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“Follow your passion is the worst advice you could ever get. Because everyone is passionate about something. Usually more than one thing. We are born with it. There are always going to be things we love to do. That we dream about doing. That we really, really want to do with our lives. Those passions aren't worth a nickel.
Think about all the things you have been passionate about in your life. Think about all those passions that you considered making a career out of or building a company around. How many were or are there? Why did you bounce from one to another? Why were you not able to make a career or business out of any of those passions? Or if you have been able to have some success, what was the key to the success?
Today's twenty-somethings were raised to find our dreams and follow them. But it's a different world. And as the jobless generation grows up, we realize the grand betrayal of the false idols of passion. This philosophy no longer works for us, or at most, feels incomplete. So what do we do? I propose a different frame of reference: Forget about finding your passion. Instead, focus on finding big problems.”
I do love what I do, I'm totally passionate about helping small business owners create a profitable business that allows them the life they most want and that serves others. I believe that Mr. Cuban is passionate about his businesses, too – I've never heard him speak other than with passion – he just comes across as a passionate guy.
I do understand what he is saying, though. I've met plenty of business owners who say they are passionate but don't take action – and I always think to myself “how darn passionate could this person actually be?” Passionate doesn't cave to anxiety, depression, or overwhelm. Period. Sometimes I think small business owners confuse “passion” with “dream thinking.” Kind of a wishful “oh, I'd love to have a business that brings me good money.” But they have no discipline or focus behind that “passion.” Which means, as Cuban says, their passion won't bring them the success they say they want.
Mr. Cuban also has said, “Don't start a company unless it's an obsession and something you love. If you have an exit strategy, it's not an obsession.” Maybe he's right – we need to be obsessed about what we do, to be able to continually live in it, to always be learning about it, to take the missteps and turn them into high steps. Maybe instead of passion the better word is obsession. Obsession means you'll go do the work – the learning, the long hours, the risk taking.
I admire Mark Cuban. I'd love to have a dinner with him, just listen to him talk about business. I don't want his money, though. His conversation means more to me than his money – I'd rather him sharpen my ability to make my own. The next time someone talks to me about “I have to be passionate to work in my business” I'm going to be questioning if I believe that. Will you?
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