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Passion: Friend or Foe?

Written by Phillip Lechter, Rich Dad’s Chief Communications Officer

We’ve all heard it: “Find your passion!” Robert talks about it often: focus on what you’re passionate about and your likelihood of success increases.

My wife Angela and I have thought a lot about “passion” recently and here’s why: After seven years as an elementary school teacher, Angela’s passion and love for teaching had deteriorated. The bureaucracy of it all – finally – overpowered her passion. This summer she’d had enough and realized that it was time to start a new chapter in her life. She wanted to start her own business.

Roadblock or Reality?
Not long ago, I overheard Angela getting some advice from her mom. “Don’t just do any business, do a business that you love. Do a business that you’re passionate about,” her mom said. Although that is advice that I have given – and heard a lot – it occurred to me that this advice just created another roadblock.

At that point, my wife had already looked at a few different types of businesses. One, in particular, was a good opportunity and we had spent enough time on both the due diligence and the numbers to believe that it was a good fit for us. But when Angela thought about her mother’s advice she replied, “Well… I am not really passionate about this business. So I guess I shouldn’t do it.”

She remembered her first days as a teacher: “I was really passionate about teaching when I started,” she said. And I reminded her that her passion for teaching was also based on four years of education to get her college degree. Passion, it seems, can build as part of the process of education and experience. You can’t expect to wake up and know your passion – or your next passion – as seemed to be the case during Angela’s first year of teaching.

I think of Cecilia Morrison, one of the first employees (part-time) at The Rich Dad Company, and her story as a business owner is featured in Rich Dad’s Success Stories. She and her husband, George, own several laundromats. They are sound investments and the first one (a “Small Deal” that generated the cash flow for the “Big Deal” that followed) reinforced what Cecilia knew all along: her passion was for owning and managing a business. The type of business didn’t really matter. It seems to me it could be tough to be passionate about a laundromat. And that’s the point: Cecilia is passionate about business… any type of business that she can buy, manage, generate passive income from, and leverage.

A Passion… for What?
The more Angela and I talked, the more I realized that what Angela’s mom said (although we both know she was trying to help…) could be “bad” advice. It occurred to me that to start a business (or buy one) you need to be passionate about business. While that business does need to fit with your principles and morals, it is the business of a business – and all that owning a business involves – that you need to be passionate about. No wonder so many small businesses fail. They are passionate about what they are doing… and not passionate about what they are being.

What a great lesson I learned that day: Passion is more about what you are being (business owner), than it is about what you are doing (laundry).