I become quite motivated and energised when I meet people passionate about their work. I have always believed one of the main keys to success in engineering is simply being passionate about what you do. Whether it is in business or your personal life; passion is the driving force. This is undoubtedly challenging with the shifting demands made on an engineering professional today.

An ex U-boat commander was passionate

I have come across many engineering professionals who are absolutely passionate about their work. One was a charismatic ex U-boat commander (from WWII), Andy, who knew everything about mechanical bearings and materials handling and taught me much . And was absolutely passionate about the subject (as well as hang gliding into his early eighties off huge sand dunes). Another was a process control engineer, Wolfgang, who as an accomplished aeronautical design engineer was a top performer in process control, with an especial delight in working with intractable problems such as high levels of dead time in the process. Another is Patrick, who loves to tackle seemingly intractable huge power system protection problems (and even gives his wife lectures on the subject). All of these demonstrated outstanding engineering ability in their respective fields. And are truly inspirational. And achieve incredible things in their career.

Thus one has to work on projects which drive up your enthusiasm. And if these projects help your firm succeed even better; and at the same time you can drive up and refine your skills and knowledge, your motivation and achievements will soar to incredible levels.

Identify your passion

How does one identify these areas of passion ? This requires intensive (painful ?) self evaluation and some serious thinking about what really excited you in the past – work experiences and hobbies. Don’t let your thinking be affected by money; although you may ultimately conclude that whilst a particular area of engineering is your passion, the financial sacrifice at this stage in your life may not make it worthwhile or possible. And as one’s career may change a four or more times in your lifetime; so your passions may change as well. Trim your sails as your life changes.

Go for it – in an engineering way

Once you’ve identified your passion – then go for it. Life is too short to hesitate. As a colleague says – once you have discovered your passion in your career; you never need to work another day again. One of my favourite poets, Tennyson remarked: Happiness in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of one’s passions.