Identifying your passions for success

I woke up on my birthday this past Saturday morning and thought about the day ahead. What did I want to do today?

I think it says a lot about where your passions lie, when on a day you can legitimately do most anything you want (a birthday and a Saturday), on how you plan your activities.

For me, far in advance I knew I wanted to go climbing. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating. Apart from climbing, I really wanted to work on my new project (a soon to be announced web application). And after a few good hours of working, to then spend the afternoon and evening with my wife.

The point I’m trying to make is that you need a strong passion for your idea to be an entrepreneur. How many normal people choose to work on a day off where most would relax?

Let me be clear that I’m not necessarily advocating all work and no play (hey I wanted to go climbing on Saturday). And I wholeheartedly believe in the notion of work-life balance. But I think what you want to do in your “free” time can tell you a lot.

I’m not sure it’s enough to simply have a business idea and work towards execution. It takes more than that. That’s where passion for what you trying to accomplish comes in. The passion simply must be there. Otherwise, when you’re discouraged or frustrated or flat out exhausted you will keep working and press on.

One of my favorite quotes touches on this:

It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the
strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose
face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly;
who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great
enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy
cause; who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement; and
who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his
place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know
neither victory or defeat. – Theodore Roosevelt

Where does persistence and drive come from? Maybe a deep passion for what we’re doing?

So the next time you’re trying to start on your next big idea, take note of what you feel like doing that Saturday morning.

Tom currently works in developer relations for IBM Watson. A serial entrepreneur, he's been the founder of numerous startups including Investify and StatsMix, a Techstars alumni company. Tom lives outside Boulder, Colorado and in his free time he's an avid rock climber, skier, and trail runner.

5 comments On Identifying your passions for success

  • Such a simple yet appropriate message, awesome quote also

  • I remember hearing about a study done by some prestigious MBA program. They asked 1,000 or so young people if they were interested in following their passions or making money. After 10 or so years, they went back and talked to the same people… and found that the group that chased passion (and not wealth) had two-fold (or more) the number of millionaires. They were also the most satisfied with their work and careers. Gotta love what you do. Gotta.

  • There's some cheese whiz here… but…. it's necessary for entrepreneurship AND for being happy with life. It's Maslow, baby! I'd put finding your passion in life (actualization) as the highest level of self-fulfillment and understanding one can achieve. I wish I'd realized it WAY earlier in life, in fact. So, find that one thing that defines your core, and you will also find happiness and something that defines you. And it will center and ground you in bad times. It' will carry you and motivate others, too.

  • This is true not only of entrepreneurship, but choosing a career that will make you happy – if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing (whether or not you want to work on your day off), then you’ll truly by “working” for a living.

  • True Cory, but the difference I'm talking about is that passion is necessary for entrepreneurship while for any other job where you're working for someone else it's a "nice to have."

    You don't need passion to do most jobs, but obviously your enjoyment and performance would be much better. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, face a different set of circumstances on average and having passion for their idea/company/etc can carry them through the hard times.

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