When Passion Is Misunderstood

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 08: Businessman and TV personality Mark Cuban speaks onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt at Pier 48 on September 8, 2014 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch) *** Local Caption *** Mark Cuban
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – SEPTEMBER 08: Businessman and TV personality Mark Cuban speaks onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt at Pier 48 on September 8, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch) *** Local Caption *** Mark Cuban

I’ve heard too many people malign passion as almost an evil – “don’t follow your passion,” they say, in some bizarre otherworldly sense of helping people. But you should have passion. I’m not the only one who thinks so. Billionaires agree.

An Entire Series
The first time I became frustrated with this mantra to never follow your passion was when Mike Rowe thought it best to follow the demand regardless of what excited you. I thought he missed the truth that passion is necessary, but just as necessary as two other essential ingredients to success.

The second time, I saw someone posting a quote that said basically the same thing. It frustrated and unnerved me to the point I decided to create a series on the topic, starting with how important passion is.

But before you think that I might be missing the boat, I’d like to point out that I am not alone. I am in good company. People like billionaire Sir Richard Branson agree saying, “Don’t waste your time doing things that don’t excite you. Find your passions and go out there and grab them with both hands.” Other’s like Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, felt similarly, and there are many more like them.

But perhaps it’s because of something else: a misunderstanding of what passion is. I think Mark Cuban highlights that well.

Avoiding Being Pigeonholed
Mark Cuban, outspoken billionaire and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, knew that passion is not enough to move forward. There is a lot of hard work involved. What’s more, sometimes you have to figure out how to tailor your passions to what is available. After all, everyone can’t be an A-List movie star. But if you love acting, that doesn’t mean that has to be the path for you.

You simply have to be creative to find out how to spend your life doing what you’re passionate about. There are acting jobs in a wide variety of locations and careers such as in independent films, corporate films, kids shows, commercials, teaching, and much, much more.

Mark Cuban on Passion
Mark Cuban understands this. In his book How to Win at the Sport of Business he said very clearly that passion provides the fuel to do the hard work that it takes to succeed. That includes not only doing the work, but also knowing where your passions truly fit with what you want to do. It’s also about being creative in the way to apply your passions. As he says:

I know you want to follow your passions and get a job in sports, movies, tv, shooting video for Girls Gone Wild, and other things your friends would love. Why fight the crowds? Go where people are not. Just like you never thought you would ever fall in love with someone else, you will find another industry or job that you will love as much as your first love.  Move down your list to other things. Then get ready to work.

In this kind of economy, it really is a numbers game. You are going to have to keep on applying for everything and anything that opens a door you want to walk through.  You can never slow down. Its hard work finding a job.  If you have bills you have to pay, and it means taking a night job in order to keep looking for the day job or to keep a job you want, do it.   Be a waiter, a night janitor, wash clothes, sell vacuum cleaners door to door,  whatever you need to do, all the while reminding yourself that it opens the door for your future.

Obviously Mark Cuban does not see this as an end – a job as a waiter or a janitor – both jobs that have almost no room for career advancement. But he does see those jobs as something to do to find the right way to employ your passion when the door opens.

Mark Cuban gets it, and I think this highlights the real problem people have when they say “don’t follow your passion.” They think passion is just some fly-by-night feel goodery that gives people an excuse to be lazy while they wait for the sky to open up and sit on a couch playing video games all day. It actually is the opposite, something we will talk about in the next post.

What Passion Is and Why It’s Important
Instead, passion is much, much different. It’s the fuel you need to pursue your dreams and hold onto them with an unyielding grip while people tug away at them. It’s the fire to work as a janitor and waiter and sell vacuum cleaners door to door because you know your dreams are too important to die. It’s the strength and force of will to say “wrong!” when someone tells you that your dreams are never going to happen. It’s that star you keep pointing toward that you are determined to get to no matter how long or hard the path is. It is the thing you pursue with every fiber of your being because you know it’s where you belong.

And that’s why it’s important. It’s that drive, that fire, that fuel that keep you going on the dark nights, the shattered mornings, and the painful storms that scream for you to give up hope. It’s the fuel that says “This is important! This is not a choice! This is who I am!” It’s the strength to go on when the motivation is all dried up. It’s the fuel to press you on. People that tell you not to follow your passion are working to steal your fuel and lead you down a path that is lonely and cold and full of disappointment. If you are truly passionate about something, you can’t let them take it.

Hold on to passion. Use it. Do whatever you can to keep the fires burning. And whenever anyone tells you to give up and not follow the all consuming desire in your heart, just put your headphones in, blast the music, and keep pressing on.

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About the author

David is a father, speaker, blogger (obviously), and author of How to Create Amazing Presentations sharing the tools, tips, and techniques of the experts to make you an amazing presenter, 7 Steps to Better Relationships built on the stories and lessons on this blog with seven easy steps to help you maximize your interactions with the people you care about most, and The Man in the Pit to help you care for loved ones struggling with depression.

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