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Episode 27 - Transcript

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Hello, I'm Jacek Olender and this is PoLoop Angielski Podcast. For more materials for learners of English and the transcript of this episode, go to my website,


Last week, I was busy with my students discussing another interesting article from The Economist. This time it was about passion, passion for work. The title of the article is "The Pitfalls of Loving Your Job a Little Too Much. The title reveals immediately that the article deals with adverse, so negative, aspects of having a passion for work because of the word pitfalls. Pitfalls are problems or difficulties that are likely to happen in a process, or job or activity.


But before we get to those pitfalls of being too passionate about your job, let me start with a finding from a study by Harvard Business School. What we learned from it is that the number of job postings, so job adverts, in America that mention passion increased from 2% in 2007 to 16% in 2019. So it seems the importance of passion in the workplace has increased in recent years. Well, at least in the US. Apparently, passion now is so important that workers are advised to showcase their passion in job interviews. In the past, job candidates could talk about ordinary interests and hobbies, like reading or travelling. But now, employers often want to know if you have "a personal passion project". The more exciting and unique your hobby is, the better. The article gives some tips. If you would like to make a good impression on the interviewer, you might want to say now that your personal passion project is helping build motorway crossings for endangered animals. This should definitely make the potential employer look at your application more favourably. If you, however, don't care that much about the safety of hedgehogs crossing the motorway and don't want to lie, you might want to visit one of these career websites, which could help you sound more passionate about ordinary hobbies. Here is a suggestion from one site on how to talk to prospective employers about baking. Quote: "I love that process of researching new recipes and testing them out. I've been writing up my experiences with baking for the past three years. I'm very detail-oriented and love the scientific aspects of baking. However, I'm also a very sociable person, and I use my baking as a chance to get together with friends and family." Sounds so much better than just saying, "I love baking and eating cakes." Don't you think? Once you've landed the dream job, being passionate about it can still help you get ahead in your career. Another study mentioned in the article found that employees who show passion receive, on average, more positive feedback and have more opportunities for promotions and training.


But having an all-consuming passion for what you do can have adverse effects too. Do you remember? The title of the article promise to tell us about the pitfalls of loving your job too much. One problem is that companies may reward commitment over ability. Having a passion doesn't necessarily mean that you have a skill. I could be a passionate basketball player, but I don't think any NBA team would benefit from having me as a player. The second negative aspect of passion reminded me of a student of mine and his story. I don't want to reveal his real name, so I'll call him Tom. So Tom was a young man with a passion for cooking. He loved nothing more than experimenting with new recipes and techniques in the kitchen. He lived and breathed cooking and felt like he was in his element whenever he was creating a new dish. When we say that someone lives and breathes something, it means they are passionate about it, and it is an integral part of their lives. Just like, I'm sure, English is an integral part of your life. So you can say that you live and breathe English. And when I said that Tom was in his element whenever he was creating a new dish, I meant that he felt most comfortable and confident when he was doing it. So coming back to Tom and his story, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Tom got a job in a restaurant, a small one, located in the centre of Warsaw. His boss very quickly recognised his talent and gave him plenty of opportunities to showcase his skills. And Tom threw himself into his work, taking on extra shifts and spending long hours perfecting his dishes. When you throw yourself into something, you begin to do it with energy and enthusiasm. In Tom's case, he put in too much energy and too much enthusiasm. And I think he got a bit carried away. He became so focused on the job that he often lost track of time, and his private life started to suffer. However, in the kitchen, Tom was thriving, and his food was a hit with the customers. But then his boss realised he could take advantage of Tom's passion for cooking. He started giving him more and more responsibility without any extra pay, expecting him to work longer and harder. And Tom tried to keep up with the demands. But, eventually, he got burned out. He was exhausted and stressed out, unable to keep up with the workload. He began to make mistakes in the kitchen, and the quality of his dishes suffered too. One day, he realised that there was no passion left in him. He quit the job and started a completely new career. Tom's story is a reminder that sometimes passion can be a sort of double-edged sword - something that has both advantages and disadvantages. Employees obsessed with their passion often lose control of their behaviour, they get carried away. The truth is, there are only a few ways to show your passion for work, and a lot of people choose to display their excitement by working longer hours. It is a simple way to show your commitment. Some employers may take advantage of this; researchers have found that bosses believe asking passionate workers to do extra work for no pay is absolutely okay. They also think giving them tasks unrelated to their roles is acceptable.


So to conclude, passion for your job is excellent, but it may not be healthy. If it means working long hours, sacrificing time with your family, or doing tasks that have nothing to do with your job. You've been warned. As, I'm sure you've realised, this episode is full of expressions you can use to talk about your attitude to work. They could come in handy when you want to talk about your dedication to work at a job interview. As always, I recommend having a look at the transcript of this recording. Its link you can find in the notes to this podcast. By the way, you can find there also a link to the article I discussed today. Anyway, I hope my warning about being too passionate won't cool your passion for learning English. And you will join me next week for another episode of this podcast. Until then, take care. Bye!

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