Is Pursuing Your Passion is Overrated?

by Michael Simmons on Apr 24, 2009

We’re always taught to go after our passions in life. The logic is that the more passionate we are about something:

  1. The more we’ll enjoy what we do.
  2. Therefore, the more we’ll work.
  3. Therefore, the more we’ll be successful.

I agree with this generally, but when it gets to the specifics, I disagree:

  1. Success requires focus and deliberate practice. If you follow your passions of the day, you will jump from one project to another without achieving mastery. Many of the rewards of hard work come from mastery, not just competency.

    For example, is Tiger Woods passionate about golf, yes! Is Tiger Woods passionate about every second of practice he does, probably not!

  2. The better at something we are, the easier it is to be passionate about it.Unfortunately, we’re uncomfortable and not very good when just starting at most things. Ironically, developing a passion often requires doing something you’re not passionate about at first until you are.

    For example,. I used to hate writing. It was always my worst subject in school. However, after doing it over time, it has become a passion.

Crazy Ideas to Ponder

  • Passion has less to do with what we do then how it is structured.

    - Why are you doing it
    - Under what context are you doing it
    - How do you think about it

  • We control the structure of what we do. Therefore, we could theoretically be passionate about anything including life overall. Just look at the random passions people have across the world. Tour speaker (, Patrick Cuartero of YoYo Nation (http://www.yoyonation), loves yo-yoing. Tour speaker, Luke Tipple (, loves sharks. Instead of letting your random life experiences control your passion, you could choose them.
  • It is more fulfilling, impact-making & financially rewarding to pursue something you’re passionate about overall and achieve mastery in it then it is to jump from one passion to another.

How it Applies to My Life

I love my company, Extreme Entrepreneurship Education. I’m passionate about it, because:

  • It is the way that I see I can make the biggest difference in the world.
  • It allows me to work with my wife, friends, passionate educators, top young entrepreneurs, and whoever else I want to.
  • It allows me to work from home, which means that I’m getting a full night of rest (because I can sleep in) and spending 5-6 hours a day with our daughter, Halle, during her most formative stage in life.
  • It pays for a lifestyle that I’m extremely passionate about.
  • It is constantly pushing my comfort zone and making me a better person.

Things I don’t like about it are:

  • Sometimes we have to schedule schools back-to-back and drive overnight in order to be able to work with the school’s schedule. Being on the road with little sleep and having to be high-energy is very challenging over time.
  • At this stage in the company, there is stuff that I must do on a consistent basis, which I don’t enjoy.
  • Up to this point, we’ve felt that we’ve had to work crazy hours in order to get the company off the ground.
  • Dealing with cash crunches from time-to-time.
  • Not being able to leave work at work during stressful periods.

Could I start another company? Yes.

Have I thought about it? Yes. I’m an idea guy.

Will I? No. Not in the foreseeable future.

In the end, the clear decision for me has always been to grow the organization to its fullest potential and to structure it to maximize my fulfillment from it. In the past, I’ve jumped from passion-to-passion, and it led to poverty, slower learning & growth, and no growth in the organization.

Answer Me These Questions…

What are your thoughts on these crazy ideas to ponder?

How do you identify and build new passions?

When is the best time to jump from one passion to another?

How do you know whether something is no longer a passion or you’re just going through a difficult period?


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I'm the co-founder of Empact, one of the leading entrepreneurship education organizations in the world. I'm obsessed with understanding how we all can lead meaningful lives that have a positive social impact. I love probing into the truth of how we experience life. I believe that challenges are what make us grow the most, and I openly share my experiences. Continue reading…