Being Passionate About What You’re Doing

People never cease to amaze me.

I was sitting down this morning having a coffee and a nice bacon and egg roll at one of my favourite cafes on my way to work and the lady at the table next to me was talking about her job to her morning coffee companion.

She said, “We need to get out to see <insert client name here> early next week, I think we can really help them.  I’m very passionate about helping them refinance this merger.”

I’m passionate about the concept of universal healthcare and delivering high-quality education to our children that sets them up for an outstanding future, but I have to say I never really thought anyone could be passionate about refinancing a merger.  Borrowing constructs for M&A deals just don’t strike me as an issue that someone could get fired up about to that level.

And the funny thing was, I reckon she totally was.  I’m not sure what element had her so excited; maybe it was the thrill of the deal or perhaps she was getting a massive fee, but either way, I believed she was totally into it.

So why do I bring this up?  Well, it’s not to share with you my penchant for quietly listening into the conversations of those around me – you may recall I outed Linda as being a dominatrix about two weeks ago having overheard this morsel on the bus.

No, I share this because I could just sense that this woman was really, genuinely passionate about refinancing this merger – I feel like I should laugh just writing it, but I’ll be professional and hold it together.

In online circles, you don’t see that genuine level of passion very often.  You see an absolute fuckton* of what I would call, “faux passion” from people on Facebook or wherever they’re trying to sell themselves.  These folks exude pretend excitement for everything they do like they are grabbing the world by its fragile testicles without warming their hands first!

You know the people I’m talking about.  They just found a nickel on the side of the road, time to take a selfie and hashtag that mofo – #fivecentscloser.

Everything with these fake people is used to show how amazing they are, how much awesome stuff is happening to them and just how damn excited and passionate they are about every meaningless little that happens in their general vicinity.

I seriously have no idea how they do it.  I get tired just watching them post stuff on Facebook about their unbelievable existence – #soblessed.

I like what I do.  In some respects I suppose I feel a bit lucky – I was born at the right time and right place where I don’t have to worry about being clubbed to death by another primitive human trying to steal my mate or I wasn’t coming into adulthood during one of the World Wars.

But I also work pretty hard.  Everything I have, I earned.  When people ask me about where I got a couple thousand people on an email list, I tell them I hustled and delivered value to earn that list.  Or when someone comments about what a cool job I have, I know that it comes from twenty years of busting my backside to be really good at what I do.

Passion though is a really interesting word and to be fair, I think it is incredibly overused by the “wantrepreneur at all costs” crowd.

You see people giving the advice all the time telling people to “follow their passion and the money will come.”  I have a long history of calling BS on that merry-go-round of stupid.

It’s just not true.

In fact, I’d say that it can actually really hurt you.  Let’s go back to my breakfast neighbour this morning, her passion for refinancing that merger may work against her.  Financing a significant deal is risky business, you need to have a level of clinical resolve about you to focus purely on making the numbers work.  If you get deal fever because you’re “passionate” then you’re one step away from making a very expensive bad decision.

This happens all the time in the online world.  People decide to “go all in” on their passion project of offering life coaching and speech therapy to cross-eyed leprechauns who have a stutter.  They roll the dice and come up with nothing because that’s a stupid idea no matter how much they want it to be otherwise, it’s so stupid they don’t even roll snake eyes.

Before you embark on a business idea or project, you need to put your passion to one side and engage your brain.  Take Casual Marketer as an example – I like writing these daily emails, I enjoy putting together the newsletters and I enjoy getting paid by people to do those things.  I’m very motivated to work on this, I really like doing it, but I don’t have a burning passion for it.

This has really helped me because I’ve been able to be clinical about what I’m doing.  I think passion is a double edged sword.  It drives you for sure, but when things don’t go your way it can lead to much deeper levels of disappointment than would normally be the case.  I always knew that this project would take time and that success would come slowly.  If I was blinded by passion, I may have already given up because my uncontrolled expectations would have gone unfulfilled.

Here’s a simple truth, I think being successful takes way more than just being passionate about something.  Being passionate is lazy because your early motivation comes cheaply and easily.  Once you get past that initial buzz that you’re doing something you love and you realise you’ve got a long road ahead of you, you need something to get you through the trough of disillusionment.

I think the answer is, if you do want to pursue your passion, then you need to find a way of getting perspective.  Family are terrible for this because they’re either hopium dealers or crabs trying to drag you back down into the bucket.  Consider finding yourself a coach or a mentor that is willing to be the devil’s advocate for you – you want a person that will reign you in when you wander off down crazy street or help lift you out of a hole when you fall into one.

The key is striving to maintain some semblance of balance.  Your passion is like rocket fuel, when it is used in a controlled manner it can create an incredible amount of thrust, but when it isn’t controlled, stuff blows up.

* – A fuckton is an informal metric unit of measurement that equals a bloody lot of something.  I know my American friends struggle with Metric, so I thought I’d do you a solid and explain it.  No need to thank me.

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