There’s an entire industry geared towards promoting the idea of following your passion. From self help books through to online affirmations, personal development courses and discovery retreats, we teeter in breathless anticipation of the next best guru to come along and tell us how work can make us happy.
And yet, following your passion is one dimensional. If you hold it up to the light of criticism and critique, you start noticing how thin the notion of passion chasing is.
The conference halls are littered with cheesy grins and rinsed out bank accounts that promise the chance to make it big following your dreams. Entire industries have been created around the passion junkies obtaining their next business pick-me-up fix. Personalities profit from selling you their success without giving you the tools you actually need to create your own.
Have your dream job, work the hours you want, sip on that cocktail on the sandy beach. Blah, blah, blah.
Everyone’s selling the idea of the good life while the good life remains a haze of buzz words, catch cries and convention centre coffees.
Following your passion is not enough to inspire a life
Passion is what you see on daytime dramas. The smouldering kisses, the stolen embrace, the forbidden fruit of unspoken desire and the magic of tension. The never ending search for happiness and that state of perfect bliss tinged with the essence of overtly strong emotional connections. We start to believe the myth, to crave it, to become disappointed when it isn’t our reality.
We’re meant to be in love, love life, dance like no one is watching and infringe on a multitude of Disney storybook copyrights as we carve out the ideal existence. We become part of the cult of perfect.
Or do we?
What does “having it all” really mean?
Who defined what the “all” was? Who plumbed the depth of humanity and came up with the idea that we have to tick off life as though it were a checklist?
When did it become fashionable to be afraid of moments where eating Milo with a spoon in your pyjamas was enough? Or where taking an Instagram of that action suddenly made it something worthwhile and cool?
Our days and ways are measured in lists- check lists, to do lists, bucket lists, top ten’s and ‘you won’t believe what happens next’ moments.
As we hunger for depth and for meaning, we wrap ourselves in so many rules and check boxes that even those who “have it all” always want the failing more.
Following your passion becomes sinister when you realise passion has no idea where you’re going either.
Reality check, aisle three
It’s exhausting to constantly create, invite and manifest enough drama and friction to burn with passion. The amount of perpetually reaching dizzying heights is enough to make the average person decidedly ill.
The whole world has forgotten one of the simplest life lessons. That there’s a delicate pleasantness found in taking a quiet moment and having a cup of tea. And not needing to broadcast it.
Besides the passionate life, the idea of the passionate career is purchased like Barbie needs her camper or Malibu dream house. Climb up that career ladder. Add that title to your shiny new business card. And don’t forget your cheerful plastic mask for every work occasion.
But passion in business is a fundamental failure. It’s failing to realise why such a concept is at the opposite end of what makes good business.
Your business isn’t about YOU and your ceaseless pursuit of joy in your incredibly passionate life.
It belongs to your customer. And they don’t want to get passionate with you. They merely want to walk away happy.
Your customers want a solution to a problem they face. That does not require you twirling like a demented Kewpie Doll at the centre of your brand, demanding attention.
Worse still, if their problem is dissatisfaction with life to the point of wanting to be someone else, how realistic do you think it is to offer yourself as the antidote?
Do you really want to be that responsible for another person’s happiness?
Leave the guru-babble to the men and women on the mountain.
In problem solved versus passion, problem solved wins every time
It does not matter if you are the most passionate, knowledgeable and excited person in the entire world. If you aren’t solving a problem for your customers, you are not in business.
There is a subtle yet essential difference between “I love music so I want to teach music” (passion orientated) and “an increasing amount of people are suffering from mental health and emotional issues, and musical expression can help people with these kinds of issues” (solution orientated).
Placed up against 100 other music teachers, if you love music and that’s why you teach it, you are just a music lover in a crowd. But if you offer a specific solution to a problem your customers have, you are no longer in the herd.
You stand out in the crowd.
Connect with a need as opposed to a passion. Solve a problem a customer has as opposed to placing your own needs at the centre of your business. Train yourself to focus on your customers questions instead of thinking you have all the answers all of the time. They will surprise you.
So why should you solve a problem instead of follow your passion?
Passion is attractive, but it is fleeting. What you give to others and how happy you make them through sharing lasts a lifetime. The idea of following your passion opens you up to abuse and misuse. It clouds the judgement of many a good person.
Take a look at yourself and your career. Are you running on passion or are you changing the landscape?