Follow your skills, and the passion will come

Normally I like to begin September with a rallying cry to start the fourth quarter strong so you lay the groundwork for a healthy holiday period sooner rather than later. There’s a lot to gain by spending long hours in the office over the next week to get the marketing engine chugging for traditional periods ahead on the calendar as well as to plan the next year’s budget. To put it simply: summer is over — time to get back to work!

The focus of this post is passion versus skills. Many would say the best path in your career is to follow your passion. Find what you love, and move towards it by developing skills that support this pursuit. Passion will also be the undercurrent for your mental perseverance through thick times and thin. Likewise, when hiring we often look for this fundamental enthusiasm about the hotel industry under the auspices that skills can be taught.

One problem our society faces these days is that one’s passion doesn’t often align with one’s skill set or chosen industry. The passion gets downgraded to hobby status. You can follow what might otherwise be deemed a hobby, but how will you pay the bills? A compromise is in order as people attempt to find a career that partially intersects with what they truly want.

Passion isn’t something one builds through instruction, but it perhaps is something that can be conditioned. First, if someone is exceptionally skilled at a particular task or in a specific field, it is easy to assume the passion is already there in some shape or form. Second, skills can take a long time — sometimes more than a decade — to reach proficiency, and witnessing this self-maturation can be a rewarding pursuit onto itself.

In this sense, enthusiasm for one’s job grows in tandem with one’s workplace successes. To put this in perspective, think of your own career from its humble beginnings until now. Do you feel the same way about hospitality now as ever before? Did you lose your zeal as you settled into a management stream, or did it grow with new challenges (and pay raises)? For me, it’s the latter. The more I read and ruminate on the hotel industry, the more I come to appreciate it and the more eager I am to continue my work in this field.

How about you? How have you found your passion for hospitality, and how will you continue to renew it as time goes on? And thinking broadly, would you place passion as the top priority for choosing a career or in hiring, or does this designation belong to skill?