Passion Has Zero Value

Passion Has Zero Value 507 338 C-Suite Network

by Larry Winget

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Passion has no value. I’ve lost some of you already, haven’t I? You want to argue with me before you even know what I’m going to say. You want to tell me you are passionate about what you do. Good for you. I don’t care. No one else does either. Your passion is of no value to me. It has no value to your customers either. As my friend Joe Calloway, author of “Becoming A Category Of One,” says, “To the customer, passion is an invisible word.”  I totally agree.

The dictionary defines passion as a “strong and barely controllable emotion.” Tell me the role that plays in getting the job done. None. Passion is just a word we use when we are trying to convince people we really care about what we do. People love saying they are passionate about their jobs. We love hearing that the people we do business with are passionate about what they do because we think we will get a better product or service. Total BS. Passion has no value and is a word that ultimately means nothing.

A few years ago, I appeared on “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch.” He always had a handful of entrepreneurs on the show who talked about their businesses, and each show seemed to have a theme. At the end of the show he had an expert come out at what he called “The Millionaire Minute,” where he would talk about the show’s theme and get their take based on their experience and expertise. I was the guy doing the Millionaire Minute, and wouldn’t you know, the theme that night was “passion.” Yuck.
When he said to me, “Larry, what do you think of passion?”  I answered, “Donny, I think passion is a total load of crap.” He went pale under all of his orange makeup. He said, “I disagree!” I said, “It’s your show, and you have every right to be wrong. But I know people who are passionate, and they are passionately incompetent.” I went on to say people don’t hire me because I am passionate, they hire me because I am amazing at what I do. I am paid for hard work and excellence, not passion. And that’s what I believe: All of us are paid for being good at our jobs, not for being passionate about our jobs. 

I gave a speech one evening to a large group, and when I finished, on my way back to the room, I slipped over into a dark corner of the bar to have a nightcap before bed. Big mistake. The meeting had ended, and here they came. The president of the company walked over to me and said, “I want to thank you for your passion up there tonight.” I was polite and thanked him, but I told him he didn’t see any passion up there tonight. He saw a guy who was really good at his job. He laughed and said, “Oh no, you can’t fool me. You were passionate about what you had to say.”
I told him I believed what I had to say and was good at saying it, and that is was years of hard work and a commitment to excellence that produced the speech he observed and had paid me for. I went on to tell him I was passionate about sitting on my patio with a fine cigar in my right hand, a premium scotch in my left hand, my bulldog in my lap, my wife by my side and listening to Merle Haggard playing in the background.  I am good at my job, and I am passionate about my family. He left confused, I am sure.

Hard work and excellence: Those are the keys to success. And it takes both. Some people work really hard, yet are horrible at what they do. Some people are amazing at what they do but don’t work hard enough for it to matter. You can’t have one without the other if you want to achieve amazing results. But passion plays no part. If you care about results, you have to agree that we need a lot less passion and a whole lot more hard work and excellence.

Think about it: I don’t want a doctor who is passionate about doing surgery; I want a doctor who is amazing at doing surgery.

I don’t want the soldier, cop or firefighter to be passionate about their jobs; I want them to be really good at their jobs. When they are, they keep me (and themselves) safe.

I don’t want a teacher who is passionate about teaching kids; I want them to actually teach kids the subject they are paid to teach them.

I am betting that you are a lot like me. I don’t pay for passion; I pay for results. I pay for people to actually do their jobs and do them well. I don’t care whether they are passionate about their work or whether they hate it — that’s not my concern. I want results. You know what? That’s the way it is with your customers, too. And that’s the way it should be with your employer. They all want results achieved through hard work and excellence. I don’t want a “barely controllable emotion” anywhere near me or my money. I don’t trust emotions. Emotions wane. They are like the tides; they come and they go. Instead, I want someone with a total commitment to achieving results through hard work and excellence. Don’t you?

I know that even after the logical argument I have presented here, many of you will still be screaming about the need for passion and defending your own passion. That’s fine. I know people are in love with “passion” and the feelings the word evokes. I believe that’s because passion requires very little from us, while hard work and excellence require almost everything from us.

Larry Winget is a six-time New York Times/Wall Street Journal bestselling author. His newest book is “Grow A Pair; How To Stop Being A Victim and Take Back Your Life, Your Business and Your Sanity.” He is a member of the Speakers Hall Of Fame. Larry is a regular contributor on many television news shows on the topics of money, personal success, business and parenting. Find out more at Follow him on Facebook at Larry Winget Fan Page and on Twitter @larrywinget.