Do You Really Believe in What You Do? 4


Which You Are You Now?

It’s not a question that get’s asked much in an age of Gary Vaynerchuk and “passions”, but isn’t believing in what you do more important than a mere personal hobby or past-time that the word “passion” would indicate?

Gary V. devoted himself to wine. That’s his passion, and the basis for his popular book (Crush It!) on doing what you’re passionate about. But what if I can’t devote all of my energies into a single interest? What if I have too many hobbies (AKA “passions”) to pick just three, let alone one? Doesn’t that get a bit unbalanced? I know I have about 20+ fairly serious interests spanning from physical/sport to intellectual to the arts (like movies, for example, or music). Any of those could be called a “passion” for me (not just a mere interest, but an all-out passion), but I believe in only a very small fraction of them as worthy of devoting a lifetime to. This may seem like a philosophical math problem, but it’s really not.

So what do we do, Gary V., we for whom the world is simply too big a place to narrow it down to just one interest? Simple: we do what we believe in, ie., what we see as a spiritual expression of our truest selves, as well as a marketable commodity. I know, many are saying to themselves, not another one of those (insert the ignorant slur here). But who the hell cares what they say? After all, they don’t believe in the same things I do. This is about principles and values, after all.

So I’m now in the middle of a new project, but it’s within a category already fairly full of fairly successful competitors. My solution is to focus on a niche that would appear obvious, yet no one seems to have covered it. Moreover, I’m not going to give it away here. People will just have to stumble across this thing via luck (or more likely, the marketing promotions to come). In the end, this is what will give the project its edge and power–that I don’t beat people over the head with it, but allow it to be savored like a fine Napa Pinot Noir, a great Fujian province Ti Kuan Yin oolong, a fine Vermont aged white cheddar, or a delectably rich Belgian chocolate, or…well you get the idea. And no my passion for food isn’t the project. But you may already see that it easily could have been, if it were simply to be a mere “passion”. I mean, I can probably name 14 different flavors of Ben and Jerry’s, all of the incarnations of fruit-mixed coca-cola variations, and even tell you what’s good to drink with about 50 different Sichuan dishes, to boot. But that’s not a life-focus for me.

What’s the takeaway here? Maybe just to ask: do you really, and I mean really love what you currently do? Does it provide you with opportunities to embody your deepest core beliefs about what’s important about being alive? Will it, looking back, be something that feels like the most kind bestowal upon you and others that could have been? And if not, shouldn’t you start trying to find a way to the mode of work that will?


About Mark Brimm

Mark Brimm is President of 123interface.com, the Founder of Marcana.com, and runs a personal blog on social media, marketing and entrepreneurship at MarkBrimm.com. He also runs a blog on SEO & SEM at SEMinsider.com.

  • Wow, Mark. Great piece (of course I would say this because it speaks more to my Everywoman persona here than does the usual marketing advice, however cogent). It’s an interesting use of passion and I would have marked passion higher on the emotional scale until you made me think about it.

    Recently, I completed a class at Coaches Training Institute called Fulfillment. I think fulfillment might be closer to your concept of true work satisfaction. From the book Co-Active Coaching: “Fulfillment is about being fully alive. Fulfillment is the state of fully expressing who we are and doing what is right for us.” An interesting aspect of the explanation is that people can be fulfilled, even in dark times of their lives. Having less can actually still leave one fulfilled. It just depends on what it is that really moves a person.

    Putting this into a work perspective, a large focus of my coaching practice will be displaced or dissatisfied corporate IT workers. It occurred to me that the skills I have learned in coaching don’t have to be used [necessarily] to leave one’s job and become an entrepreneur but can also be used to understand what it is that drives a client and perhaps find those things in a current situation. Clearly, there are some people that are just cut out to go into business for themselves and there are others who miss the self-awareness boat by compensating for a lousy workplace by pursuing “passions”, rather than fulfillment – think grown up spring break. IMHO, it’s knowing the difference and how to address it that’s key in work satisfaction and success.

    • Great example, Marlita! I found it wonderfully relevant to my intent and reinforces that this is not just an entrepreneurial issue.

      I think the business culture has too long factored in only a percentage (presumed to be a majority) of a person’s requirements for fulfillment in their work (mainly, the equation seems to go: money + greater freedom & mobility), even as entrepreneurs, rather than looking at an honest self-evaluation, probably for financial excuses. Entrepreneurs tend to get stuck in a model of thinking it’s about seeking the highest common denominator in terms of audience while staying niche.

      Being less affluent is not in any way a deterrent from true fulfillment, therefore, all things being equal, we should probably never just stay put for the sake of staying afloat, and never remain in an unchanging role that doesn’t fully satisfy us and avoiding change for fear of making less money. We can always work on our current situation and prepare for the move we fully prefer. Entrepreneurs can be remarkably just as stagnant as those employed by others once they start making a job-equivalent income or hit on something lucrative. I hope this post helps someone out there to be the full enchilada. I write it as a confirmation of my own determination to stay in the self-evaluative mindset, as well.

  • Great thoughts, Mark, and I, too, have been grappling with this. It’s the “Crush It” vs. “Four Hour Work Week” debate. I haven’t solved the problem, but handle it by having a list of “passions”, activities that give me “fulfillment”, and a list of qualities that are likely unique to me. Then I see what can be combined into one or two activities, and what can be left for “hobbies”.Years ago, we worked to put food on the table, and “fulfillment” was not an issue. I do believe that we can spend too much time focusing on this and in doing so, we can actually miss opportunities that we may have otherwise explored. Meanwhile, recessions and joblessness can bring to the forefront of our thoughts, “What is truly important to me?” Sometimes the answer will be “whatever takes care of my family, as long as it’s in line with my values.” It makes a strong statement to those who depend upon us, and we can always have our hobbies!And I’m a strong believer in “blooming where you are planted.” Joy is everywhere. Thank you, Mark, for sharing your thoughts and your journey with us all.Diana

    • Yeah, it is an unusual time to have the thought, but it’s been occurring to me lately that the more steps of faith I’ve taken, the more I’ve been blessed for doing so. Thanks to you also for sharing your story with me! 🙂