I’ve been reading lots of stories about the “Great Resignation.” I perceive a clear theme running through them all. It seems that a big reason people are leaving their jobs is about “following their passion.” I started to wonder if passion is the same thing as creativity. I imagine someone following their passion as being creative, so could this be a clue to the “why” behind the “Great Resignation?”

But in JR Dillon’s post on Medium.com he posits that creativity and passion are two different things. He thinks that we also get their definitions wrong. Being creative would mean “taking everything you know and developing a novel pathway, idea, or product.” Passion would mean “enduring something because it is worth the burden of suffering.” Considered in this light they are not the same thing.

I’ve gone to lots of entrepreneurial events. Here I’ve seen that many of us feel stifled in our jobs, and unable to be our “true selves.” Many of these people do not feel passion for the work they do for someone else. The burden and suffering is not worth enduring. Working for someone else is only done to keep a roof over their heads.

Speaking of our homes, the pandemic saw many of us working from home, with more time to reflect. More time to notice the burdens and to face our lack of desire to endure them. We had time to listen to that small voice inside that says “what if?” We had time to consider any topic dear to our hearts that we want to enact to improve something in the world. We felt helpless and a little bit guilty as survivors. This may have amped up our desire to relieve other’s burdens as well.

This increased burden has pushed us beyond what we will accept to stay in unhappy situations. The idea of being creative and of changing the world in some positive way became a shining star to orient upon. We finally understood our level of passion and found it wanting. And we discovered where our passion would actually be applicable.

We still need to eat and still need to pay our rent or mortgages. No matter how unhappy we may feel in a job, it may be impossible to leave it right now. As we watch others leap into working for themselves we may find things even more painful. But, we can still change roles into something closer to our hearts. That might be somewhere with more shared values with the employer. It might be finding a new role that allows us to be more creative, no matter how we each define that. Something that ignites our passion!

If we cannot change jobs now we may wonder if there is there any way to increase our passion for our current roles. It seems an obvious answer is to introduce some creativity; something only we have thought of. That of course, is easier said than done.

My turn to posit. Agile may offer some answers to those dreams. In your current/new job, or by becoming an agile entrepreneur. We can see that Agile has evolved a lot since it was first captured in the Agile Manifesto. I feel like it has been taken prisoner, made commercial and corporate, and some might say has lost the spirit of agile along the way (rather unsurprisingly!). It was never supposed to be a tool to squeeze more productivity from staff. Agile should have empowered all and created space for innovation and quality. It should have led to high performing teams. But we have robbed Agile of agility and freshness, and snuffed the creative spark. We have formalized it and attached all sorts of “should do’s” and “should not’s.”

But none of this has to stay this way. If you decide to view agile with a small “a” instead of a capital “A”, there will be no agile enforcement police at your door. You can choose to see it as a way to create conditions for creativity and innovation that will stir passion. The acts of leadership we want to encourage may in fact be in those moments of creativity. Moments when someone says “we can do it in a different way.” Moments when we see that we can work in our own way that is unique to this team, this product, this company and this time.

You may not be able to fly away in the Great Resignation, but you can indeed make the world (and your world) better. You can be creative. And you can think about agility in a new way. You don’t have to change the world, but if you find a way to be creative right where you are, you just might!

Photo courtesy of Gratisography