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Passion: Is it Really Critical to Business Success?

June 04, 2015 5:12 PM | Professional Women (Administrator)
Passion, smassion...just give me my paycheck! Some may tell you it’s one of those touchy-feely concepts reserved for artists and activists. But how important is passion in business?

Passion stirs the fire in the belly that drives you to do what most people won’t. It’s why individuals devote their lives to causes that will change the world. And also what compels a scientist to spend 16-hour days in the lab hoping to get one step closer to the solution for a customer. 

When we lack passion, we lack an authentic drive to succeed. We may be temporarily motivated by money or a fear of consequences, but that will only last for so long. 

I’ve learned this the hard way with my teenage son. Deon was an above-average student until high school. Suddenly, it was like his brain became disconnected from the rest of his body. Semester after semester, he teetered on the borderline of failure in at least one class. 

We enlisted the help of tutors, offered financial incentives, and took away every privilege short of eating and breathing, with mediocre results.

No matter how hard we tried, we just couldn’t get Deon to see the long-term implications of his actions (or inaction), mainly because he doesn’t possess a strong passion for anything. 

So I had to lay down my high scholastic aspirations for him in exchange for the hopeful realization that when he discovers his “thing”, he’ll be okay. Just this week, he mentioned that he thought it would be cool to live abroad. This just may be the thing that will turn life around for him.   

Is passion in business important? You bet. Leadership expert John Maxwell said, “A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from his passion, not position.” 

If the team you’re leading isn’t performing to your expectations, ask yourself, “How can I make them passionate about what we’re trying to achieve?” Short-term incentives and scare tactics will only go so far.

So what can you do if you find that you’re losing passion for your work? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. When was the last time I was really excited about my work?
  2. What existed then that doesn’t exist today?
  3. What can I do to get it back?

Maybe your business was really exciting in the start-up phase, but now it’s gotten dull and mundane. Or your last position involved lots of customer interaction, but now you’re stuck behind a desk. You may not be able to able to bring the passion back to your day-to-day routine, but maybe there are activities you can get involved in outside of work to fill the void, like volunteering. 

I’ve helped people launch side businesses that reignite their passion and allow them to earn extra income. Or maybe it’s time to start considering a bold shift.

Whatever the right answer is for you, you owe it to yourself to thoughtfully pursue it. Simply hoping things will change is a lot like hoping to win the lottery when you didn’t even buy a ticket. When you’re passionate about your work, greatness happens.

And the impact of that greatness is bigger than just you and your happiness. Living with passion isn’t a selfish pursuit; it’s your personal responsibility.

Will you live up to it?

Isha Cogborn is the CEO and Founder of Epiphany Institute, a professional development firm that works with people who want to find more meaning and fulfillment to their careers through coaching, training and online communities.  Get weekly inspiration on her website at and connect with Isha on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

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