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Marketing 360® Blog

This is Why “Find Your Passion” Is Often Bad Business Advice

Post By Scott Yoder | Company Culture

“Find your passion” is a piece of advice dished out to just about anyone seeking happiness and success, from students to retirees.

We hear it a lot at Marketing 360®.  Startups come to us with a business idea that is motivated, in large part, by them “following their passion”.  They’ve discovered, it seems, what they were really meant to do, and now they’re going for it.

However, according to a forthcoming study from Stanford and Yale-NUS College, the motto of following your passion may be leading most people in the wrong direction.

The core of this study has to do with a mindset difference.  It concludes that people who try to find a single passion tend to believe that they have a built-in interest just waiting to be discovered.  If you find this passion, you’ll magically be able to embrace it.

But people with this mindset are more likely to lose momentum when inevitable challenges arise and setbacks occur.  On the other hand, the researchers said that true passion develops when people are open-minded about a new topic and when they’re willing to put the needed work into being successful.

This often plays out with entrepreneurs who describe themselves as a person who’s following their passion.  These people tend to be less flexible about the necessary changes in direction marketing and business planning often has to take, which puts them at a disadvantage.

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, a co-author of the study, pioneered related research on fixed versus growth theories of intelligence.  She notes how successful people “at first, get all starry-eyed about the idea of finding their passion, but over time they get far more excited about developing their passion and seeing it through.”

Here is a breakdown of her research:

two mindsets

The study notes that focusing too narrowly on one interest causes people to miss developing knowledge in other areas that can help them succeed.

Determination vs Pre-determined

The world is increasingly interdisciplinary, and that certainly applies to creating a business strategy.

If you think your passion is something that’s built in and all you have to do is discover it to find direction for your life, you’re more likely to fall into a fixed mindset where you think the intelligence and skills needed to succeed are pre-determined.

This leads to myopia when it comes to planning a marketing strategy and setting goals.  You see one way to your “dream” coming true, and either it’s going to happen that way or you’ll go down in flames trying.

It’s powerful to find something you’re passionate about, and we respect the entrepreneurial spirit driven by the courage to pursue dreams.

But in pursuit of that dream, make sure you maintain the growth mindset.  Almost everything having to do with business success is based on learned skills and hard work.  People who think innate talent and “destiny” are more important tend to fall into the fixed mindset with its static characteristics.

Passion will only take you so far.  Things will not go exactly as you plan them.  The only certainty in business is that there will be uncertainty.

Be flexible about your approach to business marketing, from setting goals to executing tactics.  We’ve worked with tens of thousands of small businesses, and one thing we know is that with marketing, you almost never create the best campaign on the first try.  It’s all about testing your offers, messaging, and content to discover what consumer audiences respond to.

Most of us are successful because we embrace challenges, continue to learn new things, and realize that we must be flexible enough to change direction when conditions warrant.

Passion is a driving fire that compels us to act.  It gives us drive and purpose.

Find your passion.  But move forward knowing the path to success may be found in an unexpected place that looks quite different from the dream you originally envisioned.

For most people, success is not found on a pre-determined path driven by a single passion.  It’s earned through determined effort that overcomes unexpected challenges.