Got mentioned in a tweet yesterday quoting Pierre Omidyar, the founder of Ebay. Pierre is quoted as saying the following:

if you’re passionate about something and you work hard, then you will be successful.

Let’s dig a little deeper on this word “passionate.” A quick search for the definition of “passion” leads you to Websters, which provides these definitions:

a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something; a strong feeling (such as anger) that causes you to act in a dangerous way

Now, while both of these definitions can surely be applied to starting a business, so can this one:

that which befalls one, i.e. a suffering, a passion

And from that definition, we get “passionate”, which means “to suffer for”. So, when you say you are “passionate about” this or that, you’re saying you are willing to suffer for this or that. OK, good. So if you’re starting a business, you had better be willing and ready to suffer for it, with it, through it, and after it, because 90% of startups fail. Do you still pass the sniff test? Still willing to suffer for whatever it is you’re starting? Great!

But that does not mean you will be successful. So let’s take that quote from Mr. Omidyar again, as it was quoted on Twitter: “If you’re passionate about something and you work hard, then you will be successful.” Wrong. What Omidyar actually said was, “If you’re passionate about something and you work hard, then I think you will be successful.”

There are no guarantees, and just because you’re “passionate” about something doesn’t mean it’s going to work. Your words matter. Choose – and quote – them carefully.

One thought on “What’s your passion?

  1. Kevin:

    Great point. Passion does not guarantee success.
    I prefer the take of Mike Rowe (from Dirty Jobs) regarding passion:

    “Passion is too important to be without, but too fickle to be guided by. Which is why I’m more inclined to say, “Don’t Follow Your Passion, But Always Bring it With You.””


    PS Regarding the mis-tweet…Yogi Berra was quoted “I really didn’t say everything I said,”

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