Why Passion Will Fuel Your Greatest Work

Why Passion Will Fuel Your Greatest Work

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Emilie Wapnick of Puttylike.com.

It’s Saturday night, 11pm, and I’m at my desk working.

You don’t have to feel sorry for me though. I have no boss breathing down my neck or pressing deadline to meet. I could just as easily be at the bar, sipping a pint with friends.

But instead I’m at home, typing away fervently, working on my business.

Staying in and working on a Saturday night was an easy choice to make actually… It simply sounded like more fun.

The Tug of War Between Profit and Passion

Growing up, we’re taught that there’s work – that thing that provides financial security – and then there’s fun: our passions, hobbies, dreams and pursuits.

Sure, we can use the money we make from our day job to help fund our outside endeavors. Maybe if we’re really lucky, we’ll even find a career that’s also somewhat in line with our interests! But we’re cautioned that rejecting this model and putting our passions first means a life of Ramen noodles and ratty apartments.

These are our choices: profit or passion. Bring them together or keep them apart, it’s your call. But life is presented to us as a tug-of-war between two distinct forces

Could Passion and Profit be One and the Same?

Here’s a radical idea: maybe these two forces aren’t distinct at all.

When you look at people who truly dominate in their fields – the Oprahs and Obamas and even the Trumps of this world – they are usually highly passionate about their work. Innovators don’t find a compromise between profit and passion. They reject the binary all together.

Ultimately, the profit is where the passion is.

My reasoning isn’t based on any woo-woo theories about how the universe conspires to help those who follow their dreams either (though I do happen to believe this). My reasoning is based on numbers, and numbers alone.

What Does it Take to “Make it”?

“I want to say “good luck,” but it doesn’t take luck…”

These were the last words a stranger on a bus once said to me after a conversation in which I shared my plans to start a business to “inspire multipotentialites to embrace their multipotentiality.”

Most successful people will tell you the same thing: success is not a result of luck or talent. There’s no big break. You never get “discovered”. Success comes to those who work their ASSES off.

Hard work, persistence, long hours in the trenches, getting back up after a flop- these are the traits that distinguish the truly successful from everybody else.

We Always Work 1000% Harder on Something We Believe In

If hard work is the distinguishing factor between those who make it and those who do not, then what’s the best way to motivate hard work? Make all that hard work fun. Make it something you love.

I’m not saying that passion always immediately leads to profit. Sometimes it takes experimentation and a few failed attempts along the way. But when you’re filling your time with activities that light you up, work doesn’t feel like work. As a result, you’re infinitely more motivated to put in insane hours (like working till wee hours on a Saturday night).

Doing what you love means that you’re more driven, indeed overjoyed, to put in the hours necessary to crush it. You work and work and work because there’s nothing in the world you’d rather be doing! It’s like breathing.

But is there a Market for My Passions?

Alright, lets talk practicalities for a minute. The fact is, as hard as you may work on your passions, someone’s got to buy what you’re selling. Spending all day in your room reading mystery novels and writing odes on the guitar isn’t going to pay the bills. I hear you.

You absolutely need a way to channel your interests into something that others will pay for. But this is not a compromise or a constraint on your creativity, it’s a perk!

Would keeping all of your passions to yourself fulfill you in the long run anyway?

You don’t have to monetize all your passions. In fact, if you’re lucky enough to be a mulitpotentialite and have many areas of interest, you might want to keep some of them just for you.

But in the grand scheme of things, we all want to change the world, every single one of us. We want our time here to be meaningful, for some greater purpose.

When you channel your passions into something that adds value, solves problems and enriches lives, those passions become even more fulfilling. That’s also a service people will happily pay for.

What if You Don’t Feel like an Expert?

You may worry that you don’t have what it takes to turn your passion into a business, that you lack the expertise necessary to help others. Well, you know what? You’re wrong. As Barbara Sher says, “what you love is what you’re gifted at.”

Follow your heart, hone your skills and practice. If you’re doing what you love, you’ll have the drive to get good. Just start, you’ll get there.

This isn’t just about making money either. The whole world benefits when you’re doing your greatest work, and your greatest work will always be that which you love the most.

***

Do you ever stop and find yourself overjoyed to be working? Is this not the greatest feeling in the world?

About the Author: Emilie Wapnick is a writer and multipotentialite at Puttylike.com. She inspires other Renaissance types to build lives and businesses around their many interests. She is the author of The ‘Undeclared for Life’ Manifesto and co-hosts the podcast Undeclared for Life.

photo courtesy of in_2_the_fray

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31 Comments on "Why Passion Will Fuel Your Greatest Work"

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[…] a guest post I wrote was published today on Illuminated Mind. Check it out, I think you’ll enjoy it. Share Share | var addthis_config = […]

Brian
Guest

“Most successful people will tell you the same thing: success is not a result of luck or talent. There’s no big break. You never get “discovered”. Success comes to those who work their ASSES off.” Always a necessary reminder. And I know for me, I’m not going to REALLY work my ass for for something if I don’t believe in it 100%. Passion as a fuel for profits, I love it.

