All Star Spotlight: Reigniting Your Passion – Interview with Mark Lindquist

Discovering our strengths and remaining passionate about our everyday work are challenges most of us have encountered. This can be particularly difficult when you have more than one passion.

To learn how to keep our passion and enthusiasm for work, we recently sat down with Mark Lindquist, a motivational speaker, actor and entertainer who is a keynote speaker at the 2019 MRINetwork United Convention in Orlando, FL. As a preview to his discussion on Reigniting Your Passion, Mark provided the following insights:

1. How did you decided to become a motivational speaker on the topic of reigniting your passion?

I guess I go back to the early days of being a motivational speaker as an early high school graduate. I thought, what does a kid like me have to share with anybody? And I really started to examine as a part of a Tedx talk that I was writing, what is your message that you would bring to people? So, I wrote this little talk about the process of finding one’s passion: Loving what they do, enjoying life and squeezing the most out of it.

I’ve got a hodge podge of different experiences; served in AmeriCorp, went to college, served in the military, became an actor, all of these random things, but they didn’t necessarily amount to any one expertise. I said if I have something to share with the world, it is really just the way I have been blessed to embrace life and squeeze the most out of it. I gave the Tedx talk about it and we’ve been lucky enough to have folks view that on YouTube. We’ve been fortunate enough to share that message with corporate audiences around the country, and then I realized that it doesn’t matter what job you’re in, it doesn’t matter what industry, it doesn’t matter how much you love that industry. Every once in a while, we need a little reminder about the work that we do that we love. How do we translate that into calling it a passion? And if you’re passionate about the work and the life you live, what are some of the things you need to do to keep that going? Those thoughts have culminated in this keynote that I travel around the country giving and it’s a reminder to people that maybe they can do more.

2. What are some tips you would offer to people who have not had a linear career and are trying to take their experiences and figure out their passion?

How can they pull that out of these experiences to be more productive? I think first it’s a willingness to try, and a willingness to go against the grain when it comes to the human nature of wanting a familiar routine. To step outside of that comfort zone takes hard work. It takes a bit of motivation, initiative, energy and so often people need to step out into the unknown and try the new thing. Maybe you’re working at company ABC and you love the company and the people, but maybe you need to take on an additional role. Maybe you need to expand your career goals and change a department. Or try something new. People’s idea of success being this linear career trajectory, I don’t think is realistic in an ever-changing world. We need to get real with ourselves and understand we’re dynamic creatures and we are going to change. The world around us will also change.

Gone are the days of having a job for 40 years. Maybe you entered the job in HR but are more suited for marketing. Are we having those conversations with recruiters to identify the true passions and strengths in our lives, or if we’re at one company are we having those conversations with our leadership or our supervisor to maybe say our satisfaction level at this company is maybe a 6 or 7? What if I could bring my gifts to another department or role, and maybe find myself satisfied at an 8 or 9? It all comes down to one’s willingness to shake it up, to change and try something new.

3. For people that can’t seem to narrow things down to one thing – maybe they have 2 or 3 professional interests – what advice would you give these individuals to merge these interests and be more productive?

To truly succeed in life at the highest level, one must find their true strengths and the lane that they thrive in and go all in on that. The opposing argument to that is we are multi-faceted human beings who have many interests. Like I love speaking and I love singing. So how can we do things in life that hit on all of our strengths. To think that you could find one role that allows you to do all those things that are your passion, may be realistic. But maybe you’re going to have to be creative and find a way to scratch that itch in your off time or in your hobbies or volunteer work. So, we have to create a plan for the whole person that enables them to pursue their passions.

4. There are probably moments when even you get bored of helping others find their passion. How do you reignite your passion for helping others reignite their passion?

Humans love routine. Yet, when you’re doing the thing you love, sometimes it can get old. So, it is our responsibility, to once you’ve found the things you truly love, to always be in the process of re-inventing yourself. For example, when I was on a world tour singing for the troops in the USO Show, we would always remind ourselves that it is our 125th time doing this song, but it is the audience’s first. And so how do we strategically, systematically approach our work of singing that song and making it new every time? Our answer was to try and improve the delivery of said song 1% every night. Meaning I’m going to attempt to do that dance move with just one extra bit of flair, or maybe hold a note in a different manner. In the speaking world if I’m telling a joke, I’ll will change the inflection in my voice, or change the timing and give it a longer, dramatic pause to see if I can get a bigger or better reaction from the crowd. And that’s the process that masters of their craft always engage in. We’re doing the same task, report, same meeting on a routine basis. But every time we do the thing, whatever that thing is, can we approach it with a 1% improvement mentality? What am I going to do today, that’s going to make it 1% better. And to me, that takes the mundane out of routine.

5. So what would you say to people, – we’ll use recruiters for example – who have a set process that they need to stick to?

How would you recommend that they take the advice you just gave and get out of a rut? Possibly the 80/20 rule. There are procedures, standards, best practices that are the 80%. If the job or even committee role doesn’t allow for that 20% pivot; I would think that one needs to re-evaluate their process. If it is so rigid that you can’t allow for some innovation or some variance, it may be time to rethink that role. Even the most structured military units doing things at the highest level, they always account for and allow some sort of adaptation. The advice would be to look for that tiny bit of improvement. That small place that you can move the needle. If you’re at a company that doesn’t allow for that, that might not be a company that’s around in 20 years. We all need to be open to incremental improvements.

6. What is the biggest misconception people have about finding your passion at work?

The misconception is that they would need to be someone different from who they are today, in order to be passionate about the thing that they do. It doesn’t matter what job you’re in, there is the silver lining of the thing you enjoy. And it all comes down to what we focus on. We can choose to focus on what we love, or we can choose to go to work every day, pissed off about the same old things. The employee that I want to work with is the person who relentlessly pursues the thing that they love about work, and then does the work to try to expand that love. Most people are in career fields and jobs for one reason or another. Essentially, they like something about it. You got into it for some reason. You have to remind yourself of that. And then build upon that original passion for the work that you do.

Final words of advice: In the work that we do and the lives that we live, we all have some next level to get to. In the routine and in the day-to-day, we sometimes forget to pause and dream big. We sometimes forget to write a bucket list based on the career trajectory we have in mind. We need to take that time to dream big and consider when we’re looking back at life, what are the things we want to have accomplished, what impact do we want to have on the world? And what do we need to do to make those things happen?