Passion in Work Part I


Passion fruit flower pixababy

On my way into Barnes and Noble, I was stopped dead in my tracks by none other than Oprah Winfrey.  There she was, a picture of beauty and contentment, filling the cover of the November “O” issue.

It wasn’t Oprah so much who caught my eye, but the leading headline, “What’s Your Calling? An Easy-Does-It Guide to Finding (and Fulfilling) Your Life’s Purpose.”

Much of my work with clients focuses on this question. Even though most already have, “The Big Career”, the sense of having found one’s calling or passion may have faded or remained elusive.

Oprah states, “There is the thing you do for a living and then there is the thing you are born to do.”

Intrigued, I picked up the issue and skimmed the article on my way to the “career section” in the bookstore.  I was on a mission to find some new books on passion and work.  While the “O” piece looked interesting, and even had a quiz to take, it would have to wait.

Once I reached my destination, it was only a matter of minutes before Nancy Anderson’s, Work With Passion in Midlife and Beyond, jumped out at me.  She makes the point that in midlife, our goals and values tend to change, and what we want from our work is different from when we started on our career path. Her book offers a more holistic guide to the career transformation process than is found in more traditional sources.

If the notion of finding your passion has remained a mystery or far- off dream, Anderson offers a series of “Passion Clues” to help you get on track.

Passion Clue #1
You Would Do the Work Even If You Did Not Get Paid For It.
People often have the hardest time understanding this clue, but it is the most important one.  Since we don’t necessarily equatework with having fun, we find it hard to imagine work we would do just for the love of it.

Passion Clue #2
Mastery Is Your Goal
When you are willing to put your best effort into something: practicing hard, making mistakes, challenging yourself, these are good indicators of passion.  Ambivalence is the opposite of mastery and signals mental conflict over committing to a course of action.

Passion Clue #3
You Are Transformed As You Do The Work
The work deeply engages you and there is nothing you would rather do.  Because you have committed to this direction, you are willing to face fears and uncertainly in order to grow and acquire new abilities.

Passion Clue #4
You Are Not Aware That Time Is Going By
Your work completely absorbs your attention.  There is a feeling of timelessness. You are focused in the present; thoughts about the past or future fall away.

Passion Clue #5
You Are Paid To Be Who You Are
Your work is closely matched to your personality, preferences and abilities.  If you are introverted, you are able to work and create in a quiet environment, at your own rate, without undue interruptions and intrusions.   If you are extroverted, you are around stimulating people, often in the limelight, able to learn and experience many new things.

These clues need not be limited to the realm of work, but can be applied to any aspect of your life that has meaning for you.  Your passion could be an artistic or musical pursuit, volunteer service, family, a spiritual path, or some other endeavor.  Work can provide the means to pursue your passion or interests, or it can serve as the channel.  And if you are not sure what you are passionate about, you are not alone.  The passion to do and create is present in everyone, but it can become buried and seem out of reach.

Next week I will share Anderson’s, “Off-Track Signals”, clues to what may take you off the passion track.

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Tim O

The coaching I have had with you has been life changing."

You helped me find the courage to seek out leadership positions and become a medical director as well as a physician advisor. I am grateful we crossed paths and am a different person because of it. You have inspired me to "believe" in spite of my inner skeptic. I consider you one of my most important mentors and am proud to also call you a friend. This says a lot given the apprehension I felt when I took a chance with our first coaching session. Even though I have already made a successful transition, I still value your ongoing mentorship and can enthusiastically attest that the value of your services is tremendous!

- Tim Owolabi, MD

Family Medicine
Lynette Charity

“I was at a crossroads in my medical career. I asked myself, "Do I stay or do I go?" 

I met Heather at the SEAK conference. She and I revisited this question.  Did I want to quit being medicine completely? She helped me to identify my needs, wants, and my vision for my FUTURE, not just in medicine, but in life!!!

She was able to listen to my "ramblings" about becoming a stand-up comic, lounge singer and voice-over actor and translate them into action steps.  I chose to become a composite of all of these. Now I am a more confident, healthier, happier person. I credit this in its entirety to the tutelage I have received and continue to receive from Heather.  She cares. She listens. She was there for ME.  She will be there for YOU!

- Lynette Charity, MD

Gail Miller

“I am forever grateful to Heather for helping me to recognize, I am more than just my M.D." 

Heather helped me understand that I am more than just a doctor and that my experiences in clinical medicine are valuable in so many arenas.  As a result I realized that there are other ways to use my background, still be able to help people and continue to challenge myself and grow.  To that end I discovered coaching - specifically health coaching.  I am on my journey becoming a health coach and truly loving it!

- Gail Miller, MD

OB/Gyn physician

“Thank you, Heather, for helping me transform my career, my faith and my life."

