in entrepreneurship

Passion Never Earned a Paycheck

Passion never earned a paycheck. Why? Because passion isn’t enough. 

Passion is a word we throw around to justify what we do. But passion isn’t what puts food on the table. It doesn’t pay the mortgage. It isn’t what allows you to travel the world, living out of a backpack.

No, that can be attributed to one thing: Hard work. Effort. Hustle.

We vastly under-appreciate the value of hard work. We’re fooled into believing that success is based on love, passion, even luck or circumstance. But putting forth effort – trying – doing, that’s what creates passion. That’s what helps us to identify what it is that we love doing.

A recent article by Mark Cuban breaks it down like this:

  1. When you work hard at something you become good at it.
  2. When you become good at doing something, you will enjoy it more.
  3. When you enjoy doing something, there is a very good chance you will become passionate or more passionate about it
  4. When you are good at something, passionate and work even harder to excel and be the best at it, good things happen.

Being passionate about something, truly passionate, requires confidence, maybe more than anything else. When you’re confident you can deliver, and deliver well, when you’re not good, but GREAT at something, it’s ridiculously easy to discover that passion we’re all so desperately in pursuit of.

As I’ve said before: “…The value of hard work cannot be substituted with anything in this world. It is the essence, the life-force, and the reason for success. It’s also the biggest deficiency for most people – the lack of desire to work hard, especially in a society that demands immediate gratification, holds us back…”

The funny thing about passion? It has to be discovered – and the only way if can be discovered is if you’re willing to put forth the effort to find it.

As Cuban says, “…follow your effort. It will lead you to your passions and to success, however you define it.”

How has hard work and hustle helped you to discover your passion?

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21 Comments

  1. This is something like the egg-chicken thing, which came first? I would say that without passion, you won’t be willing to put the hard work, but I do believe that with hard work MAY come passion. Great blog by the way… Greetings from Mexico

    • There is problem for sure, how does one pursue a passion if it’s just hard work first? Passion can be ruined by hard work too (for some) I think these are character traits learned over time with a lot faliur and moments of laziness and regret you don’t want to repeat

      • Good points guys. I agree. More than anything, I think passion requires confidence in your ability to do whatever it is you’re passionate about, and do it well, maybe better than anyone else. That confidence is developed and earned through hard work and effort. So, they all go together hand-in-hand. 

  2. Love this post. I think passion is a good start towards willingly putting forth a great effort. There are people out there who work hard and are successful at jobs that they are not passionate about. And many leave those jobs to work on their passion. Passion may not be enough to earn a paycheck, but I think it is a great start where people are more prone to put forth more effort. Thanks Matt.

    • Agreed. In order to WANT to put the time and energy into something, there needs to be that desire – but I think PASSION only develops through hard work, effort, and becoming a master of your craft.

  3. Great post, Matt. As someone who co-writes a blog called “Pursuing Our Passion,” I think this is a topic that needs to be addressed. I came across Mark’s article recently and found it had a lot of valid points. But I do have to agree with Marco – to a certain extent there is a “chicken and egg” theory going on. To be honest, if someone would have told me to try harder or work harder at my previous job and eventually I’d enjoy it more, I probably would have had something not-so-nice to say back.

    When I quit, it was because I wanted to pursue my passion (as cheesy as it sounds) for learning what it means to run a small business and serve clients I care about. That in and of itself involves a great deal of hard work and hustle, which I also knew going into it. But it was the passion that allowed me to have the courage to quit in the first place.

    That said, I also agree that it does not always pay the bills. Additionally, not everyone really knows what the heck they are passionate about. Is passion the same as a hobby? I’m not really sure – in most cases, probably not. It’s not always immediately apparent. Which is why it’s important to try everything and never stop “doing.” Keep working hard, as you said, and if something doesn’t feel right, try something new and work even harder. Eventually we’ll find it…or so I believe! Thanks for the insight.

