Written by Jamie Irvine | 3.5-minute read
The advice to “follow your passion” has never been more popular. Entrepreneurs especially espouse this nugget of wisdom and on the surface, it appears like excellent advice. I totally disagree!
Passion on the surface seems like the fuel, that every person, should use to propel them to new heights in their professional and personal lives.
Think about going to your job and the owner is passionate, the employees are passionate, and the customers are passionate. Doesn’t that sound like a dream!
Think about your home life, imagine if every family had parents that were passionate about their children, children were passionate about their futures, and everyone was passionately in love with one another. Doesn’t that sound like a dream!
Let’s take it global, imagine the world where governments were passionate about the economy, human rights, civil liberties, and the environment. Doesn’t that sound like a dream!
Dreams are something you have when you are asleep
If all those things sound like an incredible dream come true, an exquisite nirvana, the amazing culmination of all the lessons we humans have learned after centuries of self-destruction, a proverbial utopia where all humankind’s visions of the future and hopes have come true, then I would agree with you. It is a dream and dreams are something you have when you are asleep!
Now before you jump to the conclusion that I am cynic, that my view is full of negativity, that I am just a dream crusher, I beg you to keep reading. For my point is that passion is not the ONLY thing you need.
Passion is defined as “strong and barely controllable emotion.”
So when we go back to our three scenarios, at work, at home, and in our governments, do we really want “strong and barely controllable emotion” as the driving force behind our lives?
Passion sounds like a good idea until you put it into context. Suddenly other words spring to mind, like reasonableness, common sense, critical thinking, and strategic planning.
Now I understand that when people say “follow your passion” they are not meaning that we should fly off the handle, be out of control emotionally, and take action without thinking. They don’t mean to imply that, yet all too often, that is what people who are following their passion end up doing. They jump into things full of passion with no plan and ultimately they fail!
“Don’t jump into things full of passion with no plan and ultimately fail!” – Jamie Irvine
In order to do something truly great, you need to start with something and someone else in mind. It’s not you, your passion, and what you’re interested in that matters. You need to start with whom your work will impact in the most profound way.
By being intentional about doing something profound for them, regardless if you start out passionately, you will find your passion as you see the impact your work is having on those people and the good you do will have a lasting impact.
The lesson learned:
Passion may be the fuel but intention should be the vehicle by which you achieve your life’s work. If you are going to accomplish something truly great, being passionate shouldn’t come first, being intentional about helping others should come first.
Transcending the curve
Another reason why passion alone is not enough to ensure success is simply because of Sir Isaac Newton’s simple but very accurate statement “what goes up must come down”.
“What goes up must come down.” – Sir Isaac Newton
My view on this is that every person, every business, every endeavor follows a natural curve. The curve begins when a person, business, or idea is first conceived, in the womb or the mind, and then is born. From that point, the natural curve is to rise to a point and then to start falling until ultimately you reach the end, of your life, of your business, of your ideas.
Passion in itself may help you climb higher and achieve greater things, but will never cause you to escape the curve. “What goes up must come down” and so no matter how passionate you are about what you are doing today, it will come to an end at some point in the future.
In order to transcend the curve, you need more than just passion for creating something that has a lasting impact. If you want it to last passion is not enough!
When you start with what you are passionate about today you set yourself up for failure. Not only are you at risk of jumping into something without a plan but also what you are interested in, passionate about today, can and will change as time passes.
Again it all comes down to focusing on other people. By being intentional about helping other people in a profound way you ensure that at the very least what you are doing will transcend the curve of your own life and live on in those who you directly impact and hopefully that starts a chain reaction that impacts many future generations.
The lesson learned:
What you are passionate about today will change as time goes by but having a lasting impact on others lasts forever. You may find that by focusing on others you become passionate about things you have never even thought about or knew existed.
“Follow your passion” all though well meaning is just not good advice. It is focused on the wrong person. Don’t start with what you want, what you need, what you dream about!
Instead, take these four steps:
- Focus all your attention on the person or group of people you plan on having an impact on.
- Come up with something that has a real impact on those people, something they need and want, something that you can deliver.
- Develop a systematic approach to ensure that you can deliver the desired outcome to as many people as possible, a system that scales.
- Allow the impact you are having on others to be what you become passionate about.
At the end of your life you can look back on everything you have done, all the people you have had an impact on, and as you come to the end of your curve you can know that your work will transcend your own life and live on in the lives of others.
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