What started out as an initial thirty-minute consultation call turned into an amazing four-year journey that transformed my life, personally, spiritually and professionally. 

Heather helped me to discover my doing so, I discovered I still had a calling for medicine but it now came from a place of truth... wife and I are opening our first concierge medicine clinic in a community we love. I’m actually excited to have the opportunity to practice medicine the way I believe it’s meant to be, with a focus on the doctor-patient relationship and an emphasis on faith. I know if I had not reached out to Dr. Fork, my life would not be where it is at today.

- Steve Lapke, MD

Papillion, NE
Sue Zimmermann

“Heather gave me the confidence to create a new livelihood by following my heart."

She is incredibly knowledgeable about the range of careers available to physicians and provided me with advice and connections which I would not have found on my own.  From the start she encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and try different things.  I was laid off unexpectedly in early 2017, and Heather gave me the confidence to create a new livelihood by following my heart and making decisions based on trust, not fear.  Now I am enjoying working part-time in a clinical setting in addition to teaching and writing.

- Sue Zimmermann, MD

Orthopedic Surgeon
Devki Patel

After months of struggling to find a non-clinical career that matched my values and passion, I stumbled upon Heather's website which truly changed my life."

Heather's insightful and personalized approach to career coaching made me think outside the box since she took the time to evaluate my personality, values, interests, and preferred lifestyle.

Through her encouragement, practical advice, and professional connections, I was able to find a non-clinical position at a state Medicaid agency that aligned with my passion for population health and serving low-income communities. In addition to her coaching sessions, Heather has built a community of like-minded physicians through her blog, and I feel honored to recommend her to friends and colleagues who seek to make positive changes in their professional and personal lives.

- Devki Patel, MD

Jay Macregor

Working with Heather ultimately helped me leave my job in corporate healthcare and find a path that was much more fulfilling."

My career was going reasonably well but I couldn’t shake this nagging feeling I could do better; or at least find a better long-term career fit.  

I was able to find a surgery job that better aligned with my goals and professional interests.  Additionally, Heather helped me start a consulting business which has allowed me to pursue a true passion: helping medical students, residents, and attendings surgeons navigate the challenges of high-stakes standardized exams.    

If you are reading this as a “Type A” surgeon who doesn’t think coaching is for you, I would encourage you to give Heather a shot.  I’m very glad I did!

- Jay MacGregor, MD

Colorectal Surgeon

“I gained the confidence in myself to develop an action plan that blended the best parts of my experiences and interests into a cohesive career." 

Through our work, I learned to trust myself to make good decisions for my own future – something I hadn’t realized I was struggling with because as an emergency physician, I make life-changing decisions with patients every day. 

By feeding my creativity and interests in other realms of my professional life, I’ve found renewed compassion for my patients and myself, making every shift an opportunity to actually care for people. Thank you Heather. I really couldn’t have made these changes without your help!

- Liz McMurtry, DO

Emergency Medicine Physician

The simple truth is - Heather Fork totally helped me change my life."

I never would have had the courage to make the changes I’ve made without her unwavering support, wealth of knowledge and commitment. 

When I first started working with Heather, I was downtrodden...I’d been practicing medicine for 20+ years and yet had never quite found my place.  During the first year I worked with Heather, I left the practice I’d been working at, and recreated an entirely new professional purpose.

I’m now an executive and leadership coach, a university professor, and a Brené Brown Daring Way facilitator, and I have never looked back.  I love what I am doing more than at any other time in my professional life and I credit Heather with seeing in me what I was never able to see in myself, until now.

Don’t hesitate, don’t doubt yourself, schedule your time with Heather as soon as possible- she can help you reconnect to your purpose and reinvent your life.

- Amie Langbein, DO

Family Physician
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"After 30 years in academic medicine, I wanted a career change but had no idea where to start. Medicine was all I knew."

I signed up for coaching with Heather and it transformed my life. She helped me get clear on what I wanted my life to look like. We reviewed my skills, values, and strengths. She instilled hope in me that change IS possible after 50 years! 

The outcome is that I have created a life I love! I practice endocrinology part-time and own a life coaching business! Coaching with Heather is one of the best investments I have made in my life. 

- Karen Barnard, MBBCh, MPH

Endocrinologist and Life Coach

"Heather’s approach was great! She would listen to me and helped me appreciate who I am."

I remember when she said ‘do your resume before our next meeting’, I was about to push back but she gently nudged me along and I’m glad I did exactly what she wanted me to do. We also did interview prep via Zoom and I was offered a great job in UM. She has continued to follow up even after I was offered this job, helping me with pointers about negotiating. I will totally recommend the Doctors Crossing and Heather to anyone feeling stuck like me and looking for a great coach! Thank you Heather!

- Modupe Oladeinde, MD

Family Medicine