In our book, “Don’t Dread Monday,” we introduce a powerful concept that is helping thousands of people re-engage and find sustained career success. And companies are realizing huge benefits. This concept is called "passionate core". Simply put, each of us has two or three unique needs that have to be met in our job. These core needs are really the source of our motivation. When these core needs are being met we have exponentially more mental and physical energy. When the core needs are not being met, we go through the motions, not really satisfied with our work regardless of the money or recognition that our company throws our way.
Given that everyone's core needs are different, uncovering them requires some introspection. By introspection we're not talking about delving into childhood experiences or taking a pilgrimage to Tibet. What we do mean is that you need to uncover the needs that your passions are helping fulfill. Let me explain.
Passions Point to Core Needs
Each of us participates in activities we are passionate about. Whether it is sailing, chess, golf, movies, reading, playing with your children, riding a Harley, swimming, jogging or cross stick, we love doing it. You know it is a passion if you think about the activity a lot, and you use your discretionary time and money to pursue the activity. You may even dream of making a living through your passion, but instead find yourself "stuck" in your job and company
Now here is the critical yet largely unknown truth - you are passionate about certain activities because the activities are helping you fulfill your unique core needs. For example, your passion for travel, fixing old cars and skiing may be fulfilling core needs you have for challenge and experimentation. And another's passion for gardening, reading and cooking may be fulfilling core needs they have for learning and creativity.
Once you know what a person’s core needs are, you gain incredible insight into what makes them tick - the source of their motivation. And, you will know what needs must be met in their work for them to be fully engaged.
What are Your Core Needs?
Start with yourself. You can uncover your unique core needs by listing the activities you are passionate about, and for each one asking yourself: what does this activity do for me personally? In completing this exercise you will notice that each of the activities you love to do is meeting a couple of the same core needs.
This exercise may reveal that the accountant who spends her weekends mentoring young children and volunteering at science camps has a core need to learn and share knowledge with others. The manager with a passion for playing basketball and baseball, and volunteering as a youth counselor, has a core need for competition and new challenges. And the trainer who is constantly fixing old cars and completing cross word puzzles has a core need to solve problems. In each case, discovering the person’s core needs provides powerful self-awareness. You now know what makes yourself, and others, tick. As a manager, you can answer the question – what will fully engage this person in their work?