No startup magically pops up out of thin air—each one stems from an idea, a dream, a passion. But an entrepreneur’s passion alone isn’t enough to build a successful company. That passion has to fuel a deep, all-consuming fire that keeps him or her working constantly toward success.
I know how important a productive passion is from my own track record. People have told me that I make my career as an entrepreneur and executive look easy, but what they don’t see is the effort I put in day after day.
My passion didn’t just create one good idea and make my company flourish overnight; passion is what made it possible for me to put in the necessary work.
Keeping Passion Productive
Sometimes having the drive to keep going after your dream no matter what obstacle gets thrown your way can make all the difference. Engagement is hard to come by: In the U.S., businesses shell out $1 billion each year to achieve it and another $100 billion on developing employees’ skill sets.
Despite that price tag, only 13 percent of the American workforce attests to having the right type of passion—the kind that drives you to seek out challenges and develop the skills to push past them.
This type of “do what you love” attitude being the difference between a successful startup and failure might sound like old news, but being emotionally invested in your workplace not only helps your company grow, but might even improve your health, too. A study conducted in Denmark found that out of 5,000 Danish workers, those with the highest commitment to their employers slept better and got sick less often.
If those are the benefits for employees, imagine the difference productive passion makes for entrepreneurs. An emotional connection is needed to execute successfully. In fact, studies show that objects to which people have emotional attachments appear larger and are easier for us to spot. It’s no wonder that a major life goal such as startup success looms large in our minds.
Coupling your passion with visualization techniques to help prioritize your goals each and every day can keep you honest about the steps you’re taking to achieve your dreams. Here are three other ways productive passion can act as your own secret weapon:
1. Let it drive your self-belief.
You’re never passionate about something you think will fail. Let that determination burn at full force and drive your trust in your ability to succeed. If you believe that your dream is achievable, you will act accordingly. Use your passion to keep your daily and monthly goals for yourself and your company within reach. The confidence you hold in your future will trickle down to anyone helping you work toward your startup’s success.
Steve Jobs was another big proponent of letting passion fuel your belief in yourself. In a commencement speech he delivered to Stanford graduates in 2005, he said, “You’ve got to find what you love. The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Keep that love of your work with you, and trust that you will put in the hours needed to see it through.
2. Let it motivate you.
It’s clear that goals we are emotionally attached to seem more prominent to us. So harness that feeling and let your passion motivate you. Emotional attachment to an idea will motivate you to answer those emails, reach out to those connections you made at a networking event or stay up all night to troubleshoot that nagging tech issue.
If your startup is truly important to you, getting up early and powering through the day to meet with investors is a non-issue. Perfecting your product design for the zillionth time is just a necessary step in the process. When it seems overwhelming, let your passion for what you are doing remind you of why you started this journey in the first place and then push you to keep on keeping on.
3. Let it give you an energy boost.
It’s easy for people who have never started their own businesses to misjudge the kind of endurance it requires. But use your productive passion to fuel you through the long hours and emotionally taxing setbacks. My grandfather always told me that everything will take twice as long and cost twice as much as you think it will. That’s never more true than in business.
Use your emotional connection with your startup to keep your enthusiasm and energy high, even when times get tough. Visualization techniques can help, as can reminding yourself to take short breaks to have coffee with a supportive friend, run to your favorite motivational song or do some meditation when you are really feeling overwhelmed.
Starting your own business is difficult—there’s no way to get around that. But if you’re passionate about your dream, there is nothing you can’t do. Let your passion fuel your productivity and persistence, and it will become the best secret weapon in your arsenal.