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I hear it all the time, “You gotta be passionate about what you are doing if you want to be successful.”… Do you? Is passion the magic formula for success?
I know plenty of people who are, and have been, very passionate about what they do and aren’t successful. I also know many individual who are not passionate, at all, about what they do and are extremely successful. Having passion for a business without a sustainable financial model doesn’t miraculously change the economics of it. If we are using business metrics to measure “success” it is pretty black and white (or should I say black and red). It comes down to one thing and that’s money, it either makes it or it doesn’t! And if a business is making money the next two measuring sticks are 1) profitability and 2) how much effort is required for that profitability? One could argue that passion has a very minimal correlation to success.
Our culture and society wants to have a tangible, preferably warm and fuzzy, thing to attribute to success. We want to identify one specific attribute that determines success or failure and we want it to be something anybody in the whole world can obtain so we feel like it’s possible for anyone to succeed. We hear all the time the same old recycled crap about the path to success; you need passion, persistence, to be a good communicator blah blah blah. While a large number of successful people claim to have these traits in common and attribute these to their success I would argue that it is purely in hindsight that they are trying give some concrete reason for their success. Passion, especially, is the one trait that everyone loves to identify because it just feels good to say and it provides this accessible and relatable concept that all people feel they can grasp.
“I too can be successful if I just have passion! Woo Hoo Now I just gotta find what I’m passionate about!”
I’m not picking on passion, I think passion is good because it can amplify the significance of success when the two do happen to coincide. If you love scarves, (I mean really love everything about them like how they look and feel, what they do for people, how they are made etc) and you have a scarf business that takes off and becomes an astronomical success the passion you have for scarves will amplify the significance of the success. But lets say you just wanna make a buck and you see a niche in the scarf market and create a scarf business that hits it big. Just because you weren’t passionate about scarves does the somehow disqualify your success?
The passionate person says “heck yes, I freaking love scarves and now the whole world is getting to enjoy them as much as I do!” The un-passionate (opportunist) says “sweet, I didn’t know jack about scarves and I made a bunch of money selling them.”
There was no difference in the outcome of the passionate and non-passionate person the only difference was their perception of the “feeling” of success.
So what is the point of this rant on passion you ask? That “purpose” should be our pursuit because without purpose passion will fade. This beautiful revelation came courtesy of a pastor I recently heard speak named Paul Chase who is an american missionary living with his family in the Philippines for the last 20+ years. When I heard him say this I instantly put it in the context of business (which is just how my brain is wired). It hit me like a ton of bricks and made perfect sense. If you don’t have a firm grasp of your purpose you will just run from “passion” to “passion” seeking fulfillment from business ideas/ventures that can’t possibly satisfy you.
Success and passion are not interdependent of each other. Passion can act as a motivator or building block for purpose but independently will not sustain you and, in my opinion, it is not a predictor of success.
I liken passion to wind in regards to starting a fire.
Starting a fire doesn’t require wind it just takes a spark of fire, but wind fans the flame and strengthens the fire.
In other words:
Creating a successful business venture doesn’t require passion but passion can strengthen the purpose.