The Price of Passion

[note color=”#FDD017″]This is a guest post by my good friend Rory Vaden.  Rory was a speaker on our Wisdom Meets Passion cruise and is the Cofounder of Southwestern Consulting, Self-Discipline Strategist and Speaker, and New York Times bestselling author of Take the Stairs. Free daily insights at: Rory Vaden Blog.  If you’d like to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.[/note]


Rary Vaden

If you left your corporate job, started your own business, or chased your dream thinking that “pursuing your passion”would somehow instantly make your life easier, then you are severely mistaken. That is a fantasy-land my friend because in the real world nobody cares about your passion; they only care about what problem you can solve for them.

Pursuing your passion is great. Pursuing your passion as a profession is something I highly recommend and personally practice. But pursuing your passion means you better show up prepared to put in a tremendous amount of perseverance if you ever plan to win.

Most people who “pursue their passion” ultimately end up living in their parent’s basement or trading in their God-given talent for the eventual security of a Corporate-given paycheck because they forgot to bring a critical ingredient to the passion success formula: self-discipline.

So many people who “pursued their passion” wanted to frolic in the artistic joy of freely expressing themselves meanwhile completely ignoring the cold hard reality of making sales, managing money, creating a brand, or executing a plan. They wanted to print a business card and suddenly have checks show up in their mailbox without ever making a phone call, cutting their expenses, or working past midnight.

Those people never make it. Success is never an accident. And when you are starting a business you do whatever you have to do until you can one day, later on, do what you want to do.

It is an exorbitant amount of work to make your passion intersect with solving a problem that other people have that they will be willing to pay for. It is a lifelong journey to perfect your passion to the point where it earns the attention of the general public. And it is a sobering realization to finally understand the level of self-discipline you will have to put in long before you ever get paid a single dollar for your “passion.”

Every successful entrepreneur I’ve ever met has a story about top ramen or couch surfing. Every rising musician in my hometown of Nashville has played the empty bars for pennies in a pickle jar. Every gold medalist spent thousands of hours in the gym when no one was watching before they ever took center stage. I personally spoke 304 times for free before eventually becoming one of the higher paid keynoters on the planet. My wife and I worked for 18 months promoting with no pay before Take the Stairs ever hit the New York Times bestseller list.

I’m not telling you to give up on your passion. I’m telling you to go after it. But I’m also telling you that you better be as passionate about the perseverance, and as passionate about paying the price, as you are about living your dream if you want to have a real shot.

Be willing to do whatever it takes.

Be willing to do what others won’t.

Be willing to stick it out for the long haul.

Or quit kidding yourself and just stay where you are.

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  • Chris Barber

    Love the real talk/advice! no pie-in-the-sky here!

  • I totally love it. It seems like a lot of people seem use “But I’m pursuing my passion” as an excuse to not build a solid business around their endeavor, but instead have a glorified hobby. Nothing wrong with hobbies. But if you’re passionate about a project and want to turn it into a profitable business, I’m all for working hard and building a solid business.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more. There is nothing wrong with a hobby but there is something destructive when we haven’t decided whether we are doing a hobby or a business.

  • BOOM! I love it. Take The Stairs is one of my favorite books. Best quote: “And it is a sobering realization to finally understand the level of self-discipline you will have to put in long before you ever get paid a single dollar for your “passion.”

    • Great to hear from you 2x in the same day Wesley! Glad that line resonated with you. Dan is the man and it’s an honor to get to post here!

  • “work to make your passion intersect with solving a problem that other people have that they will be willing to pay for.” That is such a key, especially for artists.

    For me, identifying a market that intersects with my passion is the tough part.

    A friend told me about the niche market of cleaning office condos and now I have a successful business cleaning them. But finding that market that I can serve with my music, speaking and writing seems to be that lifelong journey you describe.

    Because of the realization that it is a journey, I’m committing to do a few things consistently, like blog twice a week and put out a newsletter. It’s simple but after a year I should be a better writer and perhaps be closer to finding my voice and a market I can serve. But as you said, it is a journey.

    Thanks for the post and stressing the daily grind it takes!

  • Great post Rory! This is the side of working in your passion that no one likes to talk about. Turns out passion work = hard work.

  • I love this, there are no overnight success, just those who show up everyday and grind it out. It’s easy to look at those that are successful and get mad when we’re not at where they are but they’ve worked for it and so should we.