You actually don’t need passion to be successful

You hear it your whole life – do what you love. In fact, one of Steve Job’s most famous quotes is that ‘to love what you do’ being the only way to do great work. And because he is practically the epitome of success, motivational speakers line up in hundreds to fill their PowerPoint slides with his quote, conference after conference, year after year.

Don’t misunderstand, it’s great to have passion, be passionate, and enjoy the opportunity (and the privilege!) of doing something you love. But come on… The same way a kid gets sick of playing with the shiny new toy after a very short while (no matter how expensive, how colourful, or what the infomercial promised), you too will become exasperated and lose the motivational feeling of passion sometimes. And then what will keep you going when this little snag in enthusiasm hits?

You’re also forgetting that not everyone has the privilege to pursue their passion. Also consider those who never even discover their passion. What you’re telling all this passion-missing people, no matter how dedicated, no matter how much energy they give, no matter their talent or possible dumb luck they experience, no matter their connections or network, that they’ll never ever ever ever ever be experience success?

A recent article compares Steve Jobs’ passion with Bill Gates’ apparent lack of passion. (Long story short, Jobs spent thirty minutes arguing about the shade of a bathroom sign because he’s so passionate about even the tiniest details while contrastingly are no ‘This shows Gates’ passion’ stories to add to any PowerPoint slides.) The author of the article thus concluded that Gates may not be famous because of his unique passion for his job, but that he definitely cared. It’s argued that, therefore, it is caring – more than passion – that keeps your wheels turning when you become sick of the flashy toy in front of you.

The point is made that while passion is beyond our control and comes and goes as it pleases, we always care about a project, the people, the outcome, etc. In fact, within passion there is still an undeniable sense of caring, so it can even be reasoned that caring is the root of success. To care is to succeed, whether you’re passionate or not. Caring is the motivator that will ensure you don’t drop the ball precisely because of the importance you placed in – or attached to – the end goal.

If you have passion in addition to caring about what you’re working on, then consider it a bonus! But it by no means indicates (and don’t for another second think) your career path is doomed simply because it’s passionless.