Don’t follow your passion. Follow the problem.
Passion is the new black. Heck, you can’t throw a rock without hitting someone yapping about passion. Founders proudly parade how they’re passionate about their solution, or how much passion they’ve already have put into their startup. Yet, there is a reason why the Latin etymology for passion is indeed… suffering. Or is it?
Following your passion never made anyone a billionaire.
Solving a problem does.
As does hard work. And of course, you need to have skin and heart in the game, preferably something you really like doing. But passion? The only place where the word passion is appropriate, is when you’re describing a fruit. Or preferably, a daiquiri.
Yay for being passionate
“Passion” is the name of the Kool-Aid we love to drink. We regurge passion as quotes we plaster on inspirational posters and t-shirts. And every day, as mindless drones, we sing to the tune of this contraption we call our startup culture, earmarked by systemic brainwashing practices that glorify passion and vision, but little else.
What a bunch of BS. “Follow Your Passion” is easily the worst advice you could ever give or get.Forget about finding your passion. Instead, focus on finding big problems – Mark Cuban
Most people are passionate about sitting around in their underwear, eating potato chips and binge watch episodes Sons of Anarchy on Netflix. Hardly things one can make money with.
Think about all the things you’ve been passionate about. Now look at your bank account.
The passion abyss
Every founder starts his company with an unshakeable belief, optimism and enthusiasm. This results in taking risks and doing crazy working hours. This level of enthusiasm is what keeps you going, motivates the founding team, and gets your first product shipped.
Don’t be passionate about your product, but be passionate about solving a problem.
But there is a dark side. If you are too much in love with your product, you might fail to appreciate criticism, become blind to predatory investors, or develop blind spots the size of a jumbo jet.
Follow your heart, but check it with your head
Any fool can carry on, but only the wise man knows how to shorten sail. Hence, passion is more often than not an affliction.
Take the attitude of the scientist – be passionate about solving the problem, not proving your solution. Remove your own personal bias and be willing to abandon what you thought was a great idea if the market tells you otherwise – Nathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom in Nail it, Then scale it
So let’s call it out as it is. For a company to make sense, it needs generate a profit. Sure, we all want to change the world and leave the world in a better shape than we found it and what not, but when take off our PR cap and talk facts and figures, turning a product into a profit is the only thing that counts really for a company.
A good idea and vision is your map, a good product your tool, and having a company culture where you can retain talent is a necessity.
Follow the problem
So instead of following your passion, you should follow the problem you can, and want, to solve. Preferably a big problem.
Then you work hard on it, so you become an expert at solving that problem. And by doing so, you’ll find great joy in your work and life because you are able to solve and change something. And that feeling of accomplishment makes you feel passionate.
If there’s any lesson learned in running your company, it’s how you should stop following your passion, and start following the money paid by people to you because you solved their problem.
In the end, passion is a byproduct of working hard and becoming really good at something.Most people have it backward, and believe their passion will lead them right into a great life.
Passion never does.
Hard work does.