Having passion for what you do is great. And I’ve said many times that passion for your business is essential. But today I’m going to take a step back from that and share something I learned recently. When allowed to run unchecked in business, passion can actually work against you. What does this mean? This idea really resonated with me, and I want to explore it a little more.

Passion for People vs Passion for Your Business

We should be passionate about people, the people we love, the people we serve and even the people we see who need our help. But we have to be careful about confusing personal passion with our work. Personal passion is unlimited and doesn’t acknowledge boundaries. We overlook shortcomings in the people we’re passionate about. In business, we need to be more shrewd than passion allows us, because we can’t afford to overlook the fatal flaw in a business plan. Yes, you need to take risks. But if you don’t approach a business idea or trajectory with realism, you’re risk is too great. Be ruthless and relentless in your evaluation of new business ideas.

What are you talking about, Sean?

Good question! As I mentioned last week, I’m contradicting what I’ve said over the years–a little bit. Here’s an example I think really works. Your partner in life loves cooking, but the results are awful. I mean so terrible you’re considering buying stock in an antacid company. Do you really need to tell them? Maybe not. You don’t want to discourage them in something they’re so passionate about. (The relationship counselors can argue that one out, but for our purposes we’re going to let them have their passion!) But that approach just doesn’t work in business. Let’s say you’re the one who loves to cook. You’re passionate about cooking, and you want to open a restaurant. Great! Only problem is, you’re not very good at cooking food. You’re terrible, and everyone says so. From food critics to customers, no one wants what you’re selling. Do you hear that feedback? If you’re letting your passion override your common sense, you forge ahead and open that restaurant anyway. Pretty soon, you’re in debt, miserable and out of business.

Know When to Walk Away

No one enjoys giving up on a business idea without a fight. And that feeling is even worse when you’ve poured your heart and soul into a passion project. But when an idea isn’t working out, you have to walk away.

You may want your business idea to be successful, but wishing doesn’t make it so. You don’t want to go down with the ship. Giving up is hard, and most entrepreneurs aren’t wired that way. So take good, hard looks at your business on a regular basis, and be prepared to make the hard choices when the time comes. Passion is powerful. Just make sure it’s working in your favor and not impeding your success!

Is your passion getting in the way? Get in touch with me here or on LinkedIn, and I can help you find out.


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