Debunking the Passion Myth

The idea of "following your passion" is a familiar mantra in many career and business advice circles.

On the surface, it seems logical:

Immerse yourself in what you love, and success will surely follow.

However, as every entrepreneur knows, the path to success is rarely that linear or predictable.

So, is this popular advice really the best guide?

Rethinking passion

In his pivotal work So Good They Can't Ignore You, Cal Newport challenges the typical “follow your passion” advice.

Instead of beginning with passion, Newport suggests that finding your passion is often cultivated through skill development.

This concept turns conventional wisdom on its head:

Rather than trying to uncover your passion first and then hoping success will come, Newport suggests focusing on skill acquisition.

As your proficiency in a subject/task grows and you can become truly excellent at something valuable, passion in that domain often develops.

A way I like to think about this is simply, follow your curiosity.

It seems that by leading with curiosity, you’ll be more likely to stick with something long enough to develop valuable skills, and to have your passion flourish.

“Follow your curiosity,” also seems a lot more realistic and practical than, “follow your passion.”

For entrepreneurs, this can be very helpful to understand.

Many business ventures are started out of necessity, opportunity, or even mere chance, not necessarily passion.

However, as entrepreneurs delve deeper in solving customer problems, hone their skills, and excel in their domain, passion can bloom.

Practice it today

Spend 5 minutes exploring a topic of interest

By focusing on mastery of a chosen skill, you are on a path to uncover passion in an organic and deeply rooted manner.

This perspective shift from seeking passion first to building skills robustly can bring clarity, satisfaction, and a renewed vigor to your entrepreneurial endeavours.

Skill Identification: What's one skill that, if improved, could greatly benefit your business or personal growth? This doesn't have to be a grand, complicated skill; sometimes, the most fundamental skills offer the most profound results.

Note: This is important from a business strategy standpoint.

When creating a product/service that solves a specific problem, it’s easy for entrepreneurs to focus on a single element for validating their business idea: The desirability of their offering. Basically, “do people want and/or need this?”

However, you must also consider the feasibility of your idea. Can you realistically deliver this value proposition to your customers? Do you have the internal capacities and capabilities? Do you and your team have the skills and necessary means to deliver it?

Commit to Daily Improvement: Dedicate time to working on this chosen skill. Whether it's reading, direct practice, or taking a mini online course, daily engagement can lead to rapid improvement.

Document Progress: Every week, spend a few minutes documenting what you've learned or how you've grown in this skill area. Observing progress can be incredibly motivating and might even fan the flames of burgeoning passion.

Seek Feedback: Share your progress with a trusted colleague, mentor, or community. Their insights and feedback can provide new perspectives and further fuel your growth.

Reflect on the Journey: At the end of the month, reflect on your journey with this skill. Has your perspective on it changed? Do you feel more engaged or passionate about this area?

Checking in

How do you think focusing on developing a specific skill would change your entrepreneurial journey?

Can you recall a past experience where mastery in a particular area led to increased passion or interest?

What barriers or challenges might you anticipate as you work to enhance your chosen skill, and how might you overcome them?

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