There are a lot of hoops to jump and obstacles to climb before starting a new business, but a lack of an all-burning passion for the pursuit shouldn’t be one of them. Yes, it’s easier to keep going when you like what you do, but it’s by no means a requirement to profess your love for the endeavor.
I know it often comes from a good place, this advice. That you should just wait until that magic idea comes along. Not be the fool rushing in. But this romantic idea that there’s the perfect opportunity just waiting out there for you to discover it is a mirage.
Most of business, most of the time, is pretty mundane! I’m not still working at Basecamp because, after nearly twenty years, I just spring out of bed every morning yearning to improve todos, events, messages, or project management in general. I like all those things, but the domain itself isn’t a burning bush of passion.
What working on Basecamp allows me to do is keep at the motions I most enjoy: Writing Ruby, sharing lessons and experiences, building a calm workplace, and being fair in dealings with customers. Those aren’t the only things I enjoy in life, but they’re definitely on the high list.
Thing is. I could have pursued all those things in a different domain than, say, helping businesses cope with growth and putting projects in order at Basecamp. In fact, I have! We’ve made quite a lot of applications at Basecamp over the years. Many related to a similar mission as Basecamp, but not all.
There are lots of reasons for why you’d want to start and run a business. Passion isn’t a permit you need to acquire before setting off.
6 thoughts on “Permits of passion”
Fix your opening sentence. Unless you were going for the “Scammer with poor English” look. 🤣
The rest of the article is a thumbs up both grammatically and content!
This was exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you, DHH!
Thank you! You greatly helped me to formalize my own entrepreneurial pursuits. Creating a business that is profitable, and where employees can learn from each other, trust each other, work the right way, and have fun solving complex problems is a legitimate passion.
Thanks for this DHH. Please keep challenging the “accepted wisdom” of work… along with the idea that there is ANY single “right” way. Is the romantic ideal of one true “passion” in business equivalent to “love at first sight”?
Agree with the overall sentiment and the advice in your post. I would say that while it isn’t a requirement that you like everything you do while starting or growing a business, you do have to like something, preferably, more than one thing. As you said, working on todos, messages, events aren’t exactly what you are passionate about but working on those things involve working with Ruby which you do enjoy greatly.
When starting a business, I think people should at least try to work on something that will allow you to work on some of the things you do like to do and find at least some joy doing it. You are right, passion about one single idea or everything isn’t necessary, but you do have to like, really like some of it.
I do not remember if it was in Deep Work or in So great that they can not ignore you, where Carl Newport explains that there is not scientific evidence about preexisting passion. Steve Jobs was mistaken in the famous Stanford commencement speech. True is that passion comes after you master whatever thing you do.
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