Why following your passion might not lead to success.

Following Passion

Following your Passion?


Many times since starting down the road of Internet Marketing, I have suspected that the promoters of the “follow your passion” theory of success and happiness in business and in life were leading people astray. Not necessarily in a fraudulent way, but certainly in a way that could cause people to ignore the realities of life.

I have tried not to fall into that trap myself, tried for an honest balance between Thoreau’s “lives of quiet desperation” and the exhortations of the most optimistic promoters of the “passion” story. When I redesigned this blog, I was tempted to include the word “passion” on the new static home page, but was uncomfortable with it.

“Following your passion” has become the latest success slogan since ” Law of Attraction”, both important but not the only ingredient in the recipe for success.

Is having a passion for what we do important? Absolutely yes, but it is neither the only thing nor always the most important. It is often born out of our experience in and success with a venture. Not all successful people are wildly passionate about what they do. Others are passionate about an area of their lives that has little or nothing to do with making money.

My personal experience has been that interest in an endeavour has come before passion, then enjoyment, then sometimes, but not always, passion. Some areas where I have enjoyed a level of success have never ignited more than enjoyment. Others have only got me to a neutral state, neither enjoying or disliking what I was doing but still being successful. Most of the activities I have been fired up about in my lifetime, running, equine sports, politics or exposing the curse of political correctness, have not involved making money.

Some of my most successful money-making ventures have not been consistently enjoyable, some even frightening at times.

Are all successful people doing what they are passionate about? Or are they passionate about doing well at what ever they do?

Roy Williams in his Monday Morning memo gives a much better explanation than I could why “Following your passion” is a myth. Like all of his Monday Morning memos, it is worth reading.

Roy’s memo suggests that successful people are passionate about whatever they do, that’s why they are successful.

It is reasonable to expect that most people will achieve more success in an endeavour which they enjoy than in one they hate. Most of us go through life somewhere between the two. The key is to accept that at times, some of the things we have to do to earn enough to live, might not ignite our passion. But if we view them as steps on the road to success and do them as well as we can, we will find they lead to opportunities more in line with our real desires and perhaps become passions.

As with most popular trends on the Internet, “Following your passion” needs to be tempered with a dose of reality.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Peter Wright




Image courtesy of ntowe / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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  3 comments for “Why following your passion might not lead to success.

  1. Hadass Eviatar
    October 22, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Hm. Interesting. I’m thinking that maybe the real issue here is not how the person feels about what they are doing, but whether they have a tribe that is passionate about what they are doing. If you can serve a group of people who share your passion, you will be successful. All these stories about successful micro-niches (writing reviews for a certain type of gi … I’m asking you, does it get more micro than that) have to do with the passion, not of the entrepreneur, but of the tribe.

  2. Roberta
    October 24, 2013 at 7:16 am

    I think both you and Roy Williams are correct. Do what YOU like and that gives you joy is my mantra. ‘Follow your bliss’ is a great sound bite, which is why the media uses it. But it is not a profound or excellent philosophy of life.

    Thanks for the introduction to Roy Williams and the Monday Morning Memo. 🙂

  3. October 31, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Thank you Hadass and Roberta for good comments which add to the discussion for the benefit of other readers.

    Roy Williams publishes good stuff in his Monday Morning Memo, I have been subscribing for a few years now and he always survives my 6 weekly inbox “purges”.

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