Business Success: Does passion really matter? What’s the role of commitment?

Recently, I was a guest trainer at a business-building workshop for independent service professionals. All of the participants chose to attend this training, ostensibly, to help grow their businesses, to be more profitable, and to help more people.

As I got to know the participants, two things became readily apparent to me:

  1. 100% of the participants were 1000% passionate about their work, which ultimately was about making a contribution to their clients’ businesses and lives.
  2. Only about 10-20% of them were financially viable, even though they were all making a valuable contribution to their clients.

This observation both puzzled and troubled me. You see, for years, I used to believe that if a person was really passionate about something, success (however way they define it for themselves) was a foregone conclusion.

So, I wondered what it was that separated the financially successful and passionate business from the equally passionate (in loose, relative terms), but financially non-viable business.

After percolating on this for a while, I realized that the significant difference between a successful business and an unsuccessful one lies in the depth of commitment. Yes, the “C” word – commitment.

Commitment means being willing to take on a greater level of personal growth, to face the unanticipated challenges with courage, to take bold actions, even in the face of extreme pressure and uncertainty. Commitment is also about being willing to grow from the inside out, at a deep, personal level – being willing to face one’s inner demons – those limiting beliefs and lingering self-doubts that only serve to keep you stuck where you are.

(And, by the way, commitment is not about working hard, ‘paying one’s dues,” sacrificing, or suffering. That may be part of one’s experience along the journey, but that’s not commitment; that’s simply part of the ride.)

Without a doubt, having the passion for what you do, have, and experience in business and in life is an important element of personal fulfillment.

But having passion alone is not a surefire formula for success.

See, there are many people who are passionate about something, whether it’s ‘ending world hunger,’ ‘saving the whales’ or ‘freeing Tibet.’ But far fewer are committed to doing something about it, to taking action even against great odds and tremendous challenges.

Passion without commitment is akin to a rocket ship on the launching pad without fuel: It’s a great idea, but going nowhere – fast.

Conversely, it’s entirely possible to be financially successful, without having a passion for the business. But that’s a conversation for another day.

Action Plan:

  1. Looking at your own business and life, where would you rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being high) as far as being passionate about the business you are in (not just a part of it, but the whole of it).
  2. Now, list your top three business goals for the next year or two. Go ahead, put them down on paper or screen.
  3. Now ask yourself, on a scale of 1-10, how committed are you to doing whatever it is you’ll need to do to have those business goals be a reality? Let’s be honest here.

The Bottomline:

The critical link between passion and success lies in the level of one’s commitment to the pursuit of ‘success.’ If you find yourself below a 5 or 6 on the level of commitment (and you are being honest about it), you really need to ask yourself what you’re really spending your valuable time and life energy on. Maybe it’s time to commit to something else.

But even at the highest levels of commitment, there are no guarantees of success.

For those of you seeking guarantees, I leave you with one of my favorite quotations from W. H. Murray, one of the first to climb Mount Everest:

Commitment. Until one is committed there is always hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.

Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.

A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.