With respect Dan, I think you're being a bit black and white there mate.
For me design is a HUGE passion to the point where it's an obsessive curse at times and I have to step away for the sake of my sanity sometimes.
It's my vocation and my hobby all in one.
In my spare time I'm on the web checking out design/illustration sites and constantly thinking of new projects and ideas and doodling, sketching and I literally view the world in a design perspective.
Regarding what I put in to a project then I'd say well over 100% and I'm totally anal when it comes to detail and sometimes I'll take on a project because I want to do it rather than for the pay.
Don't get me wrong, I'm still human, albeit an AWESOME one.
I get tired and pissed off with projects I work on to the point where I can hardly look at the screen but I always give them my best.
Speaking from experience (I have a lot) I think that much of the time an employer and an environment can knock the wind out of a designers sails.
That's me right now as I took an in-house role as a Senior Designer/Illustrator a while back to give my wife some time to study after being a Mum.
(I could expand on my job but I'll spare you).
To answer "If you don't like the work you're doing then why do it?".
Because I have two kids and a wife to support which is also my priority and when I have the opportunity I'll change things.
The quality of work I'm doing for them is light years in front of what they were paying 'agencies' a fortune for as I still have standards but I have no "passion" for it.
Not playing devils advocate with you as I hear what your saying but there are two sides to the coin.
If you always give your best then that is passion in my book. Maybe not the level of obsessive curse you described. I guess i'm wanting to know if people care about what they do or is it just going through the motions to pay the bills.
::And why shouldn't a person put their non-work life above their work life in terms of importance/passion?::
It's not about making one a priority over the other. It's about putting in the effort. Showing that you care about what you do and take pride in the end result. I've lost count of the times i've dealt with people who have a CBF attitude or are only interested in the money.
I think that's as much about caring about doing the best you can for someone who has put their trust in you as "passion" for the work. Once a client has agreed to engage me as their provider (and vice versa, I've agreed to take them on as a client) then it really wouldn't matter what I was doing for them, I will do my best for them.
I have no doubt a lot of people who have that CBF attitude didn't start out that way.
I've worked in some places and its pretty obvious why people have checked out mentally. At some point some of us or most might ask "why the f*** are you still there?" but mostly its because they need to get paid to pay for bills and family.
I go through percentages of giving a shit but I'll always work my butt off and be professional.
My last job was in a government enterprise and had some great projects, but there were a lot of issues with workflow and communication.
Ironically, when I stopped raising issues and putting forward suggestions for improvement, I was told my attitude improved and was rewarded with corporate box tickets to the Melbourne GP.
My creativity waned so slowly that I didn't notice until I finally realised, that although I loved the place and people, I hated the job and the way management made decisions, so I went on holidays for three months, rediscovered fresh ideas and resigned while on leave.