Random Thoughts on a Wednesday Night – Passion And The Workplace


For those who know me, know I don’t sit still. My mind is always ticking over with something, making plans, organising something or experimenting with some new app or software.

Even quiet times at work you’ll find me reading articles, commenting in blogs, participating in tweet chats, doing MOOCs, listening to TED talks, podcasts or webinars. Anything to keep my mind active.

For me, the uncertain and anxious times in-between organisational restructures are perfect opportunities for professional development. But I’ve been noticing a trend over the recent years.  I seem to be having lots of professional development.

Why let all this wasted time make me unproductive? I may as well put it to good use and tackle my to do list of self-education.

We are in week 2 of the Exploring Personal Learning Networks cMOOC and I’m loving it because it’s making me think creatively and giving me the freedom to apply it directly to my work.

It’s my new pet project and already I’m thinking of how I can complete the assignment of coming up with a pitch for a CEO on the value of personal learning networks to an organisation.

I can see that I’ll probably have to use the assignment in ‘real life’ soon when this scenario arises in our organisation. It will happen. It’s only a matter of time.

So I decided to crowd source it.  Ask my PLN to solve an organisational issue around on boarding to demonstrate how effective networks are in solving a business issue. [Hence why you may have seen my Tweets and Google + posts asking for any onboarding examples.  I’m killing two birds in the one stone here.  The responses will form my pitch for the cMOOC but also, I’ve been asked to develop an Induction program  at work and I’m using my PLN’s stories, links and references to create a starting point for my plan].  Luckily, with 41 responses in Yammer, it seemed that everyone had an onboarding story they wanted to share about what worked and what didn’t.

But I digress…. let’s go back to talking about productivity.

Believe it or not, I enjoy going into work every morning to follow through my routine of grabbing a coffee, finding a desk, setting up my gear, logging on and then checking into the Google+ community to see what others are up to, what they’re writing about, what they’ve learned, check out their photos and blog posts.

I’ve gotten myself into a morning routine where I revel in the silence of the office…just me alone with all my PLN.

I read somewhere this week that getting feedback on social media equates to getting a dopamine hit – a high – and there’s something addictive to it.  I believe that. I’m living proof.

This week I’ve been reading various reports of the high levels of disengaged people at work and frankly, it’s depressing. Despite adding the reports on Yammer hopeful for some replies and robust debate, they may as well have tumbleweeds flowing through them.

No replies.


Obviously disengagement in the workplace is not as exciting as onboarding stories.

And I’m left asking the question incredulously, “doesn’t anyone else find this stuff important enough to comment on why they think this or do they just not care?”

Maybe they don’t.

Maybe I shouldn’t take things so seriously?

Maybe I should just lighten up – go with the flow.  Whatever.

No I don’t work that way.

I need to be inspired. I need a good news story.

It’s either that, or I’m writing to David Walliams and Matt Lucas to consider creating a comedy show like “Come Fly With Me” but on corporate life because I don’t know whether I need to laugh….or to cry anymore.

But what did I say about not being able to sit still?  Patience is not a virtue of mine.

Today, a fellow colleague came up to ask me about something but we got to talking about his passion.  It’s opera. He’s a tenor and travels around Australia singing to audiences.  He has a manager who co-ordinates his performances and manages his profile.  He’s well known in the opera circles.

Do you know it was one of the best conversations I had in the workplace for a while? Why?  Because I saw someone fired up for something that he believed in.  His passion came out with his words, his actions, his eyes and smile.

He was inspirational, magnetic and alive.

I missed this in our workplace.

After a long time of change and turbulence, I needed to see someone passionate again.  I needed to know that there were people who openly expressed their love for their art, their craft, their work, their hobbies and interests.

I needed to be inspired in my workplace.

Even my previous boss who left the organisation today turned to me at her goodbye lunch  and said, “I’m going to the Elliot Masie Learning 2013 Conference in the US because I need to be re-inspired for Learning and Development again”.

Even she was looking for it.

Workplaces are missing the passion and inspiration but we’re thirsty for it. We need it.

If organisations could bottle up that passion, they can achieve anything.

[Photo: Fire In Your Eye by J. Durham]

About Helen Blunden

My unique super power is that I see learning experiences in everything I do. #alwayslearning
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4 Responses to Random Thoughts on a Wednesday Night – Passion And The Workplace

  1. tanyalau says:

    Well I hope you continue to get out of your box and verbalise what people are thinking deep down. Even though they may not respond publicly, no doubt you’re influencing people’s thinking, getting them to question their position on this stuff, and potentially, just possibly, getting them to take action to change it.

  2. Thanks for your reply Tanya and I agree wholeheartedly with all of it. There’s really nothing much else to add – you hit the nail on the head. I don’t know how we can change it frankly, unless organisational culture is changed to one of openness and trust. Can this be done? I don’t know. I doubt it can be changed overnight.

    So here’s me the lone nutter who verbalises it in the workplace and people do really admire me saying it out loud because deep down they know it to be true – but they have their own concerns to look after and I totally understand that.

    I read that report and yes, the number is quite high. It’s mind boggling. What a pity we can’t merge our passions and hobbies with our work in some way – we’d be a lot more productive….

    Oh well…back into my box I go….

    (Meetup went really well. I’ll be writing a blog post soon – met some very interesting people in different industries).

  3. tanyalau says:

    …and just on the other aspect we discussed previously – often it’s the organisational structures that make it hard to do stuff that we know would make an impact – it’s exhausting (as well as risky) to fight all the time.
    btw, how did the meet up go? I’m sure it was a night filled with passionate exchange of ideas!

  4. tanyalau says:

    Hi Helen, I have also become addicted to #xplrpln – finding, reading and commenting on blog posts, G+, tweets…it’s the last thing I do at night and the first thing I do in the morning. I try to stay offline at work otherwise I’d be doing it all day! (as yes: it IS more engaging than my day job too). I probably need to allocate (and stick to) only doing #xplrpln during specific times and for a specific time. But I’m hopelessly undisciplined at that. And it’s hard to control an addition :p

    Just on your point of disengaged workforces – I read a report earlier in the year on the disengaged workforce too (something like 70%..?). It’s kind of interesting to juxtapose that with reports saying that we’re also working longer hours than ever – which, if both of these things are true (and assuming it’s the same people reporting both disengagement whilst working longer hours) – it basically means people are spending vast amounts of time doing stuff that doesn’t really interest or excite them. Which IS quite depressing.
    On your observation about lack of comment on these reports in yammer – i think this goes to our convo in G+ and what you were saying about fear: perhaps people are just steering clear of commenting on this because they don’t want to publicly acknowledge they could be disengaged. Publicly acknowledging – or even associating themselves with – disengagement in an internal corporate forum during a restructure is, I’d suggest, just way too high risk for most people. Because even though they might be disengageed (as you said in G+) – when people have mortgages etc, need for job security trumps debate. If this is the case, maybe you’ll find they might have a quiet word with you about it in the hallway, but perhaps just not in a public forum that their manager (or prospective manager) might also have access to.
    But it’s interesting to hear just how many people have or seek passion and engagement outside of work – that’s saying something about how the work and our workplaces.

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