Pursuing Passion

Whether you’re at the beginning of your career or close to the end, passion is important. Many times, success in life and in your career is attributed to characteristics like talent, intellect, discipline, or luck – and passion is overlooked. But when we’re passionate about what we do, we’re more likely to overcome difficulties and keep pursuing our goals, and therefore, succeed in life personally and professionally. Read on to hear from local professionals whose passion for what they do helped them succeed.

Amanda Varnell

Owner, Dish T’Pass

Why is passion in your work
so important?

We’ve all probably heard the quote, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”  While we all have rainy days in our professional and personal lives, there is a great deal of truth in this expression.

What makes you passionate about your role?

My passion is bringing people together around the family dinner table. As the mother of four (mostly grown) children, I have had nearly 25 years of experience creating meals that are delicious, easy to prepare, and that allow people to share and connect. I have always called this coming together around a great meal FoodLove.

How do you stay passionate during difficult times?

Just because I am passionate about Dish T’Pass, doesn’t mean that every day is filled with excitement. In fact, I’ve had my fair share of challenges. However, it’s at these challenging times that I am sustained by my passion for sharing FoodLove with my community.

What role does passion play in your work?

As I look to the future, I am passionate about exploring new ways to connect with people.  This is really the secret sauce of the Dish T’Pass brand, building genuine and lasting relationships with the people we serve. So, whether it’s finding ways to leverage technology or discovering new markets, every day presents new opportunities. I am excited to see what’s next; this is what fuels my passion each and every day.

Photo by Amy Jo Osborn



Jim Osborn

Assistant Professor, UTCOM Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Spine Surgeon/Co-Director Tennova Spine, Cleveland TN, Owner, Chili Pepper Ranch LLC, Chairman, Board of Directors and Co-Founder, Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer 

Why is passion in your work so important?

Passion is the motivator that fuels talent, hard work, discipline, and drives success. Passion is the key element in any successful endeavor. In a business, you can and should hire staff to fill in where you lack talent or knowledge, but without passion, the bus seldom leaves the station and certainly will not complete its route. Employees with passion will stir passion in those around them and be a multiplier for success.

What makes you passionate about your role?

I have had the great fortune of pursuing many professional roles in my life, and many simultaneously. It has been fueled by passion for pushing boundaries in a positive way, expanding my knowledge base in new areas, and ultimately providing an uncompromising resource and product. Although stressful at times, it is exciting to wake up each day and pursue the opportunities the day presents.

What advice would you give to others for pursuing their passions?

Understanding your passion is key. There are many ways to pursue your passion. You will not be successful in any part of your life without it.

What role does passion play in your work?

Passion motivates me to read more, consult with others to learn from their mistakes and successes as well as my own, to work harder when things are difficult or discouraging, and to appreciate the role others play in my success when it’s achieved.

Tracy Collings Reed DNP, MBA, RN, CRRN

VP, Patient Care Services & Chief Nursing Officer, Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation

Why is passion in your work
so important?

One dictionary defines passion as more than just enthusiasm or excitement. Passion is ambition that is materialized into action to put as much heart, mind, body, and soul into something as possible. To truly care for people who are sick or injured requires integration of heart, mind, body, and soul.

What makes you passionate about your role?

Nurses have the opportunity to meet people when they are sick or injured and have the privilege of helping them recover. I view this as a sacred trust, where we advocate for them and their health. To see a patient come to the facility on a stretcher but walk out the front door is truly an amazing experience.

What advice would you give to others for pursuing their passions?

Many of us spend more hours working than we do anything else. If you find work that you love and are passionate about, work becomes a pleasure and not a chore.

How do you stay passionate during difficult times?

Passion for patient care drives me to see difficult and discouraging times as a challenge and opportunity to think in a new way. When things are difficult and a patient or their family calls to tell me that their life has been made better because of the care we provided, the passion for patient care is ignited again.

Jody B. Riggs CPA, CFP® Private Wealth Advisor

Damon R. Riggs CRPC® Financial Advisor

Riggs & Associates, A Private Wealth Advisory Practice of Ameriprise Financial, Inc.

Why is passion in your work so important?

People. It is an honor and sacred trust to be a part of their lives. When we bring clarity, hope, or even comfort to a situation, it reinforces the passion we feel toward what we do.

