Is Passion Enough for your Business Success?
Does knowing what you care about help you through your entrepreneurial journey?
I think passion is an over-used word. Passion is associated with the fairy-tale stories of other people’s glamorous lives and their successful businesses. People attribute their success to their deep sense of passion and they make it all seem like a carefree adventure. So I asked myself, is passion enough for an entrepreneur to succeed?
I hear stories of what others have accomplished and their success seems far removed from where I am standing. How can they be so far along the journey while I am struggling? I care about what I am working on! What am I doing wrong? If only I had enough passion, maybe I would succeed too!
Ekaterina Walter defines passion as “what turns an entrepreneur into a successful leader. If passion drives you, you won’t give up, no matter how long the journey!”
“If passion drives you, you won’t give up, no matter how long the journey!”
I know that my passion grows when I see the lightbulb go on in the minds of my students. When they start to apply the knowledge and develop the skills to succeed. I love to see the lives of young women change as they are empowered towards independence. As a social entrepreneur I care enough about African youth and women that I committed my strength, knowledge and understanding to help them grow.
But is my passion enough to bring me success? Is passion all I need to succeed, in life and in business?
Passion is related to commitment and my commitment was severely tested during the 7 years when I worked in post-conflict West Africa. I often felt alone and misunderstood because I was torn between my passion and purpose, and the expectations of my family and friends. I had a solid plan and clear milestones that outlined the pathway for me, but on the bad days it felt like I would never overcome the many obstacles.
I faced this sense of failure and the overwhelm of business activities far too often particularly when my life and business were disrupted by the Ebola crisis. On reflection, I realize that passion was the key to my survival. Every time I wanted to throw in the towel and walk away, I remembered the buzz that came when a learner’s life changed. My resilience rose and I determined to persist.
I drew energy from remembering the young women who now had a livelihood due to my training and that kept me going. In the midst of all the challenges, fears and concerns, it was my commitment to the bigger purpose that drove me. Passion enabled me to persist and to keep my dream alive.
Personally I learned an important lesson. Without passion and purpose, the quality of my work suffered, personal strength and determination failed, and my dreams faded into the distance. Passion is critical not only at the start but also to maintain and sustain the dream – no matter what the goal.
I am sure many of you can empathize! You work hard but it feels as though you are not making progress and that no-one understands or appreciates all your effort.
The contradiction to all that I just said, is that passion needs to be balanced with logic. When my life and my business were at risk due to the Ebola crisis, I had to weigh up my choices. I was passionate enough to persist and pursue my goals, but at the same time I had to realise that the people I wanted to help were no longer focused on my trainings. They were literally fighting for their health and life. I had to ask myself; “Should I leave or should I stay?” And passion alone couldn’t answer that question.
As you face the difficult questions and challenges of doing business, you will have days when you see your goals disappearing and the sense of possible failure rising.
It is exactly on those days that you need to understand and feel your passion. Fully understanding what truly matters to you can help you get through the bad days. Add thought and logic to the mix and you will get even clearer answers.
- Why did I start out on this journey?
- What problem am I trying to solve?
- Who am I trying to help?
- What might happen if I don’t keep trying?
- What is my ultimate goal, my big dream?
- How will I feel when the goal/dream is accomplished?
When you can answer these questions, you can reconnect with the passion that drives you. You can also understand the obstacles around you and assess whether you should persist or not.
Will passion be enough to keep you on track? Passion is a great starting point but it will only keep you on track if you also have a map and know where the track is!
Is passion enough? No!
Is passion essential? Yes!
Without passion all the hard work may be pointless because you might give up too soon. On the other hand, without a logical, solid plan, passion can keep you excitedly spinning wheels without getting any traction. I believe you need a solid business concept and passion.
Passion is the essential ingredient that makes the difference between mediocre and amazing. As Naomi Simpson the Australian entrepreneur describes it, “Passion is the fuel that gives the energy to pursue your dreams.”
“Passion is the fuel that gives the energy to pursue your dreams.”
Truthfully, you need a thick skin to walk your own path and be a successful entrepreneur, as not everyone will understand your drive and purpose. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted!
The first step towards a successful life or business is to understand your passion; to know what matters to you. From that point you can clarify your business idea and start to develop a sound strategic plan. Passion can only take you so far, but you won’t get far without it!
I’m curious to know what you think. Have you made a successful life based on passion alone? Do you think passion is enough for a successful business?
PS: I’m also preparing some online materials to help you to start to generate and clarify your business idea. (More on that later). In the meantime, if you want to know more about how to define your passion (what matters to you), read this blog post.