Sal_Greco
Guest
WOW WOW WOW WOW Emilie… First off… Check this out… Right now, I am commenting SOLEY on your headline… Yes, that means I did NOT even read the post yet… (I will read of course and comment more in a minute) I just wanted to say AWESOME job!!!! Jonathans blog is so special, he is one of the few sites I have the RSS hooked up to my sites fanpage, and twitter, so I was on MY fanpage… Saw this Headline… and just wanted to pop in first and say, from seeing the headline alone…. Totally F*$#ing RIGHT It Does!!!!!!… Read more »
ethanwaldman
Guest

Great post, Emilie. I’ve found that in the course of finding a market for my passions, that I have deepened my interest and depth of knowledge in them. It’s a win-win!

MartaSpendowska
Guest
Such empowering post, Emilie. But. I’m in the middle of Penelope Trunk’s book. Have you got yours? It’s golden + hard-cover one — such a brilliant combo. Anyways. She brings up this uncomfortable idea, for us, media entrepreneurs, writers, painters, you know who. She says : ” Bad Career Advice : Do What You Love”. And it’s her talking. PT! She says it’s an absurd, and if you’re telling yourself that your job has to be something you’d do even if you didn’t get paid, you’ll be looking for a long time. She advices to rather : DO WHAT YOU… Read more »
MartaSpendowska
Guest
One more point : If we’re talking mostly about channelling your passions into something that adds value, solves problems and enriches lives, then we’re talking about passion more than the service. That’s why people question their value/expertise. Qs like : “Is my pasion ENOUGH to solve your problem?” I think it can become the service/business once we DECIDE to monetize it and treat it as a service/business, not the other way around. More like : I am THIS, I do THAT well (it happens I like it very much), I build business around it. Then: I love doing it, I… Read more »
Emilie
Guest
Marta, Yeah, a lot of people believe that you shouldn’t turn what you love into your career. I’m in the other camp (for the reasons I explored above). I guess I have a hard time making the who/what distinction in my mind. I actually believe that you ARE what you love doing. If you love writing, then you’re going to write. That makes you a writer. And if you’re a multipotentialite, there will be many things that you love, do, and consequently, are. And I don’t think there’s something inherent in the Oprah and Obamas of this world. I don’t… Read more »
Emilie
Guest

Whoa… My line breaks disappeared. Sorry about that. :)

Emilie
Guest
@MartaSpendowska Yeah, a lot of people believe that you shouldn’t turn what you love into your career. I’m in the other camp (for the reasons I explored above). I guess I have a hard time making the who/what distinction in my mind. I actually believe that you ARE what you love doing. If you love writing, then you’re going to write. That makes you a writer. And if you’re a multipotentialite, there will be many things that you love, do, and consequently, are. And I don’t think there’s something inherent in the Oprah and Obamas of this world. I don’t… Read more »
Emilie
Guest

@ethanwaldman Definitely! I’ve found the same thing. It’s pretty amazing when you take on a project because you’re curious in learning about something new-ish and then once the project is complete, you have this whole new skill set. That’s pretty much how I taught myself webdesign- building on previous skills and taking on projects that pushed me a little further down the rabbit hole.

Thanks Ethan! It’s nice connecting with you. I really dig what you’re up to.

Emilie
Guest
@Sal_Greco Wow – Thank you, Sal! I love your story too. Are you familiar with Srini Rao’s blog The Skool of Life? His whole life and career revolves around his love for surfing. I think it’s beautiful how he mixes his identity as a surfer with his other interests (business, personal development, travel, etc.) on his site too. And you’re absolutely right. Doing something you DON’T love is a waste. You’re bound to struggle to keep up against those who are truly passionate. It’s also so sad to see someone just pursuing something because they think it’s what they’re “supposed”… Read more »
Emilie
Guest

@Brian Yup! It makes such logical sense. It’s about numbers- putting in your time.

Thanks for the comment, Brian.

patientpotter
Guest

Passion creates enthusiasm, enthusiasm creates customers, customers create profits.

MartaSpendowska
Guest
@Emilie @MartaSpendowska I’m in the same camp as you are, Emilie. Maybe I didn’t convey what I mean. The who/what distinction might be, I guess, explained like so : I am interested in art, because of who I am/what I’ve experienced etc. From there I paint, explore and the passion kicks in. But I agree, it’s a tricky one. It’s one of those : What was first: chicken or egg. Also, about passion and business. I paint. I used to paint a lot. I also come from a weird, lovely, passive country Poland. I could never make a living as… Read more »
MartaSpendowska
Guest

Sorry for no brakes.. eh! Writing from iPad.

