Passion isn’t something one gets––it’s something one merely allows.

Suzanne Falter-Barns

When I start talking about discovering your passion in my seminars, I notice that some people begin to look uncomfortable. I can almost hear their thoughts: “Passion? Do I have a passion? I took piano lessons when I was a kid, but that didn’t turn into much.”

Sometimes people come right out and say, “I have no idea what my passion is.” Obviously, they’re doomed.

What’s going on here may be a matter of semantics, of having a definition of passion that is limited to things that we think of as creative pursuits or relaxing pastimes. When it comes to dreambuilding, however, passion encompasses an enormous range of possibilities.

Passion is Bigger Than We Think

While it’s true than many  businesses get started because a person is wild about antiquarian books or fixing luxury cars or designing houses, just as many come from having a passion for the activity of running a business.

They’re the ones who love taking a new idea and bringing it to life. The product or service is secondary. It’s business itself that excites them. Richard Branson, whose Virgin enterprises began with selling records and now includes an airline, banks and numerous other divisions, is such a person.

Whether or not you can identify a specific product or service that you consider your passion, I’d like to suggest that there may be dozens of other passions that you possess that are going to be crucial to your entrepreneurial success. Here are a five to consider:

Independence–the desire to be in charge, to take responsibility, to make decisions is a huge catalyst for many an entrepreneur. Being in control of your time, writing your own rule book, and doing things in your own way  isn’t an act of selfishness. It’s the healthy desire for self-reliance.

Individuality–wanting to explore fully what makes us unique. This is increasingly difficult to do in a world that seems bent on conformity. “Nobody can be exactly like me,” said Tallulah Bankhead. “Sometimes even I have trouble doing it.”

Reveling in our uniqueness and making it an integral part of our business can be an on-going exercise in creativity.

Personal growth–giving ourselves a  lifelong project of self-discovery is enticing for many who come to the conclusion that self-employment does just that. As Paul Hawken points out, “Being in business is not about making money. It’s a way to become who you are.” Amen.

Serving others–knowing that our efforts make life better for other people can be a powerful motivation. As my handyman student Al says, “I have always wanted to help people and I’m doing that now and have never felt so appreciated as I do from my customers. And then they pay me on top of that!”

Curiosity and adventure–as many entrepreneurs have learned, you don’t have to trek through Nepal to have adventure in your life. The nature of building an evolving business is that it always has new discoveries to make.

“Just when you think you’ve arrived,” says singer Melissa Manchester, “you find there’s another mountain to climb.”  Curious adventurers understand that.

In a world where people like to talk about things they just might do someday, the Joyfully Jobless consider where his or her passion lies and then gets busy living it. Passion shows up bearing marching orders, after all.

Philosophers have often reminded us that what we are is more important than what we have. Passionate entrepreneurs live that every day.


I nearly went into a swoon yesterday when I read Frank Hyman’s New York Times piece called I’m Making a Living From My Hobbies. It’s a delightful example of putting multiple passions to work. Check it out and notice, also, what he says about investing in himself.