Passion Projects: Their Purpose in Your Business

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Inject inspiration into your private practice and community

By Phil Cadman, PT, DPT

Passion projects are projects that inspire you and your team; projects that push you to explore your inner creativity and personality.

There is a trend in the business community to provide time and resources for their staff to begin to do things outside of work that people are passionate about. How do you successfully pursue a passion project that can inspire you, your staff, and your community without getting in the way of running your business?


We all can recognize the projects, events, and causes that get us fired up, and we can’t help but talk to everyone we meet about it. Finding out what we are passionate about and what gets us excited enough to act and be a part of it can be the challenge. As physical therapy private practice owners, we would love for that to be part of our physical therapy business and have our staff be just as excited about what we are doing as we are. Not every physical therapy practice is seen as a passion project for anyone other than the owner, though. Your employees may be passionate about physical therapy but that does not always translate into a passion project. Maybe there is another way for us to take on a passion project by getting involved through giving back to the community and helping others outside of work. Providing some possibilities for people to get involved with giving back and serving others outside of their normal daily job duties can be powerful in providing job satisfaction while providing a service to others.

Recently we had the pleasure of putting on a 5K race while fundraising for a program called Step First. This program is part of City Gospel Mission in Cincinnati. Their vision is “to use walking and running to love on, encourage, educate, impact, and involve addiction recovery participants in the importance of physical fitness, teamwork, and achieving goals, to participate and train for walking/running events with community while going through their addiction recovery journey that leads to life transformation. To bring awareness and support to Step Forward and City Gospel Mission to break the cycle of poverty and despair…one life at a time.”

We teamed up with Landmark Church to organize the race and keep the costs lower to ensure that the money raised would go toward the program.


Many of our staff did not seem to understand the reason why we took this on initially but as we attended meetings and we had more interactions with Dave Pinson, the Director of Ministry Advancement, from City Gospel Mission, they began to see the fruits of the labor that we and other projects can provide to people outside of our daily work lives.

For others, the realization of the “why” didn’t happen until race day. Our employees were willing to put in their own time because of their commitment to our core business, our outpatient physical therapy business, and the want to serve their own team and company. Up until the race, they went through their tasks of checking in pre-registrants, signing up people who showed up on race day, and completing all the other pre-race preparations and set up. We were able to meet many of the people who were a part of the Step First program of recovery through City Gospel Mission. You could sense their comradery and commitment to themselves, and they supported each other throughout the day. Some of the participants walked and some of them ran, while others did a combination of walk and run. The common acts that I saw while running was that every one of the participants cheered each other on and encouraged those around them. They were joyful and determined in their goal for the day while feeding off of the encouragement of the participants and volunteers around them.

Seeing the “why” in action was inspiring and I was able to see the change in my staff as they were able to see the results of their participation and success in what they had been a part of. Not every business has to create the passion project like we did in this example. If you are a leader in an organization, you should consider setting aside some time to talk with your team about what interests or ideas they have to improve themselves professionally or personally. This gives them a chance to share what they enjoy doing when they are not at work. This will offer some valuable insight into what kind of an individual they are. You can kick this off with a Google Docs questionnaire and follow up with an in-person meeting to talk about the results and get the ball rolling.

Once you have the guidelines set for how an idea is submitted and what the employees should expect after they submitted a request you will need to develop a process for assigning tasks, setting timelines, and providing time to work on the project in work hours. Passion projects are about giving your team time and resources to do something different. When you create this kind of culture and environment, it tells your employees that it is not only good to have other interests, but that they have your support in pursuing them. In turn, they will develop skills and will likely provide a greater sense of dedication and loyalty to the team and the company.

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Phil Cadman, PT, DPT

Phil Cadman, PT, DPT, is an APTA Private Practice member and the owner of Premier Physical Therapy Services in Cincinnati, OH.

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