What advice would you give to others for pursuing their passions?

Love what you do if you want to be good at it. Passion is the source of great solutions. Passion spawns creativity, creativity then energizes us, which in turn, feeds our passion.

How do you stay passionate during difficult or discouraging times?

By keeping the goal in sight. An oft-quoted scripture states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Vision is a path for hope, and hope helps retain passion. Interestingly that scripture passage goes on to speak of the importance of the law and restraint, but passion is no stranger to discipline. It is that strong desire for something that focuses our attention on the importance of restraint and boldness in equal measure on our way to achieving our vision.

What role does passion play in your work?

One dictionary defines passion as a “strong and barely controllable emotion.” We like the idea that emotion plays strong in what we do, but our reason and sound judgment controls the product. Isn’t that what we all want: smart solutions with color and creativity fueled by passion?

Taylor Monen

Co-Owner, Monen Family Restaurant Group

Why is passion in your work so important?

I’ve recently spent a lot of my time helping train employees. A phrase that I keep finding myself repeating to our managers is, “I can teach someone how to make great pizza or how to bake perfect biscuits, but I cannot teach them to care.” You either have a passion to do your best at whatever it is you do, or you don’t. Luckily, I found my passion a long time ago. I have always loved to cook. And, the passion for what Mike and I do doesn’t stop at being a chef. Creating a culture within our company is something that we are both very passionate about. We believe that this passion for a great work culture radiates through our staff, and all of our guests feel this in their experiences at our restaurants.

What makes you passionate about your role?

I love to create and I love to lead. My job gives me never-ending opportunities to do both. And ultimately, I love making people happy. I get a huge feeling of pride and accomplishment when I create food that puts a smile on people’s faces. And when I walk into one of our restaurants and see a staff that is genuinely having fun at work, that’s the greatest feeling of all. Over the years, I am more and more humbled by these moments of what I feel is real success. It fuels my passion to continue.

How do you stay passionate during difficult or discouraging times?

As such a public business, we are exposed to a lot of praise and criticism. When we have discouraging or difficult times, I remind myself how great I know we can be.  At the end of the day, I know how incredible the talent of our team is, and I know what we are capable of.

Rae Bond

CEO, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

Why is passion in your work so important?

I learned the importance of passion from my mother. She exemplified the motto, “Everyone matters or no one matters.” She worked multiple jobs to support five kids, but she always had an extra place at the table for stray kids or stray dogs who wandered in. The last 20 years of her work life were spent training inmates at correctional industries in Idaho. “If people have a skill and can support themselves, they are less likely to return to crime,” she would say, and none of her “guys” did return to crime.  My mother’s purpose and passion couldn’t be separated. She wanted to make the world a better place to be, and she did it one person at a time.

What advice would you give to others for pursuing their passions?

Passion without purpose is pointless, but passion driven by purpose is powerful. My advice would probably be to prayerfully consider your purpose. Why were you created? Understanding purpose first helps uncover your passion. A mentor who understands your purpose can help you find your way, just as my mother helped chart the course of my life.

What role does passion play in your work?

I have had this quote above my desk for years:  “Statistics are people with the tears wiped away.” Beyond data, beyond strategic plans, beyond spreadsheets and workflows are people – people with needs and hurts, people who are lost. My passion is to follow my mother’s path and make a difference because everyone matters.

Terri Holley

Owner, Embellish

Why is passion in your work so important?

I want to wake up every morning and look forward to the day! I want to be excited to go to work. I have been fortunate enough to do that throughout my career, but especially since owning my own business of helping women meet their wardrobe needs.

What makes you passionate about your role? 

I love getting to know someone, understanding their needs and wants, and helping them accomplish their goals. There have been so many women who started out as clients and have ended up being my closest friends. I believe having passion for what I do helps to make this happen.

How do you stay passionate during difficult or discouraging times?

My faith is very important to me. I start each day with some quiet devotional time before starting work. Even when you are following your passion, there will always be discouraging times. I am a bit of a worrier so I have to work on trying not to dwell on things I cannot change, but instead, focus on changing the things that can make a positive difference in my life and work.

What role does passion play in your work?

Nothing makes me happier than a satisfied client. I love working one on one with a friend or client helping them make wardrobe choices that make them feel like the very best version of themselves.

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