A lot of times the words passion and purpose are mentioned in the context of entrepreneurship. “Follow your passion and turn it into a business”, they say. “Find your purpose and pursue it as an entrepreneur”, advise others. Talking with aspiring and early tech entrepreneurs we’ve found out time and time again that often the real meaning of those two words is misunderstood. A lot of tech entrepreneurs are focusing on passion, while purpose is considered more often than not just one of these trendy “touchy-feely” concepts with no clear value. We believe that understanding the true meaning of passion and purpose as well as their true role is key to becoming a successful entrepreneur and can drastically improve your odds of success. Let me share why.
What is Passion?
Passion is about the things we like to do. It is about what gives us the most fun or joy. Things that we do with excitement and enthusiasm. And you can have a lot of different passions. You can be passionate about programming. At the same time you can be passionate about football. You can be passionate about cooking. And if you think about it, these change over time. Today you like to do one thing, tomorrow you like another. And that is cool!
“OK, Vesko, but how do I find my true passion?” Glad you asked!
How to Find My Passion?
“I’m still waiting to find my true passion.” Waiting to find one's passion is one of the biggest misunderstandings about that concept. Passion is not something that you discover within yourself. It is something that you develop for yourself. And we’ve already talked about that when we’ve discussed the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.
Just think about it. When you start doing something for the first time, chances are you are not that good at it. But over time and if you put in the necessary deliberate effort, you will get better and better and that on its own will bring you joy.
Then, as a next step you start looking for harder and more challenging applications of that passion. For example, with programming you initially start with solving simple tasks. Then you move up in terms of problem and technology complexity. Then it is a matter of a bigger team and scale.
Then one day something changes and you stop feeling it. You have seen just about all of it, “played the full game”, “passed all levels successfully”. And then what? You either move to another passion, or you transition…
From Passion to Purpose
Purpose moves the focus from “what you do” to “why you do it”. The different passions that you developed over time helped you to gain a variety of skills. And that is great! But one day following just passion becomes insufficient. So what should you do? You move from passion to purpose. The focus on purpose means to put your skills into something that you deeply care about. It becomes a question of "why“.
While the focus of passion is toward oneself and what you enjoy doing, the focus of purpose is bigger than you. It is about how you serve others and contribute to them in a meaningful way. And when I say meaningful I mean both meaningful to them and you in some aspect.
The Importance Purpose in Entrepreneurship
A friend of mine, a software engineer by profession, came one day and enthusiastically told me about his idea to build a CRM SaaS for the specific needs of shoemakers. How did he come up with this idea? He heard it from a friend of his parents. He decided to pursue that idea and started to work on it less than two months later he gave up. Why? Because he wasn’t motivated enough. Why is that?
The passion for software development and potentially solving problems with technology made my friend start. But passion on its own wasn’t enough to persevere especially in times of hardship. What keeps you moving is a clear purpose. A meaningful answer to the question of “why do I care to get this thing done and to make an impact” is the actual driving force of motivation.
From Happiness to Fulfillment in Entrepreneurship
Happiness is a feeling at a given moment in time. And it fluctuates - sometimes your happiness index is up and sometimes it is down. The reality is that you cannot be 100% happy all the time and pursuing 100% happiness on its own is a negative experience.
If you expect to be happy all the time as an entrepreneur you will be very very disappointed. Entrepreneurs are not and should not try to be happy all the time - at the end of the day the act of creation and innovation is hard work. It requires operating constantly outside of your comfort zone. One day you come to the office and push and nothing happens. The second day you come and push - again no results. You cannot smile all the time and you should preserve your right not to. But you still show up on the next day! Why? Because of your purpose. Because of your "why".
Instead of happiness, you should focus on fulfillment. Fulfillment is the sense of being valued and valuable. You feel it when you invest your time into something meaningful to you.
Define Your Purpose Day# 1
If you want to build a strong company that can win markets and customers’ hearts you should put an effort to clarify why you are doing what you are doing. Put down an initial version, then evolve it over time. Clarity of purpose will give meaning to you, your teammates and will enable the deep fulfillment of your work that will maximize the chances of your success.