Don’t Chase The Paper, Chase The Dream

Attending a conference this week full of powerful speakers created some memorable moments. What always seems to stand out are what I call the ‘power statements’. The quote you could recite without notes.  The bold statement that makes you stop dead in your tracks and think about your work, life, relationships, what is missing, most important and worth your time, energy and investment.  Returning from SHRM 2011 Las Vegas there was one that resonated for me in a big way:

“Don’t Chase the Paper, Chase The Dream”

This quote was introduced during the Tony Hsieh keynote on Delivering Happiness.  It is a powerful quote borrowed from Diddy while delivering advice to now deceased rapper Notorious BIG and related to pursuing passion over profit – another power statement delivered by Zappos CEO Tony and later supported with the Simon Bailey suggestion to “Pursue Purpose over Profit”.  This whole idea of meaning over money was also reinforced during the Arianna Huffington keynote, “pursue doing good by feeling good…find the meaning….the purpose.”

Sir Richard Branson even put his own spin on following your instincts boldly with his “screw it, let’s do it” approach to business.

There were certainly plenty of actionable ideas behind the inspiration but it does beg the question.  Does the passion play and meaning movement advice from these entrepreneurial giants translate to the everyday practice of Human Resources and the future of work?

It better start.

65% of employees are classified as under-engaged.

84% of employees intend to look for a new job in 2011.

When work becomes a life necessity (drudgery?) over something we look forward to doing, it is a problem.

Work is an emotional experience.  People are hungry for more meaning.  Money matters.  But it is so much more satisfying when you find (and help others find) the intersection of passion and the paycheck.

In fact, that really is what Delivering Happiness is all about.  Cultivate a culture of passion and purpose and watch the profit follow.  It is hard work.  It takes planning, strategy, values, vision, development, alignment, authentic leadership and focus. On things that may seemingly feel like they are intangible.  Relationships.  Communication.  Trust.

Passion doesn’t manifest on auto pilot.  It happens on purpose.

As leaders and managers we’d all do better by being in the business of dream chasing with those in our employ.  We all show up at the office with our own individual needs, hopes, dreams and desires.  They are all different.   As leaders if we can understand those unique needs, focus on the whole person (work and life require balance and flexibility), cultivate meaningful relationships, create clear expectations, design a better experience and align toward a common purpose we will be taking giant steps in the right direction. That is where people are free to flourish.

We all deserve the freedom and independence to chase our dreams. At work. In life.

Happy July 4th!

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