You’ve been bamboozled. You’ve been hoodwinked, mesmerized and bewitched. Everyone tells you to go after your passion. “Do what you love and you never have to work a day in your life,” they say. Sounds good, doesn’t it? It’s a lovely dream as you stare at the walls of your cubicle or the car bumper you follow on your daily commute.
Warning: if you know in your heart you’re never going to act on your dream to be an entrepreneur, stop reading now!
You may need a dream to hold on to. Hopes and dreams help you cope with a job you hate. So I don’t want to crush your dream if you’re going to just continue wish and dream.
But you need someone to tell you the truth if you’re serious about being an entrepreneur. The truth is this: passion is overrated. Following your passion isn’t always a good idea when you’re an entrepreneur. Here are two reasons why.
Remember the movie Hope Floats?. Yes, I watch chick flicks, sometimes. I still remember Harry Connick, Jr. talking about how the business of being an architect killed his love of doing the work of an architect. Here’s the quote: “You find something you love and you twist it and torture it and try to make money at it. And at the end, you can’t find a trace of what you started out loving.”
I found this out when I tried to be an auto mechanic. I grew up working on bicycles and then cars, when I started driving. I enjoyed the work. But I wasn’t fast at it. You have to be fast to be a successful mechanic. And I didn’t like the work once I had to do it.. I didn’t last long as a mechanic.
You don’t just get to do the fun stuff
Of course, you might be an exception. You might be able to keep loving what you do and make money at it as well. So you’re thinking, cool for me. I’ll follow my passion.
Not so fast. The second reason you’ll be disappointed as a passion-chasing entrepreneur is that you’ll have to do all sorts of other non-fun stuff to make your business go.
You have lots of grunt work when you run a business, especially a home-based business. You’ll probably detest some of it. But you end up doing it because it has to be done.
You soon discover the passion-filled days of doing what you love was only a pipe-dream. You only get to work in the sweet-spot of your passion part-time. And sometimes the stress of doing the grunt work spills over and tarnishes the joy you used to have in doing that thing you’re passionate about.
Follow your talent
People often comment to The Artist something along these lines: “You must enjoy being able to do artistic work all the time.” They’re usually surprised when she says, “I don’t love to paint.” She’s quick to explain that she was never passionate about faux finishes. She became a faux finisher because she discovered she had talent for it. And she’s worked hard to perfect her talent. But painting is work — grueling, muscle-cramping work. She doesn’t love doing the work.
Some passion leaks in
What The Artist loves is creating a space people love to live in. The design consultation, the planning, the dreaming, these things light her fire. And these things we do for free.
Also, she loves the reaction of our clients when they see their finished space, the result of our work. The planning and the client’s reaction fuel her passion. What lies between the two are days of a hard grind, and sore muscles.
The work that must be done
And don’t forget the grunt work: the bookkeeping, marketing, accounting, planning, and all of the other back-end work that goes along with running a business. All of these have to be done after the long days of painting.
So don’t believe the line about following your passion. It’s not true. You’re better off following your talent. Don’t get me wrong. Let your passion come along for the ride. Just don’t put passion in the driver’s seat.
The bullet points
- Judge your talents wisely: Don’t be like the American Idol contestants who never realize they can’t sing until the judges burst their bubble.
- Adapt your talents to your market: Narrow your focus to what you do best. Find people who will pay you for it.
- Hone your talents into excellence: Keep learning to do what you do even better.
- Allow your talents to touch your passion: Passion is fickle when it leads. But talent mixed with excellence will sprout passion.
Follow your talent
So the next time you encounter someone spouting that same old line about following your passion you will know better than to fall for it. I hope you’ll be so caught up in pursuing your talents that you can just knowingly smile and keep walking.
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