Is Passion Dead? Entrepreneurs Better Be Mining It.

David Wiener

As Rod Stewart sang in his popular song, Passion, we all need passion. As he says, “Even the president needs passion. Everybody I know needs some passion.”

If I could pinpoint the one thing that has fueled my life as an entrepreneur, it would be following my passion. This is an overused word that we talk a lot about, yet for many, it is a foreign concept. Perhaps our obsession with our electronic devices (e.g., phones, tablets, etc.) has somehow muted our real emotions, aspirations, and response.

Sharing every detail of our life – on a daily basis – can be exhausting and may leave little time to think about what really drives us. Or, maybe the economic wake of 2008 dampened things. Whatever the reason; it’s time to rekindle your passion.

The author’s passion for cars led to his working with Porsche and Ferrari

Following my true passion has been a tremendously powerful force because making a living from what I love to do invariably led me to put far more energy, effort, thought and follow-through into whatever I was working on. Sadly, most people never get the chance to follow their passion, for a variety of reasons, including: fear, time, lack of resources, lack of moral support, etc.

Push your passion and enjoy your work  – The author’s designs for Pirelli Porsche racing team

 My passion for cars started before I was 10. By 17, I’d worked enough odd jobs to buy a beat-up Porsche, which I then learned how to fix. This led to a career of designing and building Porsches and BMWs and then working with Ferrari and Porsche racing teams, building race engines, running show events and later, developing branding and sponsorship programs…a dream come true.

The same thing applied to my passion for music and guitar playing. Playing guitar in the 3rd grade led to a passion that later drove my work with audio, music and instrument manufacturers. And it even applied to my love of saltwater fly-fishing, which started many decades ago. I used that passion and experience to create the branding and clothing details for Columbia’s industry leading PFG clothing line. I offer these as an example of how my passion surfaced and how I continued to cultivate it. If you’re passionate about peanut butter and jelly, that’s great too. I know a man whose passion led him to creating a special peanut butter knife and had a successful Kickstarter campaign!

A lack of passion for one’s work can translate into problems in the workplace, validated by a Gallup Poll study (2014) that reports less than one third of the corporate workforce is engaged and passionate about their work. The remaining 70% are either disengaged or actively disengaging, which translates to negative drag on a company.

Except for the few lucky souls born into financial stability, we spend most of our lives working. How sad to think it is so often spent on drudgery, while feeling unhappy or desperate. It sounds so obvious but finding passion in your work benefits your entire life. If I could push one idea to students, parents, and adults in general, it would be to encourage exploration of one’s own passion. Inventory your talent. What do you really enjoy doing? Do you lose track of time doing something? What do you keep gravitating towards? What do people say you are good at?

The author performing at an early age – a love of guitars led to work in the music world

 It takes commitment and no small amount of risk to follow your passion. I get it. But risking your happiness and inner drive can lead to a lifetime mistake. “I should’a, could’a, would’a” is no way to go through life. Take a risk and just give it a chance. If it doesn’t pan out, you can always go back to whatever you were doing prior.

If at this point, you want to throttle me with talk of how hard it would be to get your old job back, or your old job may no longer be available: Note - this was a test. You are definitely not cut out for the challenge, so don’t quit your day job and don’t shoot the messenger.

The author on stage working to improve sonic quality with a wide range of musicians

 On the other hand, if you are driven to experiment with your true work passions, try it out for a while. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Just be sure you take the time to plan and inventory your resources (not just money). Go for it. You might amaze yourself. And guaranteed, you’ll be happy you tried.

There’s another option for those of you who want to take baby-steps in the passion commitment program. If you are not ready to jump ship from your current job or career path, you can still employ passion to make your existing job and your work results more satisfying and rewarding. It may sound ridiculously simple but all you need to do is figure out what brings you distinct joy at work and endeavor to focus your role in the workforce to align with it. Analyze your talents and interests, analyze your job responsibilities and the various elements of your company’s business, and present your ideas for improving your efforts and role to your boss. You’ll be amazed at the positive response most bosses will show upon hearing – and seeing – upgraded efforts and desires.

A childhood passion for saltwater fishing led to creating Columbia’s PFG fishing clothing line

Some of the best salespeople I know gravitated toward selling because they truly love meeting new people and conveying information and ideas (read: not focused on big commission checks). Because they love what they do, they have mastered their craft and are successful. This may have translated to a financial boon, but more importantly, they enjoy what they do for a living, they get excited, and it all contributes to a clear sense of purpose.

And if you feel your juices stirring at the thought of being entrepreneurial, but you don’t like the risk of a start-up, lack the economic resources, or like the idea of a support system that comes from fellow employees; consider becoming an intrapreneur. Corporations and bosses are always on the lookout for that person who wants to raise the bar at work. Apply your talent and let them know you have the drive, vision, and leadership to build within their building.

Find your passion and keep it alive – in whatever way you can apply it. Sounds silly. Doesn’t it. Like maybe your mother or father might say. The difference here is that I’m telling you to do it. I’m not trying to make you feel good. I’m telling you to take this seriously. Now. Do not dismiss your greatest driving force!

I’m not trying to make you feel good. I’m telling you to take this seriously. Now. Do not dismiss your greatest driving force!



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