“Follow Your Passion” is the most over-rated advice I have ever heard in my life. Why? – because passion is fleeting and could change with the blink of an eye. Now, in the world of business, a fleeting interest will not hold your ship afloat in the long-run, so I am going to share with you 5 reasons why you should NOT follow your passion and what you should do instead.
You see, contrary to most information on the holy internet, building a business is not some overnight success endeavour, which is what “following your passion” makes it seem like. Starting and building a successful business involves many long nights battling fear and self-doubt, constantly wondering if you’re crazy or naïve or unrealistic for doing what you’re doing.
Maybe it is crazy, or naïve or unrealistic but that doesn’t mean impossible. That being said, seeing the possibility amidst craziness requires something far stronger than passion.
But before we get in to the secret of successful businesses, let’s break down 5 important reasons why passion is not your BFF. (Just so you don’t think I’m a hater)
1. Passion is scared of commitment #BURN
Seriously. Passion is that fun, sexy, adrenaline-pumping boyfriend we’ve all had, but just wouldn’t settle. Oh well, good riddance. You can be passionate about something today and wonder, “what was I thinking” 6 months from now.
Passion is a temporary fantasy, interest, hobby – you name it. That’s why it has the power to hook us because the magic is in the excitement. It makes you feel alive; deeper laughs, timeless experiences and tattooed memories.
But it doesn’t last, especially if you have to make a living out of it. Think of all the different things or people or places that you’ve been passionate about at different stages in your life. Where are those passions now? Now, imagine you spend six months of your life building a business, investing your energy and money into your passion only to realise that you’re the only one in the relationship. This is not a sustainable business model.
2. Building a business does not equal passion
Let’s say you are passionate about surfing and you decide to listen to the typical “follow your passion” advice. This paints a picture of a sexy surfing instructor spending the whole day on the beach, riding waves, drinking coconut water and sun bathing with other awesome surfers – what a nice life.
Unfortunately for this person, this picture-perfect life will only be about 20% of her business. The other 80% will include marketing, accounting, sales, handling staff, dealing with customer service and a lot more.
Truth is, a lot of people focus on starting a business and then forget that they have to run the business – which is a rosy misconception caused by following your passion. If you want to enjoy your passion, then do it as a hobby or find a job in line with your interests, so that you don’t have to worry about all the other million responsibilities of running a business.
3. Passion is not innate, girl
The biggest misconception with “follow your passion” is that somehow, this passion was just born with you or that it’s waiting in a nice Tiffany box for you to find it. No, BossLady, passion is not pre-existing.
The truth is passion comes from your experience with something. You don’t just get passionate lying in bed (though sleeping is definitely a valid passion). Now, this could be an indirect experience like watching dance shows and then developing a passion for dancing. Either way, you came across something and then you liked it and then you cultivated it by re-exposing yourself to this thing. That’s how you get passionate about something.
This means that we can be passionate about anything that we cultivate. Let me give you an example: before I started my business, I didn’t know much about graphic design. Nonetheless, I started dabbling with some designs here and there, particularly for social media and blogging and for my clients. A few months in, I became a graphics-obsessed human. Not to say that I’m any good but I’ve now spent more money than I would like to admit on graphic packs and countless hours designing things that shouldn’t take up my time. You can say I’m passionate about graphic design now. Would I build a business around graphic design? – Heck No! I would rather just procrastinate with my current passion.
You get the gist…
4. How do you even “follow your passion?”
I don’t know about you but this statement confuses me because I’m mostly all over the place. I mean, as if we could only be passionate about one thing in life. That sounds pretty boring. At the moment, I am passionate about graphic design, my boyfriend, helping women, biting babies’ cheeks and chai tea lattes. Which one do I follow? If I really, really had to choose just one, it would probably be babies’ cheeks.
So, following your passion makes it seem like there’s one calling for you out there and you need to wed it immediately. Not I, said the fly! All this means for business is that you are losing out on some amazing opportunities Girlboss!
5. It’s not personal, it’s just business
Most times, I beg to differ with that saying (business is always personal) but in this context, it makes sense. This is a tough pill to swallow but the cold truth is that successful businesses are not about you or your passion.
Most billionaires started their businesses to make “quick cash.” They saw a market opportunity and went for it. Steve Jobs, for example, started Apple to make a quick 1K. He wasn’t the one building the computer, neither was he passionate about programming but here you are today, probably reading this blog post on one of “his” computers.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that you need to just remove yourself from the business equation and simply find quick cash opportunities. Not at all! What I am saying is focusing too much on your passion or your interests could blind you to what the world wants and needs from your abilities.
What should you do instead?
Okay, so now you know that excitement comes and goes, and that I can be a little bit of a Negative Nancy, what’s next? If you just can’t trust your passions – what should you do instead to build a successful and self-sustaining business?
Follow Your Purpose.
If your passion aligns with your purpose, then by all means, jump straight into building a business around that.
Why? – because purpose is a way of life. Purpose encompasses all the ingredients to fulfil you and to motivate you in the long-run, even through tedious running-a-business tasks.
Furthermore, purpose is a deeper and broader concept, which includes your legacy – the thing that you want people to remember you for. I don’t want to be remembered for loving chai lattes. I want to be remembered for changing women’s lives for the better. What do you want to be remembered for?
While there are many reasons why purpose AKA your WHY should be the main juice behind your business, the most important is the fact that your impact on the world is included in the equation, whereas passion is only self-sustaining. Once you build a business that’s driven by your purpose and the value that your business can bring to other people’s lives, the cash money will start chasing you and not the other way round.
Do you think that Oprah’s purpose was to start a talk show? No. Her purpose was to teach and inspire people, to give them hope that they could be more than they thought they could be. The fact that her message came through as a talk show could be attributed to many opportunities along the road. Now imagine where Oprah would be today if she followed whatever her passion was at the time, instead of her purpose.
Finding your Purpose is a never-ending cycle of self-discovery and self-creation. The truth is that it requires a lot of introspection and that’s daunting for a lot of people, which is why I put together a FREE Workbook to help you Find Your Purpose in life and build a strong business around it. Just click on the nice image below to download it 🙂
In the meantime, I’ll just be here cheering you on so that I can witness the amazing heights that your purpose-driven business will reach 🙂
Author: Araika Mkulo
Araika Mkulo is the mother and CEO of Safe Space Co… she lives and breathes for women’s empowerment. On paper, she is a Cognitive Psychologist but in the real world, she is a Coach-Fairy-God-Sister sent from the land of equal rights with the sole purpose of helping women transform their lives.
She does this through self-discovery, mindset and business coaching. Her mission is to transform you into your own coach so that you can slay this thing called life!
Find out more about Araika’s work at www.safespacetz.com