  • friends: people you chime with that become part of you through some serendipity or synchronicity of meeting – in the workplace, online, through your family, through your various interests in the world.
  • blogging to find a way through and beyond, to communicate and share this vision, to appreciate the unique visions of others and how this might inform and shape your own.

Hence my themes, categories and tags here in this special space.

The words that don’t resonate with me are the ones mostly about out-doing somebody else. ‘Transcending’  for me is not a comparison or a competition; it’s a personal journey of finding the extraordinary, the extra-special, the extra-creative way of managing and living positively and the difference this can make.

It’s become an intuitive personal mantra, my theme and centre, honed from experience but always developing into the future. I welcome you to join in the journey of exploring more about transcending, how the ‘ climbing across’ might be negotiated and the difference it could make. I welcome your thoughts here. 

‘The brighter the light, the darker the shadow.
Some things can’t be changed; they’re part of the show.’
Stephen Cummings – ‘The Brighter the Light’
Good Bones (Liberation Blues Acoustic Series)