MartaSpendowska
Guest
@Emilie @MartaSpendowska I’m in the same camp as you are, Emilie. Maybe I didn’t convey what I mean. The who/what distinction might be, I guess, explained like so : I am interested in art, because of who I am/what I’ve experienced etc. From there I paint, explore and the passion kicks in. But I agree, it’s a tricky one. It’s one of those : What was first: chicken or egg. Also, about passion and business. I paint. I used to paint a lot. I also come from a weird, lovely, passive country Poland. I could never make a living as… Read more »
Emilie
Guest

@patientpotter I never thought if it that way, but you’re right. People are always looking to be inspired. If you can inspire people, you’ll be alright financially.

Emilie
Guest

@MartaSpendowska I actually do believe that artists can make a living off their art by using web 2.0 tools (I wrote a post on this: http://puttylike.com/starving-artist-meet-web-2-0/). I’m actually working on a side project to teach artists how “not to starve”. Sort of taking off from where that post left off.. But yeah, side note.

Thanks for the comments. :)

Emilie
Guest

@MartaSpendowska

I actually do believe that artists can make a living off their art by using web 2.0 tools (I wrote a post on this: http://puttylike.com/starving-artist-meet-web-2-0/ ) I’m actually working on a side project to teach artists how “not to starve”. Sort of taking off from where that post left off.. But yeah, side note.

Thanks for the comments. :)

yTravelBlog
Guest
Love this post and agree 100%. I am also staying up till all hours of the morning sacrificing a lot for my passion and I never once regret it, I love it. As Trump always says “Love what you do!” That is the number one reason for success and turning massive rewards. Just look at musicians and sports people as examples they love what they do and they get richly rewarded. My passion is travel, and I have been living and travelling the world for 14 years. i stopped for a brief period and my life went downhill because I… Read more »
Emilie
Guest

@yTravelBlog

Wow, that’s amazing! Good for you. You touched on another really important point which is that you don’t need to apply to be “chosen”. You don’t need the big industry’s approval. You just “choose yourself” and then build something. It’s amazing how many people are waiting for permission to follow their passions. The key is to just start and then the opportunities come.

Thanks for the comment!

HolliMargell
Guest
I don’t know how you do it, but here is a perfectly timed post! I was just talking to my man, Casey, about perspective and expectations shaping how we perceive our abilities. I have found myself thinking bigger, actually believing in my ability to help people and share my passions. Just starting a blog as scary. Now that I have developed a level of confidence and focus, it feels possible to go further and create a more defined site honing in on my passions. Thanks to you, I have clarity. This post just adds to that. So, although it’s taking… Read more »
Emilie
Guest
@HolliMargell I remember when you started your first blog. And I’ve also noticed how your confidence has grown. It’s amazing how something feels terrifying at first and then you do it and adjust, and it’s not so bad… And of course, that next step feels scary too, but this time you’re a little more prepared to take the leap. Every accomplishment builds on the last and you start gaining momentum. But yes, you’re absolutely right. Just starting (even if it’s starting small) is so important! I’m really looking forward to the launch of your new site. I think you have… Read more »
Sal_Greco
Guest

@Emilie @Sal_Greco Hey, thanks Emilie!!! And.. of COURSE I know Srini lol…. He made the jump move ahead of me, that is my next step. Once business is a little more automated, instead of taking trips, I will turn life into a BIG trip…. Full time traveling “Surftrepreneur”!!!

See you around!

Ken Wert
Guest

I always like to think of the famous quote by Thomas Edison, “Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.”

It is so true that success requires all of us. That’s true, though, no matter what we do. Successfully building a deeply rewarding relationship and happy marriage, successfully raising kids who are motivated, happy and loving, or successfully building a blog that provides others with hope and direction and answers to deep abiding questions about life and choices and happiness.

Thanks for the timely reminder, Emilie!

Emilie
Guest

@Ken Wert Absolutely. And it’s that much easier to put in the 90% when you have passion to back it up.

Thanks Ken!

Nikoya
Guest
Passion may be the inner fuel that flows, but what is the substance that actually holds the bigger picture intact? We can work our asses off on something that we ultimately love, but like you hinted at, if you do not believe in yourself, you might end up working hard for something to fail. I think passion is a vital ingredient of the fuel because it births persistence. Without persistence you give up. But if you do not do your practical research and apply your time wisely, you passion may be left alone for only you to enjoy..
MartaSpendowska
Guest

@Emilie @MartaSpendowska That’s great! Loving your writing style + this post you’re referring to. Thanks Emilie—you definitely rock!

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[…] and watching 30 Rock DVDs. It’s also long term projects, new curiosities and various passion-fueled endeavors. Talk about a perk of being a scanner! There is some incredibly meaningful work you could […]

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[…] Freedom through simple living, world travel and passionate ways to make a living. […]

Naomi
Guest

Thanks for this inspiring post Emilie.
I finally started my blog to combine some passions of mine. Kitesurfing. Living abroad. Travel Hack. Personal development. I couldn’t pick one to concentrate on, so we shall see where the blog will take me this year. Luckily my bills are paid through teaching kiteboarding but I am thinking of a new project to bring kitesurfing to the 2.0 world. I may check out your new product for artists. Does that apply to sports?

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