Passion Or Purpose?

Which is more valuable – passion or purpose? While it’s great to have both, in the long-run we’ll need more of one than the other. Especially when times get tough, the distinction can be useful.

Passion is like a source of energy. It’s fuel that burns hot in the moment but requires replenishing. We can use passion in bursts (and even follow it, to a degree) but it’s not sustainable on its own. The most passionate artist will starve without food.

Purpose is like a compass. It tells us which direction we are facing but leaves it up to us to move in the direction we choose. Purpose offers a mechanism to align “what” to do with “why” to do it. North is always north. The compass doesn’t require replenishing so much as checking in with it on our journey. The most passionate artist knows what to do to eat to therefore make more art.

No matter how much we love our jobs, when the daily grind gets real, purpose needs to take over. Passion is also hard to teach, while purpose is easy to demonstrate. Companies that are able to grow and scale often start with their founder’s passion, but end up being built on their entire culture’s shared sense of purpose.

Questions to ask or return to, especially when we are spread thin or times are tough:

Who are we serving?

Why do they need us?

What are we doing to fulfill those needs?

What difference does it make?

Why do people like us do things like this?

What will we do today we’ll be proud of tomorrow?

As Jeff Goins says, “Real artists don’t starve.” Check the compass. Embrace passion as a source of fuel, but focus it on building purpose to sustain us for the long-run. Remember where true north is and why we continue to show up to do the work worth doing. Having purpose, much like having a compass, is an essential tool for any journey worth taking.

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