If you ask many what they truly believe is the key to success, a good number of people will give the following trite advice:
“Follow your passion.”
There’s one major problem with following your passion, however: it rarely does work.
According to a research study by Stanford psychologists, following your passion could actually make you less successful. The Stanford study, involving five experiments, in which 470 participants were observed as they watched videos and read articles on things they were passionate about, found that participants who were deeply interested in just one topic were less likely to finish and understand the materials. The researchers concluded that many people often assumed that following their passion would be easy and are as a result more likely to give up when they face challenges.
Perhaps, even more noteworthy, however, is the fact that many highly successful people have come out to condemn the “follow your passion” advice.
Real estate mogul of Shark Tank fame, Barbara Corcoran, has repeatedly taken a stance against the follow your passion advice. And, being one of the hosts of the Shark Tank reality pitch show, she’d know!
In an interview, Corcoran tells Business Insider:
“Too much passion blinds an entrepreneur, just like a guy who’s madly in love. He can’t see clearly, he can’t listen, and he knows for sure that the girl is ‘absolutely perfect!’ Being too wrapped up in a love affair with your new business idea doesn’t allow you to change what’s wrong.”
Corcoran’s billionaire Shark Tank co-host, Mark Cuban, agrees. With a net worth of $4.1 billion, Cuban surely knows a thing or two about success, and he believes that the advice to follow your passion is one of the great lies of life.
In fact, Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man agrees; Bezos’ first passion was to be a physicist, but he “figured out [he] wasn’t smart enough to be a physicist.”
So, as sad as it might be to realize this, following your passion isn’t necessarily going to be your key to success. Instead, you should do the following four things:
1. Be Passionate About What You Do
“But… you said not to follow my passion.”
Hold on a sec, and pay careful attention: there is a difference between following your passion and being passionate about what you do.
The idea behind following your passion is often to do that one thing you love so much and are practically married to — regardless of its practicality. That is what this piece is against.
To be passionate about what you do, however, means to put your ultimate best passion into anything you do — whether it is your “passion” or not.
2. Be Ready to Put in The Effort
When asked what the key to success is if not passion, Mark Cuban says it’s something else: effort.
Cuban believes that far more than passion, effort will determine how far you go in life. More importantly, you can also control the amount of effort you put into something.
Successful people often pay a higher price than the average joe in terms of effort. Thomas Edison, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, etc. If there’s one thing that they have in common that makes them different, it is that they put in significantly more effort (usually in the form of insane work hours, dedication, and commitment to their business/projects) compared to the average joe.
3. Be Patient
Besides effort, time is another major factor that will determine your success but that you have little control over. In fact, when looking at outliers and masters of their field, the concept of 10,000 hours of deliberate practice has been floated a lot, and the idea is that it usually takes AT LEAST 10,000 hours of deliberate practice for people to become masters of their field.
Deliberate practice refers to the effort you put in to achieve mastery while 10,000 hours stands for the time it takes. No matter how good you are, there is no shortcutting the time it will take to succeed.
4. Get Enough Other People Interested
One of Zig Ziglar’s most famous quotes is, “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” And it still rings true almost a decade after his death!
One of the reasons why many people fail at turning their passion to money is that their passion is either something very few people are interested in or something they haven’t really been able to get a lot of other people to be interested in.
For your ideas to succeed, they need to be adopted by others. Therefore, it is important to not just pursue an idea that many people would embrace, but to also actively work towards promoting this idea. You can start with the basics: start a website, use social media, leverage your social circles, etc.