The Passion Conundrum
Follow your passion.
Do what feels good and you’ll succeed.
Let your dreams be your guide and you’ll find your purpose.
You’ve heard it all before and it feels like great advice. What’s not to love? Living a life that reflects your passion and then turning that passion into profits—that’s perfect, right?
Except that it’s not. It’s bad advice. At the very least, it’s incomplete, especially for an entrepreneur. There are many reasons why and here’s the biggest one: passions come and go; they never stay the same.
Here’s the truth: passion is unpredictable. Passion is erratic, random, fickle.
You get caught up in it, in the moment, and it lights up your whole life. But often, over time, that fire fades. And then you get caught up in a new passion. Rinse and repeat. This isn’t a bad thing if you know what’s going on: your passion will not stand still. Your passion will grow and then diminish and grow again. Sometimes it will disappear. Feeling passionate about many different things, concepts, and ideas as you move through your life and business—that’s not a curse; it’s a gift.
The Utopian Purpose
What’s our purpose? Why are we here? These would be tough questions to answer if we were trying to find a purpose for all of humanity. For example, if we were trying to answer existential questions such as, “Why do humans exist?”
But on a smaller scale, on an individual level—for me, for you—finding our purpose isn’t just possible, it’s imperative.
I want you to imagine paradise. A utopia. A perfect place. You can have everything here. Go ahead and picture it in your mind and feel it in your heart. Don’t be afraid to imagine the details. What would this place be like? Who are the people who live there? What are their values and beliefs? What are the choices they make?
How about you? What would you be like in your utopia? How would you like to show up there? Don’t try to rationalize. Don’t use your head but instead use your heart. Feel your way into your utopia; see it in your mind.
When you do, you’ll start to realize how much you love this place and how much you love your life in this place. Your utopia probably has no racial bias and no sexism. Everyone in your utopia is equal, everyone is loved. You might find yourself living fully, fearlessly. You might find yourself loving bravely. You might find yourself creating value for others.
Got that picture in your mind? Feel that in your heart? Guess what? That right there—that’s your purpose. Your purpose is to create that utopia, the world you want to live in. Your purpose is to live your way into the truest, most alive version of yourself.
The Matrix of Practicality
Passion is your fuel.
Purpose is your destination.
Practicality is the map of the road.
When most entrepreneurs talk about their business, practicality rarely enters the conversation. This is a problem and it’s a big one. Passion and purpose are important but practicality is the element that creates profits and prosperity.
Practicality allows you to support people.
Practicality builds systems and processes.
Practicality organizes and sparks growth.
When you create practicality in your business and when you adopt a practical mind-set, you’ll clearly see the actions you need to take to hit your goals. Without practicality, no amount of passion is enough to carry you through to success as an entrepreneur. Without practicality, your purpose will remain out of reach because you will be unable to create what you are meant to create.
In an ideal world, all entrepreneurs would value practicality as much as passion and purpose, but that’s not how it often goes down. Most businesses start with a ton of passion and purpose. It’s pure grit. Hustle. Drive. Intention. Personal power. It’s the nitro boost you see in those Fast and Furious movies. It gives you a big push. That big thrust that you need to get started.
Yes, we need people who want to change the world, but we don’t need the burden of your destroyed life to get there. What the world needs is your positive energy and a great example of success for the next generation. What the world needs is more joy and fulfillment for you and for all of us. You see, building something incredible, creating something special, and bringing your genius out into the world doesn’t have to rise from the grave of your soul, your health, your joy, and your relationships.
It must be fueled by your soul, your health, your joy, and your relationships.
This Is How You Die
Most of us understand what’s right for us when it comes to starting and running a successful business. But then we start looking for confirmation. We adopt a different approach because someone—usually someone who seems to be more successful—tells us what to do and how to do it. This compels us to try and “get it right.” So, we look outside ourselves for validation. We go against our instincts.
When this happens, doubt creeps in. Doubt about abilities and skills. Doubt about what we should do. Doubt about the outcome.
Doubt is where your business goes to die.
Crush doubt. Kill it. It’s the best thing you can ever do for yourself.
It’s the best thing you can do for the world.
“No, I don’t want to invest in your company.”
“No, this product is not for me.”
“No, I don’t have the money for this service.”
“No, we don’t think it’s a good business model.”
No. That stab of rejection and dejection we feel every single time we hear it. The word that makes us want to quit. The two-letter troublemaker, which early on in business feels like the end of everything. The big scary statement that seems to be about us and how we don’t measure up. The word we dread. The word we hate. The word we never want to hear.
don’t want your product and service. You are looking for the ones who do want your products and services. When you look for team members, you are not looking for people who are not passionately interested in what you are trying to create in the world with your business; you are looking for the ones who are passionately interested.
You are always in the market of one. One conversation. One conversion. One sale.
These “ones” add up over time. These ones become two and three. A hundred. A thousand. Millions. A billion.
It begins with one, followed by another one.
This is an incredibly powerful idea because when you are in the market of one, you get to protect yourself from the destructive force of hearing “no.” You won’t feel the rejection and disappointment. No will bother you less and less, even when it comes in big numbers, because you are now focused on looking for the yes.
People and Their Problems
Maslow’s 1943 paper, “A Theory of Human Motivation,” suggests that we follow a hierarchy of needs. You probably remember some of this from high school. First, we fulfill our basic human needs, like food, shelter, and safety. Then we look at how we can satisfy our need for belonging, friendship, love, and connection. As those needs are fulfilled, we then start to look at what we can do to fuel our self-esteem, which is essentially our need to feel that we matter and that our lives have purpose. Finally, we have the need for self-actualization. This is our need to feel like we are hitting our highest potential. This is often also understood as the need for growth and contribution.
Our past defines how we understand these needs. What does love mean for us? What does connection mean for us? How does it differ based on our experiences in life? Circumstances and events that happen in each of our lives create a different understanding of each of these needs.
If we can understand the internal stories of the people around us and our team members—their experiences of their own past and their aspirations for their future—we will instantly see what those different needs mean for each of them, as individuals. What makes them feel loved? What makes them feel safe? What makes them feel they have a purpose in life and that their lives have meaning?
As we develop these insights about people, we gain a deep understanding about how they view problems. This powerful knowledge will help us navigate through every problem that comes at us in business and turn each one into an opportunity.
An opportunity to grow and to learn and to overcome.
Value. Value. Value. Value. Value
If you give away value without expecting anything in return, and you’re continuously doing this and creating results for your clients, you will reap the rewards over time. Guaranteed. These rewards include loyal, lifelong fans, recognition of your expertise and genius, maybe even worldwide fame, and, yes, money. A lot of it.
So, it goes like this:
Value, value, value, value, value → Trust
And with trust comes an amazing depth of emotion that creates an unbreakable bond.
It’s a connection that will make your customers smile when they think of your company and your services. It’s a feeling of knowing they’re in good hands when they come to you for solutions. This is how you create an ultra-successful business that matters. A business that continues to grow and expand. A business that continues to bring in more and more income.
It all starts with giving value away for free. And it works. Every time.