What could be more fulfilling than following your passion business, so you never feel that you are working? And if you pursue what you feel passionate about, riches will come automatically, right?
‘Follow your passion’ does indeed sound fabulous. And perhaps you have been to one of those motivation seminars where successful entrepreneurs passionately declare how doing what they love made them a fortune?
Next, the crowd chimes in, and participants rejoice in the passion-infused high. Two weeks later, you meet some of the same folks at the next motivation seminar because the excitement has worn out, and the passion needs refuel.
Why Following Your Passion Business Advice has so much Allure
Passion is like love. We find it hard to resist its spell. Just like we rave about Romeo and Juliet and forget that they behave at best naive, passion rings with the promise of meaning and salvation.
Ken Robinson’s 2009 book ‘The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything’ nicely sums up this take on ‘finding your passion’ as THE transformative experience in life.
Now, let’s take note that ‘finding your passion’ obviously precedes ‘following your passion.’
And while finding your passion implies that you truly discover your personality and understand your authentic self, following your passion denotes flow and a blissful path of least resistance. Wow, what’s not to like? I’m in.
What Do We Mean with Passion?
Before we get to question the usefulness of the ‘follow your passion business’ stance, understanding the origin of the word passion may give helpful pointers.
The etymology of passion goes back to 1200, the old Old French passion “Christ’s passion, physical suffering” and 1000 from Late Latin passionem’ suffering, enduring,’ The notion here is ‘that which must be endured.’
Only later, by 1630, the word adjusted its meaning in Middle English to ‘strong liking, enthusiasm, predilection,’ and by 1732, passion is recorded to mean an ‘object of great admiration or desire.’
I find it remarkable that there is no sense of agency in the original meaning of passion. Instead, passion is submission and perhaps acceptance, but not a free choice and positive action.
Even if this understanding is now outdated, I can’t help thinking that it still resonates in the way people at times talk about their passion.
Passion is Convincing, But from Where Does it Come?
Passion is contagious. Every sales professional knows how convincing excitement and belief can be when closing a sale. Positivity draws us in.
Public speaking expert Carmine Gallo singles out passion as the foundation of a persuasive and successful presentation. In his highly-rated book ‘Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds’ he titles the chapter on passion ‘Unleash the Master Within.’
So by the same token as Ken Robinson’s ‘Element,’ if you are fully aligned with what you enjoy doing, you will make a powerful impact.
That’s all great, but what if you are not sure about your passion? And doesn’t any work or business also include less enjoyable activities?
Now, we can easily be carried away by the enthusiasm of the follow your passion business argument. But let’s remember this: We have to run a business and work today. Right after reading this article, there is the next move that you will take in the direction of success.
Will it be imbued with the flames of passion?
Why You Should Handle Your Passion with Care
Nobody is trying to be a fun killer here. Feeling passionate about what you do is excellent.
But enthusiastically following what people believed to be their calling has led too many down the wrong path because they assumed too much risk in the name of passion.
It is wise to remember that most small businesses fail and that the vast majority of the workforce does not enjoy their current job.
With that in mind, here are six passion-probing questions to separate romanticism from functional business:
1. Passion versus Business Planning
Imagine you go to a bank to ask for a loan for your new start-up. Further, imagine two different approaches: A) you have a fascinating idea and rave about how this is your dream passion. B) You have a detailed spreadsheet of your projected cash flow and working schedule. In which scenario is the banker more likely to sign off on your loan?
2. When Does Passion Turn into Delusion?
Three years into your eccentric jewelry business, you are struggling to pay the rent and finance a healthy diet. You still think of your product as outrageously cool, but nobody cares or is willing to exchange one of your trinkets for money. How much passion can you muster now? Doesn’t the level of your passion strongly correspond with your level of success? At what point does self-delusion start?
3. Success Determines Passion
Having little resistance and enjoying things is an indication that we are good at something. If we enjoy playing the guitar, reach the master level with the instrument, and make a good living from it, who wouldn’t be passionate bout it?
As such, passion is a useful gauge of talent. But are you being passionate about setting up servers, accounting, and writing up legal documents? Are you putting all your energy into allegedly not so exciting tasks as well?
4. Not What but How Counts
And to further that argument: How come that some very successful and wealthy people are depressed and feel miserable in their lives? And that some folks in simple and moderately paid professions appear to fully enjoy what they are doing? Could it be that the key is not what you are doing, but your attitude and energy applied to your actions?
5. Passion is the Story to which Everone Can Relate
What do all those people on TED talks and renowned proclaimers of passion like Oprah or Richard Branson have in common? Yes, they are successful. You will hardly find someone who has failed in her business, telling you about her passion. Everyone can relate to passion.
Could it be that we talk of passion rather than talent, intelligence, hard work, connections, and luck because it is the desired norm to address entrepreneurial success?
6. Self-Exploration is Ongoing
Following your passing implies knowing yourself. In effect, self-exploration is a lifelong process that is never complete. So wouldn’t it make more sense to build successful and life-sustaining systems first? And then, once you financially prosper, embark on a quest to finding yourself?
Concluding Thoughts on Following Your Passion Business
To have a good life, we must first secure our livelihood. The key to wealth is a resilient system, ideally of passive income.
Finding or following your passion suggests an idealistic future state. In reality, it’s not what you do but how you do things in your life that will sustain an attitude of enthusiasm and passion.
Passion is a result of positive action. It’s not an elusive thing to blindly follow.
Indeed the most appropriate target for your daily life is to manage your energy level, so you have the drive to enjoy and achieve.