In the business world, passion is all the rage. Again and again, we hear that we need to be passionate about our work and passionate about our business. We need to hire passionate employees; we need to create passionate customers. And so on.
Yet “passion” is irrational. Philosophically speaking, it is “identified with an innate or biologically driven emotional state, such as anger, greed, lust, or other deadly sins.” When we are ruled by passion, we forego reason, ignore our upbringing, turn our back on accepted norms, and surrender ourselves to the brute obstinacy of our instinctual urges.
In other words, we become insane.
With these thoughts in mind, I asked Ekaterina Walter, author of Think Like Zuck and my guest on this week’s episode of Marketing Smarts, if her emphasis on “passion” as a key contributing factor in Mark Zuckerberg’s and Facebook’s meteoric rise, meant that, in fact, people had to be crazy to succeed.
Her response pleased me because she basically took the ball and ran with it, asking: “How rational do you think the decision of Steve Jobs was to put 50 million dollars of his own money into Pixar for 9 years straight… and not giving up on the idea of bringing animated movies to people around the world?”
Of course, Ekaterina was not saying that the idea behind Pixar was itself crazy—turns out, it was actually a very good and lucrative idea. Instead, she was highlighting the fact that the irrationality inherent in passion, in bringing a passionate approach to our endeavors, can provide the level of drive and persistence necessary to get us through those times when it seems that, no matter how good the idea, it just might never come to fruition.
She said, “When we believe in something, when our gut is telling us that this is the right way to go, that there is something better out there and we want to do these crazy things because, at the same time, we believe that they lead to disruption and they lead to new ways of thinking, that’s the passion… that gives us energy, gives us motivation and keeps us going.”
So what do you think? Is passion play a critical role in building a successful career or business? Or is this emphasis on passion all just a bunch crazy talk?
If you would like to hear my entire conversation with Ekaterina, you may listen here or download the mp3 and listen at you leisure. You can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!