    • Great points, Jenn. As someone who has been walking a parallel path as you over the last few years, I understand completely where you’re coming from.

      I’ll play devils advocate a bit. I think that you (just as I did) learned very early on that the confines of a 9-5 office/agency career would never be your passion. That it would never fulfill you. That being said, you DID try. At some point, getting that agency job meant something – at least, it did to me. I though about how amazing it was going to be working with big-name clients, being able to travel, etc. So I did give it my call. I hustled. I worked hard. I bought into the culture…

      And then, through that effort. Through learning. Maybe even through failing. I discovered that it wasn’t my passion. That to feel 100% satisfied, I needed to be doing my own thing. I needed to be my own boss. I needed to feel like I was in control of my options in life. And I haven’t looked back…

      Discovering your passion(s) is a constant learning process, I believe. Passions can change – they’re discovered and rediscovered. That’s the great part about learning, working, hustling, trying, and creating. It’s our experiences, both good and bad, passionate and mind-numbing, that shape and define us. 

      Thanks for making me think more critically about this… :)

      • That is a really great point, Matt! Having thought about it more, I really did consider my first job to be the “dream” when I took it. Everything you mentioned – the big-name clients, travel, etc – seemed within reach and it was amazing…or so I thought. But I quickly realized it wasn’t for me, and the only reason I did was because I tried, worked my butt off and learned a lot of hard but valuable lessons. It really does go both ways – thank YOU for broadening my perspective.

  4. My passion has always been writing. I blame it on my mom teaching me how to read and write at such an early age. I’ve been writing non-stop for as long as I can remember. However, my passion hasn’t earned me a paycheck until, literally, this week.

    Passion is what propels us forward to work hard, and get better.

    I’m still not an amazing writer. I have to read grammar books cover to cover and often check for AP rules but it’s worth it.

    I don’t mind hustling and re-writing a piece 3 times to make sure it’s perfect, even if it’s at 3 am. 

  5. Hey this is Caitlin from MBF Trend Consulting based in NY. We follow your posts with great interest! We just posted your article on our Facebook page because we think it is absolutely brilliant! Keep following your passions!

  6. I agree completely. Without knowing what something is, or worse, basing your opinion on something you read, you can never really gain a passion. That’s why trying new things is so important.

    One think you only hinted at is FOCUS. Everything isn’t going to be puppies and unicorns when starting out, and to really get passionate, you need to pick something and commit to doing it for a while. With focus comes the contacts and customers, and when people pay you for your work, your passion grows even faster.

    • Agreed. Multi-tasking is overrated. Focus allows you to really give something your all, even if only for a little while, getting your feet wet and trying something with full-effort is the only way, in most cases, to discover if it’s really something worth pursuing. 

  7. Matt – I love this! I was just chatting about the same thing on my site, that following your passion is terrible? advice. People tend to get stuck on the passion piece and trying to figure out what it is, without putting forward the effort behind it – as you’ve so eloquently compiled above! 

    For me, “finding my passion” was more about letting go of my definition of passion and discovering it/creating it myself! 

    • Yes! Without working, trying, hustling, failing, learning – passion can never fully be developed. It’s impossible for most to realize their passions without working to discover what it is their passionate about. Cheers!

  8. Hard work, hustle, it seems almost like a disease in the blogger world. The ones with their feet t the pavement get my repect! Great article

  9. I think a lot of times we get stuck in the pursue your passion and love what you do every single day mode. That’s misleading. Even when you are flippin in love with what you do, there will always be less glamorous and downright daunting tasks that aren’t fun but absolutely essential to being successful. (i.e. a big one is doing your taxes. Most people don’t enjoy it. But, its essential unless you like being audited or spending time in jail). Just doing what you are passionate about 24/7 likely isn’t enough, it’s also about putting in the hard work and hustling to make things happen. 

  10. Well implied & put forth, I agree that some of us wont realize where our passion lies until we work on it!