Pi of Life : That Thing Called Passion

Ah, Passion.


  1. Strong and barely controllable emotion.
  2. A state or outburst of such emotion.


That’s what the dictionary says.

And Wikipedia adds – “Passion (from the Latin verb pat? meaning to suffer) is a term applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion compelling feeling, enthusiasm, or desire for something.

The term is also often applied to a lively or eager interest in or admiration for a proposal, cause, or activity or love – to a feeling of unusual excitement, enthusiasm or compelling emotion, a positive affinity or love, towards a subject.”

It’s used in the context of entrepreneurship so very often. Mis-used, I should say. For it’s a tag people bandy about to not have to seriously think of or answer when faced with why they’re doing something.

“I’m passionate about selling trinkets online…” Really?

“… but I’m waiting for a technical co-founder to help me implement the backend.”

“… but I need funding to get it off the ground.”

“… and I’ll continue to do it if it starts making me half my earlier salary in 6 months’ time.”

Sorry – that’s just a fling you want to have with something cool. You’re a fair-weather investor and the belief in the dream isn’t quite there yet.


Savage Chicken on Passion!

So how do you figure out what you’re passionate about, or at least – if you’re passionate about something?

Try distilling what you’re trying to do into one sentence.

Did that make your hair stand on its end? Did it give you a rush of blood? Or did you feel a warm fuzzy glow? Or a massive surge of pride? Those are good starting points. Else, redo.

Now write down the path you see your venture or idea or project taking over a certain period. List down ALL the little tasks and activities it’ll need to be done to get there. Are you ready to do those – especially the ones you think are boring?

Next, revisit your business plan. (You have one – don’t you? At least some back of the envelope calculations?) Take that and go super-conservative on the assumptions on how much you’ll be able to sell, and at what price. Assume you will not be able to hire well, and run into bottlenecks. Assume the worst, and then imagine if you’d still continue wanting to do it at great cost and pain to yourself, just to live that rewarding moment you imagined to start with? It’s almost this kid in the family you must bring up through good times and bad. And do it without grudging the bad times, and cherishing the good ones.

And it doesn’t have to be this big, hairy, audacious, world-changing, honourable or super-ambitious dream. It could be anything that drives you. A cycling trip around the world. A climb up to the seven highest peaks. The kick you might get out of seeing a kid learn out genuine curiosity. The growth of numbers in a bank accruing from the business (this is an easy one to fall for, but the drive to see this happen despite initial challenges is a very tough one because it negates the goal itself). Or it could be the impact you have on a serious problem like energy, water or affordability of the basics for a specific target set. Pick your goal.

It needs to drive you. I mean, truly, persistently drive you. So much that rain or shine, you’re enthused enough by the possibility of that one moment and will take a lot of downside to get there.

That’s probably what passion is.

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