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When I was younger, I saw a motivational speaker give a very compelling speech. The theme was following your passion. He explained that we all need to follow that fire inside us to be successful. He said the only way to become who you are destined to become is to do this.
He argued that you can’t do it any other way. His speech motivated me, but it felt misguided. I was in the process of following my passion to build my first business. The business was growing, but it didn’t feel the way he said it would.
One of the reasons I tell eager entrepreneurs to avoid getting caught in the “follow your passion” mindset is because it is misleading. If you follow your passion to start a business, that happy sunset walk is more like firewalking without any idea how to do it. You will likely get severely burned.
Some people still push forward and experience tremendous success. But for most, it sours the initial passion. Instead of extreme success, we fumble through punishing struggle.
It was around that time that I started to explore other opportunities. I noticed that my passion to start a business didn’t translate into customers. My passion didn’t mean others were passionate to pay me to do it. I saw others starting boring businesses, yet experiencing tremendous success. They had some insight into a new technology or were willing to solve a common problem that nobody else wanted to solve.
I realized that the notion of following your passion to immediate and sustainable success is flawed. We shouldn’t go in expecting a sudden flash of success because we found our passion. We must find a way to take that passion and turn it into something valuable to others.
But that doesn’t mean that passion is bad. In fact, having passion is incredibly valuable if you have the right expectations.
Here are 4 reasons why following your passion leads to success.
1. If you have an interest, others might as well.
Being passionate about something that others gravitate to can help create a new value. You will be able to see things from an insider’s perspective.
If this leads to a better understanding of how to build out that value, it will give you a remarkable advantage. You can use your passion to design a solution for others who also have that desire.
2. Don’t box in your passion.
If you love art, don’t assume the only way to follow your passion is to set up an art studio and start painting.
My first business was an audio engineering company. I loved music but didn’t have the talent to make a career from it. But I found that my curiosity towards technology combined with my enjoyment of music created the right structure for me to branch off to audio engineering.
Letting yourself use your passion to find a way to create value from that passion is helpful. You can find ways to be around your passion, letting the motivation and interest fuel a new endeavor.
3. If you are passionate about something, you will be able to sustain it through difficult times.
Passion is misleading when we think it will instantly create fortune and fame.
But passion helps with a realistic timeline. Being passionate translates to being able to stick with it longer than others. When others give up because the road to success is too long and bumpy, you will persevere.
That perseverance is necessary for almost every new business. You need to struggle through the beginning. As you do, you can gain the insights to avoid your early mistakes. You can cultivate the customer base by delivering years of great service. You gain the confidence that your idea works.
4. Passion gets you to do the things necessary to grow and improve.
Instead of going through the motions in life, you will push on and work harder to solve problems.
You will learn what it really takes to be successful. You won’t give up at the first sign of struggle.
As you take those necessary steps, you will transform. That transformation cannot be underestimated.
After I built a growing audio engineering company, I realized that my real passion was using what I learned to help others build business systems to succeed. Since then, I have worked in various capacities to help growing small businesses create and improve the systems running the business.
The only reason this was possible was because I leaped early on to follow my passion. I learned what it takes and learned what I really loved about what I was doing. While most put off following their passion because they don’t understand how doing so will lead to sudden success, jumping in and learning as you go will give you new roads to travel.
I was listening to a podcast the other day and the speaker mentioned that he prefers to fall forward, not fall back on things in life. His point was to charge forward without worrying about backup plans. I love this idea of falling forward. Everyone will stumble. Everyone fails from time to time. If we can fail but have that lead to something better, instead of going backward, we can grow.
Following your passion puts you in a position to be able to fall forward. It moves you into a new world, one that will teach you valuable lessons. It will help you maintain the energy needed to keep going. It will give you ways to use your interests to create new value in the market for others.
If you don’t have unrealistic expectations of success, following your passion is a great way to navigate your work and the long journey to success. It can give you the extra energy you need to have a competitive advantage.