(This is the preface to Do What Makes Your Soul Sing which is my latest free collection of notes on the Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders series.)
Passion is one of the most common themes in the eight years of Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders talks I have taken notes on. It is also an idea that I give a lot of thought about in my life but in a way that creates negative emotions. Why? Because much of our everyday lives is dominated by work, chores, and other obligations we are not passionate about.
With enough wealth one can offload those tasks in their lives to free up time to dedicate to the things they are passionate about. But the rest of us do not have it so easy with 9-to-5s, kids, a mortgage, and other demands on our time and resources. The question of how to integrate passion in our lives is more difficult.
Defining what you are passionate about is the the first step in answering that question. The answer to that probably lies somewhere near the intersection of two other questions: If you won the lottery and did not have to work what would you do with your days? What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
Figure out what your passion is and pursue it with a vengeance. – Melinda Gates (Gates Foundation)
If I was already wealthy I would probably fish and golf more often. I love playing with my kids. However I know I would still have the urge to create. The past fifteen years my passions have been writing, filmmaking, cooking, programming, and trying to start and grow a business. I would spend even more times doing those if I did not need to trade my time for money to support my family.
If I knew I could not fail then building a business would be the thing I would focus upon. I love the idea that you can build something that generates wealth by helping others do the same.
If you can make other people successful you can make the world a better place. – Tim O’Reilly (O’Reilly)
And you know what? I won’t fail. With a long enough time horizon I can only succeed.
Have long-term time horizons. – Stephen Cohen (Palantir)
Finding success is going to require putting in the time. Circumstance is not always forgiving to freeing up time on the calendar. Time management (read the book Getting Things Done) is important. Mood is equally important.
Choose whatever version of reality that puts you in the most useful mental state. – Olivia Fox Cabane (Author)
Don’t linger on bad decisions. – Geoff Yang (Redpoint Ventures)
Overall my advice is to indulge your passion at least once a day in some manner no matter how small. If your passion is a charity then maybe it is saving a dollar or planning a fundraising party. If your passion is fishing then maybe it is tying a fly or organizing your tackle box (I did this at least weekly as a boy). Right now I try to do one thing every day that pushes my business forward.
Doing that makes my soul sing at least once every day.