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Career Coach: Be Passionate and Persistent, Positive and Proactive

"Career Coach" Pamela Kleibrink Thompson lays out the four P's for career success.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson

"If you aren't fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm."

-- Vince Lombardi, (1913-1970), American professional football coach

A recent career coaching client was a former attorney on the fast track to becoming partner. His boss presented him with a hefty bonus and a substantial raise and told him that they were grooming him to take over the firm. He was in his early 30s and making well over six figures. His boss thought he was terrific, the work environment was exquisite, but as he looked out at the ocean view from the windows of his office on the 46th floor of his downtown office building, he felt miserable.

He hated his job and when he realized that the only thing he liked about it was the paycheck, he walked away. As he made the decision to quit the job and find a new career, a weight lifted from him and he felt ecstatic -- he hadn't felt free for years. Most people thought he was crazy to give up a high-paying job, but he thought it was crazier to stay in a job that he wasn't passionate about and that made him dread going to work every single day. He wanted his life back.

If you dread going to work every day, ask yourself if you are passionate about the career you are in. Perhaps you just fell into doing what you are doing now, and because it was easy, you just stuck with it. If you are unhappy, it's time to refocus your life. Be brave and find work that works for you.

Years ago, I took a break from the entertainment field because I had a boss who was crazy and I feared that getting another insane boss would drive me from the industry completely. I took a job writing copy for the marketing department of an insurance company. The job was stable and predictable. I could have worked there for a long time, but, from the executive offices at the top floor of the building, I had a wonderful view of Hollywood and the Hollywood sign. I decided to leave my cushy job and return to Hollywood. I gave myself a deadline date of resigning and told my supervisor that my last day would be tax day, April 15. I didn't have another job lined up yet, but I knew that I wanted to return to the industry I was passionate about.

Perhaps you are pursuing a career path because someone told you that was what you should do. Perhaps you were misguided by some well-meaning, loving person in your life who suggested a career that isn't right for you. Perhaps your passion is hidden deep inside, suppressed, because someone told you that no one makes money doing that. Or perhaps you believe that yourself.

Make sure the career path you are on is the right one for you, that it is taking you where you want to go in life. When your career is a good fit, work is fun. If you would go to work even if you weren't paid, you're in the right job.

But you feel you can't pursue your passion -- you feel trapped by obligations -- you have bills to pay, a mortgage and a family to support. One man, caught up in the corporate rat race who felt this way, shared his dilemma with his family -- his spouse and three children. The children were all old enough to realize that they needed to help their father, because it was obvious that he was miserable. The father had dreamed of starting his own business.

The two older boys were teens and they agreed that it wasn't necessary to have the latest electronic gear and gadgets, nor did they need to have their own car, nor any recreational vehicles or other toys. The youngest child promptly brought some toys out of her room and offered to sell them at a garage sale. The wife and husband brainstormed on the best prospects for her work (she had been a stay-at-home mom and promptly got a job). The teens also took up some extra work on the weekends instead of playing and contributed to the family coffers. They cut back on all the non-essentials -- movies, videogames, vacations and dining out.

The father was able to launch his business and was successful, because he was passionate about his new work, and his family supported him in his dreams, not realizing that ultimately they would benefit too.

Passion demands persistence. Those who are passionate are focused -- they have a dream and stick with it. Sustain your focus. There are going to be setbacks. How you handle these -- by learning from mistakes you make and the willingness to take risks, will set you apart from others. Don't stop working on your goals.

Passion is essential to accomplishing any goal and to achieving success. Those who have passion cannot be swayed by other's opinions and they continue even through failures. They must persist, persevering whatever the odds. Lance Armstong's first professional competition was the 1992 Classico San Sebastian in Spain. He came in last. He was devastated and thought of giving up, but remembered the example of hard work and determination of his mother, Linda. Instead of giving up, Lance trained as hard as he could even riding in pouring rain. The following year he finished first in the San Sebastian race and he is now one of the most famous bicycle racers in the world.

Passion is contagious. Socialize with those who are passionate and who support you in your dreams and goals. Surround yourself with positive people who are pursuing their own dreams and goals. Share ideas and information and build your network of friends and supporters. Attend classes and seminars, presentations by professionals and talks at industry meetings. Maintain a positive outlook and keep going no matter what obstacles threaten to block you.

When you are passionate, you are committed. Once you have made a real commitment to your goals, let others know. Be proactive and don't keep what you want a secret. There may be someone who can help you accomplish and reach your dreams. One thing you'll find as you work towards your dreams is serendipity -- things seem to fall into place as you work on your dreams.

When you follow your passion, you'll find you have renewed energy, a zest for life. When you find a career that has meaning and purpose to you, pursue it with all your heart.

Renew your passion during this month of Valentine's Day and love what you do.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a recruiter, hiring strategist, career coach and speaker, available for personal consultations and speaking engagements. If you are interested in her professional services as a career coach, speaker or recruiter, contact her at